The migration to Excel 2007 from older versions doesn't have to be difficult. If you understand the potential problems, fewer problems will arise.

Unlike other versions of Excel, there are enough changes in the newest version that it is worth enrolling in Microsoft Excel training for Excel 2007, even if you already are familiar with old versions of the application. Even with training, there are two big and a bunch of little pitfalls ahead.

New File Format

Excel 2007 introduces a new file format that is more robust, allows enormous workbooks, and works better with a wide variety of software. You'll hear all about it in Microsoft Excel training. However, using the old file format isn't absolutely critical since the rest of the world is probably still using older versions of Excel.

To tell Excel 2007 to save in the older format, click the Office button, Excel Options, Save, then under "Save files in this format" select "Excel 97-2003 Workbook (*.xls)". Users of older versions can download a Microsoft patch that allows them to open 2007 workbooks, but in most cases it is easier if everyone simply sticks to the old format.

There is one problem with this, but you knew there would be. Microsoft has made some odd changes that can create compatibility problems. For example, they have changed the default palette. If you shade a cell with light gray in Excel 2007 then try to save it as an .xls file, you will get a compatibility warning. Why? Because Excel 2007 light gray is slightly different from the light gray used in other versions of Excel.

The answer to this is to create a custom palette that includes the original colors from Excel. No such palette exists in Excel 2007 so you will have to create it yourself.

The Ribbon

If you've been researching Excel, you have probably heard mixed reviews about the ribbon. It's different - but is it better? It depends on who you ask, but it's not hard to get used to. Experienced Excel users actually seem to have the easiest time getting used to it. The casual users have the most problems.

One saving grace is that all the old menu commands work from the keyboard. So if you got used to using Alt-I, R to select "Insert Row" from the menu, that still works. This is one area that Microsoft Excel training can help. It can take time to find out where things have been placed, especially for features you used only occasionally.

In addition to these major features, there are lots of small things that have changed. New tools have been added as well and Microsoft Excel training can introduce you to a host of features to make your spreadsheets better.