In the following video I explain the difference between the color palettes and a solution for making your new workbooks look the same when opened in Excel 2003 or earlier.
The new theme based color palettes in Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013 are great for designing spreadsheets and charts that are visually appealing. But did you know that those colors are being converted to the old 56 color palette when opened in a previous version of Excel? This means your new spreadsheets could look like the following when opened by clients or colleagues using Excel 2003 or earlier versions.
Excel 2007 workbooks contain a 56 color palette that will be used when the file is opened by previous versions of Excel. You can see this palette by opening an Excel workbook and going to: Office Button > Excel Options > Save (option in left sidebar) > Colors… button (after: Choose what colors will be seen in previous versions).
This is the default color palette in older versions of Excel, and Excel automatically converts your new theme colors to these colors.
Does this sound confusing, time consuming, and frustrating? Well don't worry…
The Color Palette Conversion Tool is a simple utility that retrieves the colors you've used in your workbook and updates the previous version palette automatically. With the click of a few buttons you will ensure that all Excel users see the same colors you do in your fonts, borders, and background fills. This is critical for presentation purposes, and general sanity if you have Excel 2007 at work and a previous version at home.
The tool has a few advanced features that allow you to control your previous version palette colors, plan for future designs, make updates in multiple workbooks, and easily view or restore default palette colors. The tool is just a single worksheet in a workbook that contains macros to run this process. You can use it as a stand alone, or add in to your workbooks if you want to make frequent updates.
Here is what your spreadsheets will look like in previous versions after using the Color Palette Conversion tool.
If you're currently going into your previous version palette and modifying colors, you know how time consuming it can be to change the colors. You have to manually type in the RGB codes for each color you use from the new theme palette. It's a painful process, but must be done if you want your spreadsheet colors to be universal with all Excel versions. This tool eliminates all that work. I explain the color palettes in more detail on the download page. I hope you find this tool useful and please post questions or suggestions below.
You probably find yourself formatting the same spreadsheets in the same way daily, weekly, or monthly. This can be a very time consuming and redundant task. And even if it only takes you five to ten minutes to apply page layouts or format header rows; those minutes add up and you may lose some consistency if you forget something.
The Format Copier tool automates the process of applying page layout and formatting options to multiple sheets in multiple workbooks. And you can store your formatted sheets, which we will call templates, to use when you have to format the same unformatted reports in the future.
The Format Copier is a workbook that contains:
With the press of a few buttons you will be able to apply your template formatting to multiple worksheets and workbooks.
You've probably already figured this out, but the Format Copier will save you lots of time. Especially if you're formatting the same reports over and over again. The tool is very easy to use and even stores your formatting preferences so you don't have to remember which formatting options you use for each template.
This tool will help if you spend time doing any of the following in Excel:
Ok, that's an Office Space reference… And with this tool you won't ever have to worry about messing up your reports and angering your boss. You might have a general ledger reporting software that exports reports in an plain looking format, or doesn't format them at all. The Format Copier will transform these reports to your specification, making them easy to read and print. And you will produce reports that are formatted consistently, without having to dig up reports from previous months to compare.
The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Excel 2007 is extremely useful for creating keyboard shortcuts for items that don't have a defined keyboard shortcut. For example, there is no defined keyboard shortcut to Paste Values but you can easily set it up on the QAT.
The QAT is accessed through the keyboard by pressing the Alt key. Press and release the Alt key and you will see numbers appear next to each icon on the QAT.
So Alt + [the icon number] is the keyboard shortcut for each item. In this example, the keyboard shortcut for paste values is Alt+1. The keyboard shortcut for the format painter is Alt+2.
There are two ways to use the keyboard shortcut.
I tend to move the icons around based on the task I'm working on in Excel. If I'm going to be using the format painter a lot, I will move it to the “1” position (farthest left) while I'm using it. This is mainly because it is easier to Press Alt+1, Alt+2, and Alt+3 on the keyboard by placing your right thumb on Alt and right index finger on the number. The other numbers can be a bit of a stretch, depending on your keyboard.
See my post on how to setup the QAT for more details.
The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Excel 2007 is a great option for shortcuts to your most used commands. It's faster to click on an icon in the QAT (one click) versus clicking on the ribbon tab and then the command (two clicks + mouse navigation). And you can use keyboard shortcuts for the QAT to make things even easier.
Setting up the QAT is simple and consists of two steps: Adding commands and arranging the icons.
The easiest way to add commands to the toolbar is to:
The command icon will be added to the end of the QAT.
To arrange the icons:
The order of the icons becomes important when you are using keyboard shortcuts to access the commands. And I highly recommend this as a much faster way to execute commands in Excel, versus using the mouse. You can also use the Options window (above) to add and remove commands from the toolbar.
This will depend on what you use Excel for and which commands you use most often. If you are doing lots of data entry and manipulation you might want to have the “Paste Values” and “Format Painter” commands at the top of your list. Reporting and analyzing, you may want some charting and page layout commands. The key is to have the commands you use most often located closest to the left because the keyboard shortcuts are easier to press with your thumb and index finger.
The toolbar can be place above or below the ribbon by clicking the down arrow to the right of the QAT and selecting Show Below the Ribbon or Show Above the Ribbon.
I prefer to have it above because it reduces the total vertical height of the top toolbars, which gives you more spreadsheet real estate. But you may find that you have so many icons that it fits better below the ribbon. If you are a heavy mouse user (vs. keyboard shortcuts) then it is also easier to navigate to the QAT if it is below the ribbon.
Checkout my recommendations on commonly used commands for the Quick Access Toolbar.