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The Mini Toolbar and Other Excel 2007 U.I. Improvements

Although the ribbon and Quick Access toolbar are likely to be the most talked-about features in the new Excel interface, several other features are worth mentioning. "Mr. Excel" Bill Jelen discusses the mini toolbar, formula bar, zoom slider and other new or changed UI features in Excel 2007.
This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

Using the Mini Toolbar to Format Selected Text


Expanding the Formula Bar


Zooming In and Out on a Worksheet


Using the Status Bar to Add Numbers


Switching Between Normal View, Page Break Preview, and Page Layout View Modes


Using the New Sheet Icon to Add Worksheets


Although the ribbon and Quick Access toolbar are likely to be the most talked-about features in the new Excel interface, several other features are worth mentioning:

  • Mini toolbar—The mini toolbar appears whenever you select text. Although this may happen rarely when you're editing cells in Excel, it does happen frequently when you are working with charts, text boxes, and so on. The Mini toolbar offers quick access to font, size, bold, italics, alignment, color, indenting, and bullets.
  • Formula bar—The formula bar includes the ability to expand or contract itself at your whim instead of the whim of Excel.
  • Zoom slider—The Zoom slider allows you to quickly change from seeing one page to hundreds of pages at a time.
  • Status bar—The status bar appears at the bottom of your worksheet window. Although you probably never noticed it, the status bar in previous versions of Excel reported the total of any selected cells. This information is now improved and expanded in Excel 2007.
  • View control—The View control gives you one-click access to Page Break Preview mode, Normal mode, and the new Page Layout view.
  • New Sheet icon—The New Sheet icon allows you to add new worksheets to a workbook with a single click.

Using the Mini Toolbar to Format Selected Text

The Mini toolbar is a shy attendant. When you select some text, almost imperceptibly, the Mini toolbar faintly appears above the text.

If you ignore the Mini toolbar, it fades away. However, if you move the mouse toward the Mini toolbar, the toolbar solidifies and offers you several text formatting options.

In your initial use of Excel 2007, you might not see the Mini toolbar. Although you often select cells or ranges of cells, it is rare to select only a portion of a cell value in Cell Edit mode.

However, as you begin using charts, SmartArt diagrams, and text boxes, you will have the Mini toolbar appearing frequently.

To use the Mini toolbar, you follow these steps:

  1. Select some text. If you are selecting text in a cell, you must select a portion of the text in the cell by using Cell Edit mode. In a chart, SmartArt diagram, or text box, you can select any text.

    The Mini toolbar appears faintly. On some computers and with some color schemes, "faintly" actually means "completely transparently."

  2. Move the mouse pointer toward the Mini toolbar, and the toolbar solidifies. The Mini toolbar stays visible if your mouse is above it. After a period of inactivity, it disappears. If you move the mouse away from the Mini toolbar, it fades away.
  3. Make changes in the Mini toolbar to affect the text you selected in step 1. The Mini toolbar always has the same icons, even though some of them may not apply in the current situation. In Figure 3.1, for example, it does not make sense to apply indenting to the chart axis title, but the icons are always there and in the same place.
    Figure 3.1

    Figure 3.1 You can barely make out the word Magneto above the number 2005. This is the Mini toolbar beginning to appear.

  4. When you are done formatting the selected text, you can either move the mouse away from the Mini toolbar or use the Format Painter icon to apply the changes to additional text.
  5. To use the Format Painter icon, click the paintbrush in the upper-right corner of the Mini toolbar. Then move toward other text in the document. The mouse pointer is a black-and-white paintbrush, to indicate that you are in Format Painter mode. When you click the other text, Excel applies the same formatting to the new text.

Initially, it is difficult to see the Mini toolbar. In Figure 3.1, look for the word Magneto just above the year 2005 on the x-axis. This word is the font name drop-down in the Mini toolbar. Plus, this is the second level of visibility; you actually have to have started moving your mouse toward the Mini toolbar in order to get it to appear this much.

If you continue moving the mouse toward the Mini toolbar, it solidifies a bit more. In Figure 3.2, the mouse pointer is just outside the border of the Mini toolbar. At this point, you can start to identify all the controls on it.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 As you move the mouse closer to the Mini toolbar, it begins to solidify.

In Figure 3.3, the Mini toolbar is completely visible. At this point, you can use any of its 14 controls in order to format the selected text.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 In the fully visible state, the Mini toolbar offers a dozen controls for formatting text.

In the top row, the Mini toolbar offers five controls:

  • Font name drop-down—You open this drop-down to choose a typeface. Each of the various font names is displayed in its own font so that you can select an appropriate font easily.
  • Font Size drop-down—This drop-down offers font sizes from 8 to 96, in several increments.
  • Increase Font Size icon—You click this icon to bump the font up to the next larger size.
  • Decrease Font Size icon—You click this icon to make the font one size smaller.
  • Format Painter—The format painter allows you to copy formatting from one place to another. (The format painter is discussed in detail in the following section.)

In the bottom row, the Mini toolbar offers nine controls:

  • Bold icon—You use this to toggle bold on and off. If bold is already applied, the Bold icon has a glow effect around it.
  • Italics icon—You use this to toggle italics on and off.
  • Align Left icon—You click this control to left-align the text.
  • Center Align icon—You click this control to center the text.
  • Right Align icon—You click this control to right-align the text.
  • Font Color drop-down—You use this drop-down to select a color. A menu item at the bottom of this drop-down allows you to display the Colors dialog box.
  • Decrease Indent icon—You click this control to decrease the indent.
  • Increase Indent icon—You click this control to increase the indent.
  • Bullet drop-down—You can choose from seven styles of bullets or none. A menu item at the bottom of the drop-down allows you to open the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.

Using the Format Painter to Copy Formats

After you have formatted the selected text by using the Mini toolbar, you might want to apply the same formatting to other text. To do so, you follow these steps:

  1. Click the Format Painter icon in the upper-right corner of the Mini toolbar.
  2. Move your mouse away from the Mini toolbar, and it disappears. Your mouse pointer is now in the shape of a paintbrush, as shown in Figure 3.4.
    Figure 3.4

    Figure 3.4 The paintbrush icon indicates that the selected format will be applied to whatever you select next.

  3. Click the vertical axis title. The selected format is applied, as shown in Figure 3.5.
    Figure 3.5

    Figure 3.5 You can click another text element to apply the same formatting you have applied to other text.

Getting the Mini Toolbar Back

The shyness of the Mini toolbar might be the most frustrating part of using it. If you move the mouse away from the Mini toolbar, it fades away. If you immediately move back toward the Mini toolbar, it comes back. If you use the mouse for some other task, such as scrolling, the Mini toolbar permanently goes away. In this case, you might have to re-select the text in order to get the Mini toolbar to come back.

Disabling the Mini Toolbar

If you are annoyed by the Mini toolbar, you can turn it off for all Excel workbooks. Here's what you do:

  1. Select Office Icon, Excel Options.
  2. In the Personalize category of the Excel Options dialog, clear the Show Mini Toolbar on Selection check box.

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