Excel Version History
The table below lists the various versions of Excel for Windows that you may encounter.
|1||1985||Version 1, for the Macintosh was released.|
|2||1987||The first Windows version was labeled "2" to correspond to the Mac version. This included a run-time version of Windows.|
|3||1990||Included toolbars, drawing capabilities, outlining, add-in support, 3D charts, and many more new features.|
|4||1992||The first "popular" version. Included lots of usability features.|
|5||1993||A major upgrade. Included multi-sheet workbooks and support for VBA.|
|7*||1995||Known as Excel 95. The first major 32-bit version of Excel**. Feature-wise, it's very similar to Excel 5.|
|8||1997||Known as Excel 97. A new interface for VBA developers, UserForms, data validation, and lots more.|
|9||1999||Known as Excel 2000. Can use HTML as a native file format, "self-repair" capability, enhanced clipboard, pivot charts, modeless user forms.|
|10||2001||Known as Excel 2002, this is
part of Office XP. It has a long list of new features, but most of them
will probably be of little value to the majority of users. Perhaps the
most significant feature is the ability to recover your work when Excel
This version features product activation technology (i.e., copy protection). Please consider the ramifications of this before deciding whether to upgrade.
Read John Walkenbach's Excel 2002 Review at PC World.
|11||2003||It's called Microsoft Office Excel 2003.
The new features in this version are: (a) improved support for XML, (b) a new "list range" feature, (c) Smart Tag enhancements, and (d) corrected statistical functions. Most users will not find the upgrade worthwhile.
|12||2007||Finally, some major changes in Excel. For some, the changes may actually be too major.||14 ***||2010||New features include sparkline graphics, pivot table slicers, an updated Solver, and a 64-bit version..||15||2013||New features include a single-document interface, charting enhancements, and recommended charts and pivot tables.|
* There is no Excel 6. Beginning with Excel 7, the version numbering was changed so all of the Microsoft Office applications would have the same version number.
** There was also 32-bit version of Excel 5, but it was not widely distributed.
*** There is no Version 13 of Microsoft Office
Searching The Web
There are many good Web sites devoted to Excel (you're viewing one of them right now). In my experience, at least 80% of all Excel questions can be answered by searching the Web. My favorite search engine is Google.
Here's a special Google search box that limits searching to about twenty Excel sites that I've hand-picked.
- Include multiple key words to help narrow your search.
- To exclude a word, precede it with a minus sign
- If you enclose two or more words in quotes, Google will search for that exact phrase.
Many people like to sit back and relax with a good book. There are hundreds of Excel books available, ranging from entertaining beginners guides (e.g., the "For Dummies" series from Wiley) to advanced books for developers.
I've written many Excel books, for users of all levels:
Or, you may find this list helpful:
Internet newsgroups are public forums devoted to a particular topic. There are thousands of newsgroups, covering virtually every topic you can think of (and many that you haven't thought of). In general, people post questions and others follow-up with answers.
This page lists all of the newsgroups that deal with Excel. Newsgroups are an excellent way to learn more about Excel, and to ask questions of other users.
You'll need software to access the newsgroups. Microsoft Outlook Express (renamed to Microsoft Windows Mail) is a good choice. Others prefer to use a program by Forte called Agent.
You'll need to configure your newsreader software to access Microsoft's news server, which is:
Or, you can access the microsoft.public.* newsgroups from using a browser-based interface via Google Groups.
You can perform a keyword search on past newsgroup postings. Often, this is an excellent alternative to posting a question to the newsgroup since you can get the answer immediately. The best source for searching newsgroup postings is Google.
For example, assume you're having a problem with your VBA Auto_Open procedure in Excel. You can perform a search using the following keywords: Excel, VBA, and Auto_Open. Either of these search engines will find dozens of newsgroup postings that deal with these topics. It may take a while to sift through the messages, but there's an excellent chance that you'll find an answer to your question.
