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21.5 Things You Can Do with Office 2004
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Messing with Spreadsheets

Working with spreadsheet data is not usually considered creative. Data is data, most people would say, and there's not much you can do to liven up figures and calculations.

That said, Excel has always included tools for making lists of numbers look interesting, and there's a new feature in Office 2004 designed to make this even easier.

Excel 2004 includes some new tools for playing with data graphically. The Chart Formatting toolbar now contains a dropdown menu (see below) that lets you switch from one chart type to another. A simple line graph can become a bar chart, 3D pie chart, or radar chart. It's a useful way of trying out different visualizations quickly, so you can decide which one suits your data best.

Excel's chart formatting toolbar Excel's Chart Formatting toolbar in action.

Excel supports a very thorough range of export options, which now include raw XML. Want to hand-edit the file in a text editor? Unlikely, I know, but the option's there if you want it.

More from PowerPoint

It's easy to get frustrated with PowerPoint. All that effort, so much clicking, just to produce a few slides.

Thankfully one of Word's most useful features has been included in the new Notebook, and suddenly writing a presentation need not be such a chore.

The new Notebook makes writing outlines very quick and easy, and it includes the helpful File > Send to > Microsoft PowerPoint command, which exports your outline into a new PowerPoint document. Just apply some formatting styles, and zap! Your presentation is ready.

Before: An outline written in Notebook.

After: The same outline in a PowerPoint file.

Another new addition to PowerPoint is the Presenter Tools view, which is enabled with View > Presenter Tools. This opens your document in full-screen mode, but still with the ability to edit notes, monitor slide arrangement, and track timings as well. It's a strange combination of preview and edit, but it might come in useful for last-minute tweaks and timed rehearsals (if your presentation is one of those Really Important ones).

PowerPoint's Presenter Tools view PowerPoint's Presenter Tools view.

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