Long term readers of this column know that I have a soft spot for anything written by the lead author of this book. Woody Leonhard is my kind of writer. If something is good he says so and if its bad he does pull his punches. I suspect that his co-authors have had a moderating influence in the preparation of this volume. However a lot of the flavour of Woody's approach shows through.
Excel is an excellent product and well deserves to be a leading commercial application. However like just about all Microsoft applications it comes out of the box in a form that certainly annoys the experienced user and frequently leaves the newcomer completely bewildered. You can use a product like this for years without finding out a tenth of what it is capable of.
This book is not addressed at the newcomer but at experienced users who like to get their work environments arranged to their own preferences. Remember that Microsoft applications come out of the box set up the way that demonstrators like to use them (open file, new file but no close file icon etc.) so it comes as no surprise that the first thing the authors of this book set about is showing you how to produce your own toolbars.
They then continue with other aspects of the package including its Internet capacity and data validation facilities. However I notice the things that are missing. For example though many people love Microsoft's Office Assistant a considerable number hate it. Nowhere do the authors tell you how to remove it or how to limit its invasion of your workspace. I am sure that the younger Woody Leonhard would have devoted a chapter to dealing with this capricious creature. (By the way if you want to remove it permanently you can uninstall it via the add/remove programs facility in Windows 95/NT) On balance this is a good book for the serious user but they should remember that the price of customising a product is that technical help becomes much more difficult. If you are going to get into application customisation it is worth switching on the facility for multiple user profiles in your operating system (see 'password' in control panel).