One of the really great things about Microsoft Office 2013 is that you can extend the functionality of the various Office applications by running apps within the applications. These apps are available through the Microsoft Office Apps store. This article lists five handy apps for Excel.

Note: This articles is also available as a photo gallery.

1: Bing Maps

Bing Maps (Figure A) allows business data to be mapped within a spreadsheet. After selecting a data range, you can plot the data on a map. By default, the data is displayed as a series of pie charts, but the map is fully customizable. You also have the ability to click on any of the pie charts appearing on the map to display the underlying business data for that location.

Figure A

2: PayPal Invoicing

PayPal Invoicing (Figure B) is a free invoicing app for Excel. It requires you to download PayPal’s invoicing workbook, which is also free. After doing so, you can populate the workbook with all the information you would normally include on an invoice.

Figure B

Although there are countless invoicing applications in existence, the PayPal Invoicing App has one feature that sets it apart from many of the others. When you create an invoice, it contains a pay button. Your customers can click the button to pay the invoice, even if they don’t have a PayPal account.

3: ToDo

ToDo (Figure C) enables you to build a to-do list inside Excel. This is admittedly a simple app, but there are two things I really like about it. First, it displays the to-do list alongside a spreadsheet. That way, if you work in Excel all day long, you can access your list without leaving excel. The other thing I like about this app is that it is easy to use. There is no guesswork and no learning curve.

Figure C

4: People Graph

People Graph (Figure D) is a Microsoft app that’s designed to spice up Excel’s normal charting capabilities. Rather than displaying standard bar charts, People Graph displays icons that better convey business data that’s related to people (such as the number of people who purchase a product).

Figure D

Although People Graph’s primary focus is people, it offers a number of other icons, including moneybags, clocks, hearts, stars, diamonds, and even a cat.

5: Gauge

Gauge (Figure E) lets you create gauge charts within an Excel spreadsheet. What’s a gauge chart? It’s a chart that displays business data in a format similar to a car speedometer.

Figure E

Gauge is a great tool for business intelligence. If you have a particular cell (or range) that reflects a key performance indicator, you can insert a gauge as a way of visualizing the state of that indicator. The app allows you to define green, yellow, and red threshold values to make it easy to see whether the reflected value falls within the desired margin.