Microsoft Excel

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We all love the ability to organize data, in spreadsheets.  I love Excel 2008 and its other versions, though I always am aware of ways that things can be improved.  I’m sure the tip in this article for Excel 2008 for the Mac will apply to other versions as well.

Okay—so if you’re using the spiffy new Excel 2008 for Mac—you may have had the chance to learn some new things over and against the older versions.

One thing that you may have learned to do (in older Excel versions) is keep data relevant by maintaining the visibility of row-header (left column) and column-header (top-row) title information by using the Excel option freeze panes from the window menu. (This is from a list of Excel tutorials—which did seem to pose some problems for a few people accessing it.)

You might have a problem using this option, if you’re working in Mac’s Excel 2008.  The reason would be that you’re in the Page View mode, rather than the Normal View mode—which can be selected from the “View Menu.”

I like the “Page Layout” view because it gives you the feeling of holding ordinary paper, and gives you the view of what your printed Excel sheets will look like, but because freezing panes does not affect printing, it cannot thus affect how “Page Layout” view will look.  “Normal View” is where you want to be.

This answer was found on the following help forum thread: “Excel Freeze Panes ghosted – Why?” which taught me an invaluable lesson about forum diving:

Forum Help Tip #1: Scrolling to the bottom of a help forum may save you some time, though I may have learned more by reading the whole thing.  (The above forum thread has the answer at the bottom—as the last post.)

So, true to form, as mentioned above:

If you find yourself asking “How do I freeze panes in Excel 2008 for the Mac?” and can’t freeze panes because the option is gray / greyed-out, ghosted, or whatever you call it, here’s your answer:

Use “Normal” view, not “Page Layout” and Freeze Panes will work fine.  (Use the “View” menu.)

P.S.  Having to research this tip helped me remember why I was blogging, and lifted me out of a doldrums of existential questioning about the life of this blog itself, at least for the moment.  This experience with not being able to freeze panes in Microsoft Excel 2008 for the Mac left me with this thought: in other words: one practical reason I started this blog was to remember/record ways of helping keep track of vital things I’d learned in an easy-to-find place, while sharing them with other people.

P.P.S. I’ve discovered (having lost this article once) that WordPress doesn’t seem to autosave all the data in a blog post (not my main text, anyhow—though my zemanta assisted keywords and meta-stuff remained).  Maybe composing in Google docs or the like would be a better idea?