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An Excel 2007 Reference:

The Excel 2007 User Interface

The Excel 2007 user interface is completely different from earlier
versions of Excel. Here is a pictorial introduction to the new UI.

by Charley Kyd
April, 2007
(Email Comments)

Excel 2007 is like no other version of Excel. In fact, it's like no earlier version of Microsoft Office.

Menu bars are gone. All but one toolbar are gone. Tear-off menus are gone. In fact, the familiar user interface for all earlier versions of Excel is gone.

Instead, Excel 2007 gives us a new user interface and new terminology. Here are the key elements of Excel 2007's user interface:

The Ribbon

Excel 2007 has replaced its menu bar and toolbars with The Ribbon. This is the area above the formula bar, which the following images illustrate.


Tabs are somewhat equivalent to the menus in the old Excel Menu Bar. When you choose a tab you can see groups of commands associated with that tab.

Contextual Tabs

When you select certain objects, Excel displays Contextual Tabs, with commands to help you work with the object.

This figure shows a selection of these tabs.

Excel adds these tabs to its normal set of tabs. So you still are able to to work with other commands that apply to the object you've selected.


These are the sections within each tab that contain related commands. Here, for example, are the first two groups in the Home tab.

Be aware that some group labels can mislead. To illustrate, the Font group above includes two tools that have nothing to do with fonts. It includes the Fill Color tool (the paint can) that you use to change the color of worksheet cells. It also includes the Border tool.

Even the tool titles can mislead you. To illustrate, if you want to copy a picture of the selected range, you would choose the Paste tool shown in the Clipboard group, then you would choose As Picture, Copy as Picture. Doing so launches the Copy Picture dialog.

Groups can change their appearance, depending on the width of your Excel window. To illustrate, here are five versions of the Home tab's Styles group. These versions change as the width of Excel's window increases:

Dialog Launcher

This is the arrow icon at the bottom of some groups, which launches the dialog associated with that group.

To illustrate, if you click on the Font dialog launcher, Excel launches the Format Cells dialog with its Font tab active.

QAT (Quick Access Toolbar)

The QAT is the only toolbar that Excel 2007 offers. It brings two key benefits for Excel 2007 users.

First, the QAT gives you quick access to commands that you use frequently. To illustrate, the QAT shown here allows me quickly to create a new workbook, launch the Open dialog, crop an image, and launch the Copy Picture dialog.

Second, the QAT gives you access to commands that the ribbon ignores. To illustrate, the final icon in this QAT provides access to the Camera tool.

To add commands to the QAT, first click on the down-arrow icon at the far right of the QAT. This brings up a menu with 11 commands that the Microsoft developers thought you probably would want to add to the QAT. The menu also includes the More Commands item, which launches a dialog that lets you add any Excel command to the QAT.

When you use this dialog, be sure to explore the Choose Commands From drop-down list box in the top-left area of the dialog. One of its choices is All Commands. You'll find this choice useful if you want to add a command that you can't find in the Ribbon.

Office Button

The Office Button, which is at the top left of the Excel window, launches a dialog that combines many of the features of the old File menu, and provides access to the features of the old Options dialog. And more.

You can get to the new Excel Options dialog by clicking on Excel Options in the bottom right of the (untitled) Office Button dialog.



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