Microsoft Excel is one of the most useful products in the Microsoft office suite. You will find many professionals singing its accolades, while new users complain about how unintuitive it can be. Excel can be a very frustrating software to use if you only have the basic knowledge about it. The key to mastering excel is understanding its capabilities and using the best practices or accomplishing your task. Here are 6 tips which will teach you how to properly use Excel and become even more productive than before.
If an Excel pro sees a new Excel user navigate the spreadsheet using the mouse and the scroll bar it makes them twitch. Excel, at its core, is essential business software that helps businesses manage data. There are lots of shortcuts which make using Excel faster and easier. There is also another huge advantage to shortcuts – there are a lot less mistakes and frustrations. Often, while navigating through arrow keys or the mouse, you end up selecting the wrong cell or piece of data. Learn the shortcuts related to tasks that you most often perform in Excel, and your productivity will increase by a large margin.
There is nothing worse than a spreadsheet that does not make sense. Ask any programmer and they will tell you that it is almost impossible to debug old code unless there are proper comments explaining the code. Most software companies make it a requirement for coders to insert comments between the coding. The same thing needs to be done for Excel as well, especially when it comes to complicated spreadsheets with thousands of rows and columns. Comments don’t just help other people, they help you navigate old spreadsheets you may not remember much about.
Quick Formatting Data
One of the main reasons that many offices use Excel is to generate reports. In reports trends and patterns are very important. Things have gotten much better with the latest version of excel. Select a group of cells and you will notice an icon pop up in the bottom right side of your screen. Click this icon and your data will be formatted and color coded according to the trends and patterns detected by Excel. It is a very useful feature and allows you to do in one click what may have taken several minutes previously.
Macros aren’t for everyone – they are snippets of Visual Basic codes that run on spreadsheets. If your company requires you to use Excel on large sheets and perform complicated operations, you need to start using macros. A macro can do with one click what may otherwise take hours of work. You will have trouble at the beginning if you have no coding experience but a month or so of training will allow you to work better than ever before. If your Excel usage is for the long term, it is absolutely essential to learn macros and what you can do with them. You can start out by trying out the many macros available on the internet to see the true power of Excel. Do not run any unverified macros as they can completely change, transmit data, or corrupt your sheets if programmed to do so. Make sure you use macros on test sheets only, and that your macros are from a trusted source.
Flash Fill may just as well be magic. We first noticed what was happening when we needed to extract names from email addresses. Most of the email addresses were in the email@example.com format. We could have gone with a macro but we started the work manually to see how long it would take. After a few minutes of work Excel began to automatically separate the first names and last names. It would fill as much of the spreadsheet as it can. Flash fill works automatically – once Excel figures out what you are trying to do it gives you an icon.
You can define your own formulas and make your work ten times easier. Go to the formulas tab and click on define. This gives you the option of creating your own formula/constant and giving it a nickname. The next time you need to invoke the same value you can simply write its name. The best part is that you can change the value in the future and have the new value come in effect on your spreadsheet. So, for example, you can set interest rates and assign them a constant value. If the interest rate changes you simply have to change it through the formulas tab and it will take effect on your whole sheet.
Remember, Excel is much more powerful than you can imagine. People have coded whole applications on Excel. We would recommend all business users to try to learn a bit of excel in-depth; it is a very useful skill in all job roles.