Chapter 2: Exploring Excel

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If you’re interested in programming Microsoft Office Excel 2003, you’re probably pretty familiar with the basic layout of an Excel workbook and have a good handle on how to manipulate workbooks, worksheets, data, and formulas. Even if you are familiar with Excel, you should at least skim this chapter to see if there are any interesting tidbits that you can use to make your life easier. But, if you’re comfortable creating scenarios, know how many colors can be used in an Excel workbook, and have a good handle on how Excel helps you create formulas, feel free to skip right to the next chapter.


The basic unit of organization in Excel is the workbook. In the Microsoft Office hierarchy, an Excel workbook is at the same level as a Microsoft Word document, a Microsoft Access database, and a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. And, just as documents contain sections, databases are built around tables, and presentations contain slides, Excel workbooks contain a set of sheets that actually hold the data and other Excel objects. Excel 2003 supports the following four types of sheets, but you will probably just use the first two of them:

  • Worksheets

  • Chart sheets

  • Excel 4.0 macro sheets (also known as XLM files)

  • Excel 5.0 dialog sheets (a way to create a custom dialog box)

While you can no longer create XLM files or dialog sheets, Excel 2003 does let you open files from Excel 4.0 or Excel 5.0 without losing any of the workbooks’ functionality. If you’re working in a company that has used the same basic workbooks for quite some time, the ability of Excel 2003 to work with the older files allows a straightforward transition from old to new.

New Excel workbooks come with three worksheets by default, but you can change that value by clicking Tools, Options, General and typing the desired number of worksheets in the Sheets In New Workbook box.


Limit the number of worksheets to one
If you plan to create a lot of templates, which requires saving a workbook that contains a single worksheet, you could save a few steps by changing the default number of worksheets to one until you are done creating templates.

You navigate among worksheets in a workbook using the controls on the tab bar at the bottom left corner of the Excel window. Each worksheet has its own sheet tab (named Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3 by default); clicking a sheet tab displays the corresponding sheet, while right-clicking a sheet tab displays a shortcut menu with commands to insert a new sheet, rename or delete the selected sheet, move or copy sheets, or change the color of the sheet tab of the selected sheet. The ability to change the color of a sheet tab was introduced in Excel 2002 and is a handy technique you can use to indicate where you made changes in a workbook, emphasize one sheet over another (such as if you create a summary worksheet), and facilitate workbook navigation.


One little-known limitation in Excel is that you may use up to only 56 colors in a workbook. The limitation doesn’t include the colors depicted in graphics you embed or link to in a workbook, so if you need to display a complex chart with more than 56 colors you will need to create the chart, export the chart and its legend to a graphics program, edit the chart and legend, and either display the chart and legend as a separate graphics file or embed the new file in your workbook.

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Microsoft Excel 2003 Programming Inside Out
Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Programming Inside Out (Inside Out (Microsoft))
ISBN: 0735619859
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 161

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