Before new technology parked picture editing firmly on the desktop, I remember marking up photographs by hand to be scanned by the reproduction department: size, ratio, cropping and whether the image was worthy enough to be treated as colour were instructions that had to be written on the back of each photograph with a chinagraph pencil.

The choice was not endless; limitations were dictated by time, space and, most importantly, cost. When it came to thinking about special picture effects we might occasionally go crazy and opt for a duotone just to break the monotony. Special treatments were not widespread and it was considered radical to go off-spec with anything unless the image was accompanying editorial for an equally radical topic - maybe a feature on a poptastic punk piece for example.

The duotone was our mini rebellion in the world of rigid reproduction rules. But even back in those pre-Office days, duotones were not new; indeed they have been in existence since the early days of photography and the duotone was often regarded as a monochrome print, because the image appears to be comprised of variants on a single colour.

Duotones were the choice of a designer when budget was limited and they wanted to create a more sophisticated, but sometimes more subtle effect. Full four colour process printing could be more expensive and the clever use of duotones enhanced the image without paying a heavily printing price. Sepia or silver duotones have a saturated, rich look which greyscale images do not have, while duotones printed with more bright colours can pack a visual punch.

Even now, a duotone has a classic and timeless look, and can give your images that extra edge, using any colour. When you look closely at a magnified duotone, it's clear that the accent colour is not an accent at all. In a duotone, the second colour completely saturates the image, and every pixel will be altered.

Most graphic programs have an option which allows the user to make a duotone. Image manipulation also allows us to work with hue and saturation, creating a striking or simplistic image. While duotones are commonly made with black and another colour, any combination of colours could be used depending on the desired effect.

Duotones are a good alternative to black and white images and can produce a more saturated appearance; they can give a textured effect, while also capturing more photographic detail. A duotone can convey a subtle, yet effective message; or they can also be used to create a heavily tinted retro look. The uses for duotones are myriad, and they are easy to explore and print for people at all levels of graphics experience.

And when it comes to creating a processional spreadsheet with Microsoft Excel 2010, you can now access an array of professional photo editing techniques - including the multi-faced duotone. If you just need to spice up your spreadsheet a little bit, why not add some interesting graphics? You can now do some great things in Excel 2010 with the picture tools.

So, if you are struggling with how to present massive amounts of data in an interesting and creative way, you should seriously consider using images. Think about logos, for example; once you have inserted your logo into your spreadsheet, select your image and, using Picture Tools, in the Format tab, you can alter how the logo looks on page.

Included in Excel 2010 options is a range of new treatments - such as altering the brightness and colour contrast. These treatments are displayed as thumbnail options so that you can see exactly what will happen to your image by applying different levels of brightness, rather than just guessing. Other new and improved picture-editing tools available in Excel include a picture corrections tool that allows you to really fine tune the colour of a picture, or adjust brightness, contrast, or sharpness - all without having to use additional photo-editing software.

There's also better effects, which means you can apply different artistic effects to your picture to make it look like a sketch, drawing, or painting. These effects include Pencil Sketch, Line Drawing, Watercolor Sponge, Mosaic Bubbles, Glass, Pastels Smooth, Plastic Wrap, Photocopy, and Paint Strokes. Even borders are simple and it's easy to apply effects and colour.

It's now easier to use compression and cropping in Excel 2010 so that you have complete control of the image quality and compression trade-offs, so that you can make the right choice for the medium (print, screen, email) that your workbook will be used for.

And if you want to use other graphics such as drawings or SmartArt to help display your data, there's more features at your fingertips: Why not take a screenshot and add to your workbook? You can manipulate and edit your screenshot with the tools on the Picture Tools tab. And the new SmartArt graphics layout allows you to use a Captioned Picture layout to add caption information. On the Picture Tools Tab, select Picture Layout, then click on option to Convert to SmartArt. Your picture will now be converted to a SmartArt graphic and a host of features is available to really make your graphic stand out.

Spreadsheets no longer need to be a case of simple black and white text and rules. It's time to think outside the box and take a look at how Excel 2010 can put your data in the picture.