Striving to Excel

Blog Author: Aaron Smith | January 20th, 2009

Used well, Microsoft Excel can be an extremely useful tool.  It contains a  multitude of goodies; too many to cover in one article!  If you are new to Excel 2007 or wish to delve further into it, check out the Microsoft Office Online tutorials.  These are a great self-paced way to get up to speed.  Point your co-workers or staff members here and reap the productivity gains; after all, the more you know about an application the better you can put it to use.

But we’re not going to let you wander off into the online woods just yet.  Here are a few little things we find cool, funky or just downright useful.

Filters

Auto Filters turn a simple list or table into an easy source of information.  To turn on your filter, place your cursor on a cell in the table header, go to the Data tab on the ribbon and select Filter.  This will allow you to very quickly group and view information based on what you choose to filter in or out of the list.  Unlike sorting, filtering does not rearrange a range. Filtering temporarily hides rows you do not want displayed.

PivotTables & Charts

Creating a PivotTable will give you even greater flexibility in filtering and displaying the data held in complex lists and tables, so that you can quickly read and analyse the information contained within them.  Rather than scrolling through multitudes of rows and columns, PivotTables will sort, group, filter and tally for you.  Charts on the other hand display information in graphical format to help you explore the relationships between data.

Goal Seek

This handy feature allows you tell a formula what you want the answer to be and makes Excel work out the variables required to get it.  Goal Seek works by adjusting the figures within your formula to provide the desired outcome.

Fill Handle

Instead of manually  typing sequences, type the first few values of the sequence (eg serial numbers, dates, counters) and select those cells.   Now examine the bottom cell of your selected range; see the little black square at the lower right corner?  That’s the Fill handle.  Drag it in the desired direction to automatically fill adjacent cells.

Comments

Right clicking on a cell will (among other things) enable you to insert a comment.  This can be a useful way of including instructions or information that otherwise does not fit into the column or row headings and would clutter your table if you tried.  To add a little flair to the comments you can change their shape or even add pictures.   Formatting comments is more fun than functional, but can certainly make your spreadsheet entertaining to create and read!

If you haven’t upgraded to Microsoft Excel 2007 and would like to discuss doing so, contact us to explore your options.

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