Excel 2003 Vs Excel 2007 - What's New in Excel 2007


Microsoft MVP


Article by Gillian Moon



If you are a regular Excel 2003 user, you will probably have recently become aware of increasing numbers of people using Excel 2007.

You may even have been sent Excel 2007 workbooks and had problems opening them. Whatever the case, it is likely that you will, at some point, consider switching to Excel 2007.

But what are the main benefits of Excel 2007 vs Excel 2003, and how much effort will be involved in making the switch?

Number of Rows and Columns

One of the main developments in Excel 2007 is that it allows more columns and rows. For many users this may have never been a concern - after all, the 65,536 rows and 256 columns provided by Excel 2003 can accommodate a large amount of data. However, it isn't that unusual for users to want to handle HUGE amounts of data! Therefore Excel 2007's ability to handle over 1 million rows and over 16,000 columns of data is a great advantage for many users.

Conditional Formatting

Major changes have been introduced to Conditional Formatting in Excel 2007. These changes are:

# Excel 2007 allows as many different conditions as the user wishes to specify, whereas in Excel 2003, the user was limited to just 3 different conditional formats.
# Conditional formatting in Excel 2007 can even be made to work for cells that satisfy more than one condition. For example, if you set cells with values >= 10 to be formatted with bold text and cells with values and red text.

# Excel 2007 offers new types of conditional formatting, such as Data Bars, Color Scales & Icon Sets, all of which apply colour or symbols to a range of cells, depending upon each cell's value compared to the rest of the selected range.

# Conditional formatting in Excel 2007 can be used on pivot tables.

At first, the Excel 2007 conditional formatting interface can appear to be fairly complicated, but the time invested in familiarising yourself with this functionality is well worthwhile!

Other new functionality

There are a number of other really useful additions to Excel 2007. These include:

# Excel 2007 allows up to 64 levels of nested functions - this compares to just 7 in Excel 2003.

# Excel 2007 allows you to sort and filter columns by colour (either font colour or cell shading)

# Excel 2007, has a resizeable formula bar, which extends in line with your cell contents. This prevents the inconvenience of long formulas covering up part of your spreadsheet (as happened in Excel 2003).

# In Excel 2007, memory management has been increased from 1 gigabyte to 2 gigabytes and complex calculations are now faster.

# Excel 2007 includes several new built-in functions.

Possible Drawbacks

There have been some reports that the updating of charts in Excel 2007 is slower than in Excel 2003. Also, the recording of macros involving charts frequently doesn't work! For many users, this isn't a great concern. However, if you frequently perform chart updates, or record macros involving charts, you should test out Excel 2007 before committing to it.

The user interface of Excel 2007 has also undergone great changes, compared to Excel 2003. The new interface is described by Microsoft as being "results-oriented". However, if you have been using earlier versions of Excel for several years, you will no doubt, know exactly where to find the tools and functionality that you regularly use. Therefore, you may, at first, struggle to find everything in Excel 2007. My advice is to persevere... after a few weeks you will be familiar with the new layout, and will find that it really is set out in a logical and user friendly format.

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