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Do Users Really Require Excel 2013 Upgrade Training?
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Microsoft Excel is the most widely-used spreadsheet program in the world and is installed on the great majority of computers which use the Windows operating system and on a good many that don’t. The last significant upgrade to the program was Excel 2007 when Microsoft made major changes to the interface of the Microsoft Office suite, replacing the menu bar with a new type of control called the Ribbon.
This change was pretty significant and any users making the upgrade would certainly have benefitted by having Excel upgrade training.
The upgrade to Excel 2013 provides no major changes to the interface over Excel 2010; however, the addition of two features in particular may start to change the nature of how and why Excel is used. The first of these changes is not unique to Excel but applies to the entire Microsoft Office 2013 suite of programs. The introduction of Microsoft Excel Web App and SkyDrive allows users to edit Excel worksheets online and also share them with others.
Secondly, with the native inclusion of PowerPivot and the data model, Excel 2013 now incorporates a host of powerful new reporting and Business Intelligence features which were previously only available to developers using such tools as Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services.
Excel 2013 upgrade training is probably not essential for most users who are simply upgrading from Excel 2010. However, anyone upgrading from Excel 2003 and who has never used Excel 2007 or 2010 will definitely benefit from taking an Excel upgrade training course.
Let's now review the main features which Microsoft has added to Excel 2013.
Pivot tables are a long-standing Excel powerhouse feature; they enable you to analyze tabular data from every conceivable angle with amazing speed. Recommended PivotTables, a new feature in Excel 2013, makes the process of creating pivot tables even faster.
Instead of starting from a blank canvass, the Recommended PivotTables command will display previews of some of the different pivot tables which could be created from your selected data. Simply choose the one which is closest to what you have in mind and use it as a starting point for your report.
Excel’s new Recommended Charts feature works on the same basis as Recommended PivotTables. It offers a preview of how your plotted data will look, based on some of the logical choices of chart type, category and value axes deemed to be appropriate for your data.
Another useful new chart feature is chart filters; this allows you to temporarily hide elements within a chart by filtering them out. This was previously only possible on pivot charts.
Timelines and table slicers
Slicers (introduced in Excel 2010) are controls containing buttons which represent the unique values within a column of data (for example “Regions” or “Product Category”). Highlighting one or more buttons filters the corresponding data in a pivot table or chart. In Excel 2013, the slicers feature can now also be used with regular Excel tables, not just pivot tables. Additionally, Excel 2013 sees the introduction of timelines: a similar type of control to a slicer, but focused on filtering date information.
Quick Analysis is an innovative new features which aim to encourage less experienced Excel users to make use of Excel’s powerful formatting and data analysis features. Whenever you select a range of data, clicking the Quick Analysis button in the bottom right of the selection displays a categorized selection of options, of which many new users may not even be otherwise aware.
Experienced users of Excel will be familiar with its ability to anticipate and prompt during data entry; the new Flash Fill feature in Excel 2013 takes this anticipation to a new level. As you type, it compares the data you enter with the entries in adjacent cells: if it detects a pattern, it offers to enter the equivalent data in the cells below. This feature can be a huge time-saver, obviating the need to create complex formulas when cleaning up data which has been imported or pasted into Excel.
PowerPivot and the Data Model
The PowerPivot utility, which was available as an add-in for Excel 2010, is built into Excel 2013. It extends Excel’s analytical capabilities by using the xVelocity engine (software originally developed in the Microsoft SQL Server environment) to store and compress data in memory. This compressed data is referred to as the Data Model and can contain data from multiple sources, stored in separate, related tables. Because of the significant degree of compression, the data model can include millions of rows of data, far exceeding Excel’s worksheet limit of one million rows.
Power View is a business intelligence reporting tool built into Excel 2013 in the form of an add-in, which simply needs to be activated. Originally developed as part of Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, it provides a set of easy-to-use yet powerful tools for exploring, visualizing and presenting data.
These then are the new features you can look out for if you are upgrading to Excel 2013 from version 2010. Superficially, the differences between the two versions may seem purely cosmetic; but, under the hood, thanks to the incorporation of the PowerPivot data model, Excel 2013 offers users a lot more data-crunching power and provides easy access to advanced features normally reserved for power users. Anyone upgrading from a version of Excel earlier than 2007 will definitely benefit from having an Excel upgrade training course.
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