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Microsoft Excel is a
spreadsheet developed by
Microsoft for Windows,
macOS, Android and iOS. It
features calculation, graphing
tools, pivot tables, and a
macro programming
language called Visual Basic
for Applications. It has been a
very widely applied
spreadsheet for these
platforms, especially since
version 5 in 1993, and it has
replaced Lotus 1-2-3 as the
industry standard for
spreadsheets. Excel forms part
of Microsoft Office.
Basic operation
Main article: Spreadsheet
Microsoft Excel has the basic
features of all
spreadsheets,[4] using a grid
of cells arranged in numbered
rows and letter-named
columns to organize data
manipulations like arithmetic
operations. It has a battery of
supplied functions to answer
statistical, engineering and
financial needs. In addition, it
can display data as line
graphs, histograms and
charts, and with a very limited
three-dimensional graphical
display. It allows sectioning of
data to view its dependencies
on various factors for
different perspectives (using
pivot tables and the scenario
manager).[5] It has a
programming aspect, Visual
Basic for Applications,
allowing the user to employ a
wide variety of numerical
methods, for example, for
solving differential equations
of mathematical physics,[6][7]
and then reporting the results
back to the spreadsheet. It
also has a variety of
interactive features allowing
user interfaces that can
completely hide the
spreadsheet from the user, so
the spreadsheet presents
itself as a so-called application,
or decision support system
(DSS), via a custom-designed
user interface, for example, a
stock analyzer,[8] or in
general, as a design tool that
asks the user questions and
provides answers and
reports.[9][10][11] In a more
elaborate realization, an Excel
application can automatically
poll external databases and
measuring instruments using
an update schedule,[12]
analyze the results, make a
Word report or PowerPoint
slide show, and e-mail these
presentations on a regular
basis to a list of participants.
Excel was not designed to be
used as a
database.[citation needed]
Microsoft allows for a number
of optional command-line
switches to control the
manner in which Excel
Excel 2016 has 484
functions.[14] Of these, 360
existed prior to Excel 2010.
Microsoft classifies these
functions in 14 categories. Of
the 484 current functions,
386 may be called from VBA
as methods of the object
"WorksheetFunction"[15] and
44 have the same names as
VBA functions.[16]
Macro programming
VBA programming
Main article: Visual Basic for
Use of a user-defined function
sq(x) in Microsoft Excel. The
named variables x & y are
identified in the Name
Manager. The function sq is
introduced using the Visual
Basic editor supplied with
Subroutine in Excel calculates
the square of named column
variable x read from the
spreadsheet, and writes it into
the named column variable y.
The Windows version of Excel
supports programming
through Microsoft's Visual
Basic for Applications (VBA),
which is a dialect of Visual
Basic. Programming with VBA
allows spreadsheet
manipulation that is awkward
or impossible with standard
spreadsheet techniques.
Programmers may write code
directly using the Visual Basic
Editor (VBE), which includes a
window for writing code,
debugging code, and code
module organization
environment. The user can
implement numerical methods
as well as automating tasks
such as formatting or data
organization in VBA[17] and
guide the calculation using
any desired intermediate
results reported back to the
VBA was removed from Mac
Excel 2008, as the developers
did not believe that a timely
release would allow porting
the VBA engine natively to Mac
OS X. VBA was restored in the
next version, Mac Excel
2011,[18] although the build
lacks support for ActiveX
objects, impacting some high
level developer tools.[19]
A common and easy way to
generate VBA code is by using
the Macro Recorder.[20] The
Macro Recorder records
actions of the user and
generates VBA code in the
form of a macro. These
actions can then be repeated
automatically by running the
macro. The macros can also
be linked to different trigger
types like keyboard
shortcuts,[21] a command
button or a graphic. The
actions in the macro can be
executed from these trigger
types or from the generic
toolbar options. The VBA code
of the macro can also be
edited in the VBE. Certain
features such as loop
functions and screen prompt
by their own properties, and
some graphical display items,
cannot be recorded but must
be entered into the VBA
module directly by the
programmer. Advanced users
can employ user prompts to
create an interactive program,
or react to events such as
sheets being loaded or
Macro Recorded code may not
be compatible with Excel
versions. Some code that is
used in Excel 2010 cannot be
used in Excel 2003. Making a
Macro that changes the cell
colours and making changes
to other aspects of cells may
not be backward compatible.
