Few software packages are quite as ubiquitous as Microsoft’s Office suite, boasting some of the most powerful and versatile applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email.
Office’s spreadsheet solution Excel is particularly popular, offering a surprisingly powerful option for data management and analysis. Despite being used by nearly 3 billion people all over the world, however, the majority of Excel users are unaware of many of the features available within the software. According to a recent report, most Excel users are self-taught, and only use the most basic functions in their spreadsheets.
If you fall into this category of ‘self-taught’, then there are likely to be scores of powerful features you’re not using, many of which could be saving you huge amounts of time and effort. So, to help you get improve your own spreadsheets, here are 3 time-saving tips for Microsoft Excel:
Did you know you can add filters to your spreadsheets that allow you to quickly sort your data by different parameters? Go to the Data tab and select Filter to add them. They will appear on the column headers as small downward-pointing triangles, which you can click on to filter the data in any way you want.
- Conditional Formatting
Excel has a very useful feature that allows you to quickly colour certain sets of data within your spreadsheets, called ‘Conditional Formatting’. Go to the Home tab, select Conditional Formatting and then choose the logic you want to use (for example flagging all numbers below a certain threshold), then hit OK and all applicable cells will be coloured. You can repeat this as many times as you like, and it makes finding certain types of data within your spreadsheets a breeze.
- Flash Fill
Most people spend hours laboriously filling out the same information in spreadsheets, but Excel’s Flash Fill function makes this effort unnecessary. Using CTRL + E, you can ask Excel to fill out the rest of the cells in a column for you, using what you’ve typed in previous cells as a clue on what you want. For example, if you’re putting names from a first name column and a last name column together in a third column, type the first few and then hit CTRL + E. Excel will figure out the logic you’ve been using and fill the rest of the column for you.