Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm angry: Excel has crazy changes!

I was doing a workshop today for a few of my calculus students on using numerical integration techniques. I started to show them how to use Excel, and it had changed!
  1. The columns are no longer lettered, they're numbered, just like the rows. I don't even know how to refer to a particular cell any more!
  2. The formulas no longer refer to cell labels, but to the distance from the formula cell. (This is relative addressing, which was implied before, but not obvious in the formula.) 
  3. The way you click to select has changed too, and I had real trouble typing in my formulas.


  1. You have to uncheck the R1C1 reference style in excel options.

  2. It is frustrating when software companies decide to add a lot of unnecessary bells, whistles, and frills that get in the way of the functionality you really need.

    For many purposes, I would encourage students to consider using googledocs spreadsheets rather than Excel. It is free and widely available. It is quite functional and doesn't have a huge menu of nonessential frills.

    You can even collaborate on a google spreadsheet, either asynchronously or in real time with a chat window that opens up in a sidebar next to your spreadsheet.

    By the way, for anything statistically complex and important, beware of using spreadsheets in general. See here:

  3. Mary, my students were using the google docs spreadsheet app, and none of us could figure out how to add a new column!

    I have done nothing and all my spreadsheets are back to the old lettered columns. (I've moved, with my laptop, to my home. I was at work. I don't know how that could affect it, but that's the only change I can imagine.)

  4. Hi Sue, I've just stumbled here from Sam's blog. I wish this could work for you:
    (In google docs spreadsheet) pass over the letter cell of any column, then a tiny down arrow will show up. Click it and choose "Insert 1 to the left/right" (it's up to your purposes). Strangely enough, if the column is narrow, you must enlarge it before you can see the arrow.
    (Sorry for my bad English)

  5. Thanks. I'll have to borrow my son's ipod to test that out.


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