Excel 2010 – Still an Accountant’s (or Number Geek’s) Best Friend
Mar 8, 2011 (Updated Mar 8, 2011)
Review by Mark Baker
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Quickly and easily crunches numbers for you
Cons:Until you really understand it, it can be hard to figure out
The Bottom Line: Numbers everywhere
Made easy to understand
By Excel's power
In my day job as an accountant, I use Microsoft Excel every day and have for years. I've actually been using it for several generations now. Currently, I'm working with Excel 2010, and I find it just as user friendly as always.
Recommend this product?
For those unfamiliar with Excel, it is a spreadsheet program. That's right, this isn't something that normal people use on a daily basis or even look forward to using. In fact, it can be a little intimidating when you open it and see a grid with letters on the top of the screen and numbers along the side.
Next to the accounting software, this is the program I use the most for work, however. Each of those parts of the grid, called a cell, can contain data. I can put words in there or numbers. Once I've got the numbers in there, I can quickly add up large columns of numbers or manipulate them however I want with various formulas. Need to correct a typo? No issue, the formula automatically recalculates everything for you. I can sort. I can copy and paste, even from other programs. I'll dump stuff from my accounting software in here and work on it. I download weekly statements from our bank to do reconciliations. By cutting, pasting, and sorting, I get stuff that I can easily use to stay on top of this mammoth task. Heck, we've got a file we created to allocate interest from our savings account across 100 sub-accounts. It even then creates the journal entry for me and creates a format we can use to copy it back to our accounting software.
And, yes, I use it at home, too. I keep track of stats on some of my hobbies in various Excel files at home. I also keep my personal checking account balance in a spreadsheet.
As you can see, Excel can be used for simple or complex tasks. You can create graphs based on the information in your spreadsheet, and there are more complex features I have never used. Once you get over the initial hesitation, the number of ways you can manipulate your data is addicting.
To be honest, I don't remember when I switched over to Excel 2010. Since I use it at work (still use Excel 2003 at home), the MIS department installed it on my computer for me. Based on the Microsoft products I've installed at home, I'm sure that the basic installation just took a few minutes.
If you are familiar with Excel 2007, you won't notice too many differences. And if, like me at home, you are running an eight year old version, be prepared for lots of changes. Instead of the old, familiar drop down menus at the top, you now have what they call a ribbon. There are different tabs on the top of your screen, and each of those tabs has tons of options. It took me a while to get used to this change, and I still have to do a little hunting to find something I don't use too often, but now I love it. The default tab is "Home," and it has almost everything you would normally need to do right at your fingertips. You can bold the cell, cut and paste, chose the number format, insert or delete cells or rows, sort, and auto sum with just the click of a button all from the Home tab. Once I got used to it, it was so much faster. And for those who complained they couldn't customize it before, one of the changes in Excel 2010 is the ability to customize the ribbon.
Those who share spreadsheets back and forth will love the fact that comments are now part of Excel. Just like with Word, you can leave multiple comments to let a co-worker know what changes you think should be made or what errors you've found and already corrected.
To be honest, there are lots of functions to Excel that I don't use. I was looking up a list of the changes for Excel 2010, and most of them are things I never even use. If you have used Excel, the new version won't throw you for a loop, especially if you have used Excel 2007. If you are really upgrading from Excel 2003, the new format will take some getting used to, but once you do it will be great. A couple cool features I do like are changes to allow faster use (although usually it is wait for me and not the other way around) and "sparklines," little graphs that show data in one cell. Now that I know about those small graphs, I'm having a blast playing around with them.
By the time I graduated from college, computers were doing the hard work of accounting. My limited exposer to Excel mushroomed quickly, and I became comfortable with it. Believe me, I know my life is much easier thanks to Microsoft Excel 2010. I couldn't go back to doing all this by hand.
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