Thankfully, I don’t have cause to use Microsoft Excel much. My kids can produce pretty charts about the demographics of pet ownership in the classroom better and quicker than I can.

Excel is a very powerful product but the sheer size and complexity of the software is just overwhelming which makes it difficult (for novices) to accomplish straightforward tasks.

For example, people are kind enough to send me gargantuan, complex spreadsheets where I want to freeze the header row while scrolling data down to the sole point of interest on row 23,538. A seemingly simple task.

Microsoft Excel

Exhaustively search all Menu options. Look in online help. Ask that irritating paperclip wizard: ‘So what is it you are trying to do, you idiot ?’. Try some random control key combinations. Plaintively ask for the data in Oracle DMP format.

Slump over the keyboard, weeping in despair, randomly striking keys which unexpectedly reveals a buried Easter Egg (a fully fledged Doom clone). No wonder Excel is so bloated. Search the Microsoft Web site. Search using Google.

Finally, admit defeat and sheepishly ask a (Microsoft Certified) colleague who sneers ‘God - don’t you even know that ? Place the cursor on the row you want to lock. Hit Windows-Freeze Panes. There you go. Oh no - sorry - you place the cursor on the first row you want to scroll normally.’

Google Spreadsheets

Sort - Fix Header Rows - Freeze 1 row. Screen updated to reflect user action (1 row frozen). Done.

Sometimes, less is more.