Definition of Icon in Microsoft Excel

Written by julie davoren Google
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Definition of Icon in Microsoft Excel
Click a graphic to complete a Microsoft Excel task. (American dollar image by Photosani from

According to the Microsoft Developer Network, Microsoft Excel icons are pictorial representations of objects and are shorthand for completing tasks in Microsoft Excel. Microsoft Excel icons allow you to quickly open or close a file, access and modify your data and even e-mail or fax your spreadsheet. Popular Microsoft Excel icons are displayed at the top of your spreadsheet, but you may choose to add icons you use frequently.


Microsoft Excel icons lets you quickly manipulate excel data and format your spreadsheets. Click on a Microsoft Excel icon and Microsoft Excel completes a task or displays further options for completing the task. Some icons are general icons and are applicable to any application in the Microsoft Office suite, while other icons are associated to Microsoft Excel only. Icons associated only to Microsoft Excel include icons found on the "Formulas" and "Data" tabs and include shortcuts for tasks such as "Group," "Ungroup," "Name Manager" and "Evaluate Formula."


Microsoft Excel icons save the trouble of memorising keyboard combinations to complete tasks. For example, to format numbers using keyboard combinations, you would need to press the "CTRL" key with several other keys. displays the keyboard shortcut to format a number as a per cent as "CTRL +%." To complete this combination, you press the "CTRL", "SHIFT" and "%" keys. Rather than remember key combinations, press the Microsoft Excel icon that displays the per cent sign.


There are Microsoft Excel icons for every task in Microsoft Excel. The type of icon depends on the type of task the icon completes. For example, icons on the Data tab in the "Data Tools" group allow you to remove duplicated data, validate and consolidate data, move data from one column to another and perform "What If Analysis." The Visual Basic icon allows you to launch visual basic, and the Macro icon launches the macros window where you can run, create or edit macros. The Visual Basic icon and the Macro icon are located in the Code group on the "Developer" tab.

Special Feature

In Microsoft Excel 2007, Microsoft introduced icon sets. Included with Conditional Formatting in the Styles group on the Home tab, Icon sets allow you to visually compare cells to each other by placing pre-determined graphics in a range of cells. Icon sets are available in sets of three, four and five depending on the type of set. You may modify when each graphic displays by adding "New Formatting Rules" to the icon set.

Excel 2010 Improvements

On Microsoft Excel product team's official blog, Program Manager Amy Velingkar explains that the Microsoft Excel 2010 release gives users the ability to customise icon set arrangements and the ability to apply only a single icon to cells that meet certain criteria. These new improvements add visual clarity to conditional formatting. This means that you will now have more flexibility in adding meaning to icon sets.

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