VBA code interacts with the
spreadsheet through the Excel
Object Model,[22] a vocabulary
identifying spreadsheet
objects, and a set of supplied
functions or methods that
enable reading and writing to
the spreadsheet and
interaction with its users (for
example, through custom
toolbars or command bars
and message boxes). User-
created VBA subroutines
execute these actions and
operate like macros generated
using the macro recorder, but
are more flexible and efficient.
From its first version Excel
supported end user
programming of macros
(automation of repetitive
tasks) and user defined
functions (extension of Excel's
built-in function library). In
early versions of Excel these
programs were written in a
macro language whose
statements had formula
syntax and resided in the cells
of special purpose macro
sheets (stored with file
extension .XLM in Windows.)
XLM was the default macro
language for Excel through
Excel 4.0.[23] Beginning with
version 5.0 Excel recorded
macros in VBA by default but
with version 5.0 XLM
recording was still allowed as
an option. After version 5.0
that option was discontinued.
All versions of Excel, including
Excel 2010 are capable of
running an XLM macro,
though Microsoft discourages
their use.[24]
Graph made using Microsoft
Excel supports charts, graphs,
or histograms generated from
specified groups of cells. The
generated graphic component
can either be embedded
within the current sheet, or
added as a separate object.
These displays are dynamically
updated if the content of cells
change. For example, suppose
that the important design
requirements are displayed
visually; then, in response to a
user's change in trial values
for parameters, the curves
describing the design change
shape, and their points of
intersection shift, assisting the
selection of the best design.
Additional features are
available using add-ins.
Several are provided with
Excel, including:
Analysis ToolPak: Provides
data analysis tools for
statistical and engineering
analysis (includes analysis
of variance and regression
Analysis ToolPak VBA: VBA
functions for Analysis
Euro Currency Tools:
Conversion and formatting
for euro currency
Solver Add-In: Tools for
optimization and equation
Data storage and
Number of rows and columns
Versions of Excel up to 7.0
had a limitation in the size of
their data sets of 16K (214 =
16 384) rows. Versions 8.0
through 11.0 could handle
64K (216 = 65 536) rows and
256 columns (28 as label 'IV').
Version 12.0 can handle 1M
(220 = 1 048 576) rows, and
16 384 (214 as label 'XFD')
File formats
Microsoft Excel up until 2007
version used a proprietary
binary file format called Excel
Binary File Format (.XLS) as its
primary format.[27] Excel
2007 uses Office Open XML as
its primary file format, an XML-
based format that followed
after a previous XML-based
format called "XML
Spreadsheet" ("XMLSS"), first
introduced in Excel 2002.[28]
Although supporting and
encouraging the use of new
XML-based formats as
replacements, Excel 2007
remained backwards-
compatible with the
traditional, binary formats. In
addition, most versions of
Microsoft Excel can read CSV,
DBF, SYLK, DIF, and other
legacy formats. Support for
some older file formats was
removed in Excel 2007.[29]
The file formats were mainly
from DOS-based programs.
Binary has created
documentation of the Excel
format.[30] Since then
Microsoft made the Excel
binary format specification
available to freely
XML Spreadsheet
Main article: Microsoft Office
XML formats
The XML Spreadsheet format
introduced in Excel 2002[28]
is a simple, XML based format
missing some more advanced
features like storage of VBA
macros. Though the intended
file extension for this format
is .xml, the program also
correctly handles XML files
with .xls extension. This
feature is widely used by
third-party applications (e.g.
MySQL Query Browser) to offer
"export to Excel" capabilities
without implementing binary
file format. The following
example will be correctly
opened by Excel if saved
either as Book1.xml or

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