1. Excel Interface Updates

Changes to Excel 2016's interface include modifications to the layout of the Start, New, and Save As screens, new options on the File menu and Quick Access toolbar, simplified Ribbon icons, an Active Tab indicator, as well as new Ribbon tabs and command buttons.

Start, New, Open and Save As screens

Figures 1-1 through 1-4 in the Display Screen and Menu Updates gallery above show you the first part of the modified layouts of the Start, New, Open, and Save As screens, respectively, in Excel 2016. The biggest change to the Start menu in Fig. 1-1  (beside the greeting) is the appearance of Pinned and Shared with Me category options along with the default Recent option that lists workbook files you've edited lately. These options make it easy to open workbooks you've recently shared or pinned because you often work with them. The biggest change to the Open screen shown in Fig. 1-3 is the Folders option that enables you to switch from a list of pinned or recently edited workbooks to a list of pinned or recently opened folders that may contain the workbook file you want to work with (a folder list similar to the one shown on the Save AS screen in Fig. 1-4).

File menu

The following three submenus have been added to the File menu in the Excel 2016 Backstage view:


  1. Save As Adobe PDF (see Fig. 1-5 in the Display Screen and Menu Updates gallery above) that enables you to save your workbook as a PDF using Acrobat PDF Maker that team members with whom you share the PDF file can then review and comment on.
  2. Publish that enables you to upload your entire Excel workbook or specified data within it to Microsoft Power BI where you can create and share visual reports and dashboards.
  3. Feedback that enables you to give Microsoft feedback on what you like and don't like about Excel 2016 and to give their engineers suggestions on changes and new features that you 'd like to see in the app.

Quick Access toolbar

Fig.1-6 in the Display Screen and Menu Updates gallery above shows the Quick Access toolbar with the new AutoSave and Add-Ins buttons, The AutoSave button indicates when the edits you make to any workbook saved in the cloud on OneDrive or one of your SharePoint sites are automatically saved. The Add-ins button on the right side of the Quick Access toolbar contains the following three menu options for adding new features to Excel:


  1. Add-Ins that enables you to install Office add-ins available in the store on the web (equivalent to Insert-->Add-Ins-->Get-Add-Ins).
  2. Excel Add-Ins that enables you to install Excel add-ins such as Analysis ToolPak Euro-Currency Tools, and the Solver Add-In (equivalent to Insert-->Add-Ins-->Get Add-Ins). 
  3. COM Add-Ins that enables you to install COM add-ins such as Power Map. Power Pivot, and Power View for Excel  (equivalent to File->Options-->Add-Ins-->COM Add-Ins-->Go).

Active Tab indicator

Until very recently, the only way to quickly and easily identify which tab on the Excel Ribbon was active was by scanning the command icons displayed on it. Now, with the introduction of the Active Tab indicator, you can tell at once which tab is current without reference to any of the command buttons displayed below. The Active Tab indicator (the heavy green underline) shown above the mouse cursor in Fig. 1-7 in the preceding Ribbon and Tab Updates gallery immediately tells you that the Home tab is current without looking at any of its command icons. Likewise, in Fig. 1-8 in the same gallery, you can tell at a glance that the Insert tab is now active because the Active Tab indicator now appears under its tab label.

Simplified Tab icons

In an attempt to make Office apps such as Excel faster and easier to navigate on all the devices on which it runs, Microsoft has simplified the icons representing various commands on the tabs of the Ribbon. By and large, these simplified icons are a bit larger than the original as well as a bit flatter in appearance (see Fig. 1-8 in the Ribbon and Tab Updates gallery above). Simplified icons now appear in all current versions of Office applications, including Excel 2016 and 2019.

Help tab

Microsoft has replaced the original Help window in Excel 2016 with a new Help task pane (F1) and Help tab on the Ribbon (see Fig. 1-9 in the Ribbon and Tab Updates gallery above). The Help tab contains command buttons that enable you to open the Help tab, contact support. suggest new features, review basic tutorials, as well as go online for information on using Excel. The Help task pane enables you to search for help topics as well as select help on accomplishing common tasks such as entering formulas and functions, formatting your worksheet, creating tables and charts, and so forth.

Draw tab

Excel 2016 now makes it easy to mark up your worksheets with ink using your finger or a stylus and the command buttons on the Draw tab (see Fig. 1-10 in the Ribbon and Tab Updates gallery above). The Draw tab now includes more options for the pens you select as well as a Add Pen button that makes it easy to define a custom pen, pencil, or highlighter to use in inking. In addition, the tab includes new Ink to Shape and Ink to Math command buttons that enable you to convert ink to actual drawn shapes in your worksheet. 

Acrobat tab

The new Acrobat tab that appears on the Excel 2016 Ribbon contains command buttons makes it easy to convert your worksheets into Adobe PDF files as well as send them out for review using the Acrobat PDF Maker (see Fig. 1-11 in the Ribbon and Tab Updates gallery above). When you send out a converted PDF worksheet to team members in this fashion, they can then comment on its contents and send them back to you using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (Document Cloud) app.