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Excel 2003: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Chapter 21. Worksheet Collaboration

When Microsoft first created Excel, the personal computer was a piece of standalone hardware, capable of some remarkable feats but cut off from the rest of the world. Today, with local networks and the ever-growing Internet, you have the ability to share information, exchange ideas, and collaborate on projects with a large group of friends or a team of co-workers. Excel joins the party with a set of useful collaboration features that lets groups of people work together to edit spreadsheets.

Collaboration with Excel revolves around two key features:

  • Comments. Excel’s comments feature lets you insert questions, suggestions, or other miscellaneous notes that point to specific cells (like “This number’s wrong” or “Please boost the sales estimate so we can impress the boss”). The person who created the spreadsheet can respond to these comments by modifying the data accordingly.

  • Change tracking. Change tracking is the real muscle in Excel collaboration. Change tracking lets you keep track of the edits made by multiple people. You can then choose to apply or reject some or all of the changes. If multiple people make changes to different copies of the same document, you can even merge all their changes back into the original file in one step, saving countless headaches.

In this chapter, you’ll take a close look at both these features. You’ll also learn how Excel can help you manage the whole review chain , so that workbooks travel from one person to ...

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