Tips for posting to a newsgroup
If you decide to post a question to a newsgroup, first make sure that the question has not already been answered.
- Perform a google search to make sure that the question has not already been answered. (see Searching newsgroups, above)
- Make the subject line descriptive. Post with a subject line such as "Help me!" and "Excel Question" are less likely to be answered than a post with a subject like "Excel Charting Problem."
- Post in the appropriate newsgroup, and don't cross-post to other groups unless the question applies to multiple groups.
- Specify the Excel version that you are using.
- Make your question as specific as possible. Usually, stating that something "doesn't work right" isn't sufficient.
- Keep your message brief and to the point, but provide enough information so the question can actually be answered
- For best results, post only one question per message.
- Indicate what you've done to try to answer your own question.
- Don't type in all uppercase or all lowercase, and avoid using teen-style abbreviations such as "this is 4 U."
- Check your grammar and spelling.
- Avoid using jargon or acronyms that are specific to your industry.
- Don't include a file attachment.
- If you would like an e-mail reply, don't use an "anti-spam" e-mail address that requires the responder to modify your address.
Using Excel’s Help System
Excel's Help is what you see when you:
- Select Microsoft Excel Help from the Help menu
- Press F1
- Type a question into the Help box (not available in all versions)
Surprisingly, many users don't take full advantage of Excel's Help system. In the past, help was typically rather shallow and rarely provided any in-depth information. But that situation has changed. Now, Excel's Help system is the only source of documentation, and you'll find that it's usually quite comprehensive.
People ask me a lot of Excel questions, and I've found that a good number of them can be answered by simply reading the the Help system. When a problem occurs, start with a thorough search of the Help system, using keywords that describe the problem you're having. If your initial search doesn't yield a solution, try searching for a few more related terms. If you reach a dead-end, then move on to the other options.
Excel Discussion Forums
Here's a list of some Excel-related discussion forums. Here, you can post questions or answer questions posted by others.
- Excel Help Forum - from Joseph Rubin
- Mr. Excel Message Board - from Bill Jelen
- Excel User Group Forums - from Nick Hodge
- Xtreme VB Talk - Excel
Here's a list of Excel blogs that appear to be updated on a fairly regular basis:
- AJP Excel Information
- Andrew’s Excel Tips
- ASAP Utilities Excel Blog
- Contextures Blog
- Daily Dose Of Excel
- Excel Blog @ TVMCalcs.com
- Fresh Excel Tips
- Information Ocean
- JKP’s Excel Pages
- Jorge Camoe’s Charts
- Ken Puls Blog
- Methods In Excel
- Microsoft Excel Team Blog
- Newton Excel Bach
- Nick Hodge’s Excel Blog
- Pointy Haired Dilbert
- PTS Blog
- Smurf On Spreadsheets
- Spreadsheet Page Blog
- Spy Journal
You might prefer this method of checking blogs:
Excel Mailing Lists
The Internet is host to thousands of special interest mailing lists, which use e-mail as their distribution medium. These are sometimes known as list servers.
Here's how most mailing lists work: Mailing list members post to a central e-mail address, and the mail server then sends that e-mail message to all of the members on the list. To join a mailing list you must subscribe to it (it's free). You can unsubscribe at any time. The exact procedures vary, depending on the mailing list.
There are two Excel-related mailing lists available:
I haven't used these lists in many years, so I don't know how active or useful they are.
Help From Microsoft
Microsoft offers several forms of technical support: standard telephone support, priority (fee-based) telephone support, and a searchable knowledge base. To find out more, select Help - About Microsoft Excel, then click the Tech Support button.
If you use Excel 2007, click the round "office" button, and then click Excel Options. In the Excel Options dialog box, click Resources.
Microsoft's tech support is confusing, and continually changing. Here's a link to get you started:
After that, you're on your own.
This section contains a variety of information about Excel, sources for help and selected Excel-related links.