Backstage view is a new aspect of Office 2010, which pervades all the applications in the suite, but is particularly useful in Excel 2010. If you look along the Ribbon tabs at the top of the screen, you'll notice the File tab at the extreme left is coloured green, to show it has a different function from the others.
Click it and you're taken to a different style of screen, with what appears to be a single menu running in a column down the left-hand side of the screen. At the top are the most frequently used filing commands for quick access and below are a series of tabs, each of which leads to a screen of further options.
The top tab, labelled Info, offers three buttons: Permissions, Prepare for Sharing and Versions. Permissions covers adding a digital signature to a workbook, encrypting its contents and protecting its structure and contents against changes. You can also make it read-only.
Prepare for Sharing includes Inspect Document, which looks for hidden content, annotations and personal information, Check Accessibility, which checks for potential problems people with disabilities might have reading your workbook, and Check Compatibility, which assesses how compatible it is with earlier versions of Excel. Versions manages different versions of the current workbook.
The Recent tab lists the most recently opened workbooks, removing the previous restriction to just the last four files, and also shows the folders you've loaded from or saved to most recently.
The New tab enables you to create a new workbook and offers access to workbook templates from a variety of sources. Sample templates, personalised templates and the ability to create a template from the current workbook sit along the top line and below that are templates from Office.com. This is the largest source of templates for Excel and includes many, high quality designs which can save a lot of repetitive creative work.
The Print tab lays out all the common printing tasks in an ordered and easily accessible way. The right-hand side of the screen is filled with a large preview pane, where you can scroll through each page of the potential printout to see how the cells fall.
To its left are a series of drop-downs, offering printer selection, collation, page orientation, duplex print, page size, margins and scaling. You can choose to print just the active sheets on a workbook, too, to save paper. There are links to Printer Properties and Page setup, if you need more detailed control.
Sending workbooks around, for distribution or review, is made a lot easier by the Save & Send tab. You can now attach a workbook directly to an email from here, as well as adding a link to it, if it's in a shared location, or convert it to a PDF, XPS or Internet fax. You can also save the document to a Web site or to a SharePoint location. There are quick ways to convert the data into older Excel versions, OpenDocument and even comma-delimited files, to give it the widest compatibility.
Backstage view consolidates many important, but disparate, functions using an easy, workable interface. It combines many separate dialogues into a unified, full-page view, which complements the rest of the ribbon.