Two Thumbs Up: Office 2013 Enhanced For Tablets, Thumb Control

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Excel 2013 is now fully-touch enabled, allowing finger or hand gestures to move through spreadsheets, charts and graphs with one-tap object zoom. It contains many of the same interface enhancements as those in Word, including a touch mode, direct access and the ability to post to web-based image repositories, as well as simplified sharing and online presentation. There are also some fairly impressive whiz-bang features that simplify database population and the generation of useful reports and visually appealing graphics.

For those who have done a fair amount of importing into Excel, you've undoubtedly had at least one encounter with the dreaded conundrum of having all the data go into a single column. Now, a feature in Excel 2013 called Flash Fill takes care of that. As you manually correct the import, moving it piece-by-piece into separate columns, this impressive feature observes your activity and offers to finish the job for you. That's right. Excel 2013 moves data that was incorrectly placed into a single column and automatically moves it to multiple columns. In fact, Flash Fill recognizes any repetitive behavior pattern and offers to replicate it without macros or scripts.

Anyone who has used pivot tables knows that they can be fairly challenging to create. Now, a new feature called Recommended PivotTable analyzes your data and suggests options for creating a pivot table that best summarizes the information in the current spreadsheet. And, a Quick Trend feature lets you pull up a historical chart and format it with more control and precision than in prior Excel versions. There's also a Timeline Slicer to further aid in visualization of data over specific time periods. For manipulating large data sets in real time, an add-in called PowerPivot makes Excel behave like an in-memory database.

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