Excel: Get Quick Access to Formatting Options Using the Mini Toolbar

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Problem: Why do I have to always go to the top of the window to reach formatting commands? I loved having floating toolbars in Excel 2003. Why did Microsoft get rid of them?

Strategy: Excel now offers one floating toolbar, but it is elusive. Here's how you use it:

  1. Select some text in a chart. Look very closely above and to the right of the selection. Excel draws in a nearly invisible Mini toolbar. (It may not even appear in the printed version of this book.) Look for the Bold icon above the final "œa" in Data in this figure.

  1. The Mini toolbar starts out nearly invisible.
    1. Move the mouse toward the Mini toolbar. The Mini toolbar will become more visible and will be available for use.

  2. Move the mouse toward the toolbar, and it will solidify.

    Gotcha: If you generally select text by dragging the mouse from right to left, you will never see the mini toolbar. I used Excel for months without ever causing it to appear.

    Additional Details: If you move the mouse toward the Mini toolbar and then away, the Mini toolbar will solidify and then disappear. You can keep making it appear and disappear, but if you eventually get a certain number of pixels away from the toolbar, Excel will hide the toolbar until you re-select the data.

    Additional Details: The Mini toolbar will appear often in Word. In order for it to appear in an Excel cell, you have to select only a portion of the characters in the cell. In this case, you will see an abbreviated version of the Mini toolbar.

    You can also cause the Mini toolbar to appear if you select cells and right-click.