Six more reasons to master Excel…
Spot trends with conditional formatting and sparklines
For many people (perhaps including you!) a spreadsheet can be pretty intimidating – a sea of figures and data which looks hideously difficult to interpret.
Conditional formatting can change that – in seconds – because it allows you to highlight any cells in an Excel table that match a particular condition.
That ‘condition’ can be pretty much anything you need it to be – a duplicate value, a value above or below a given target level, or a value that matches a formula you’ve written for the job.
Sparklines add an extra visual dimension. They instantly convert a series of numbers into a miniature graph – and can even do it for multiple rows or columns.
Together both tools are a great way to turn a screen full of numbers into something that tells people what you really want them to know. Quickly, and effectively.
Sort and filter data to find the answers you need
The larger a spreadsheet grows, the harder it can be to find the data you need. Or to interpret it sensibly.
Sorting and filtering help you get the information you want – in the order you need. If you’re just interested in this month’s transactions, it takes just a few seconds to filter out the rest. And if you have a contact base in the thousands, but just need an alphabetical list of the people in one specific organisation – no problem. Filter out the others and then sort the entries you want in the order you want – by surname or first name, for example.
Customise Excel to match how you work
Like other Microsoft programs, Excel has more functionality than you – personally – are ever likely to need. So it makes perfect sense to customise your work area in the program to suit your own particular needs.
If there’s one tab – or one set of commands – that you use more often than the rest, then you can change their position and their order. That way they’ll always be where you need them to be. (At least until you want them somewhere else!).
Is the ribbon taking up space you need for your work? Then you can hide it until you do need it.
Don’t like Excel’s background colour? Then you can change it.
And if you don’t like the standard Excel template (the one that appears every time you open a new document) then help is at hand. You can change it. And create exactly what you want to replace it…
Use Excel’s IF functions with ease
Using logic is the best way to get Excel working harder for you – and the IF function is a great place to start, because it’s the kind of logic we all use every day – as in the sentence ‘IF it’s raining THEN take an umbrella or ELSE don’t (and get wet…!)
It’s also the kind of logic you can use in a spreadsheet to see what happens if certain conditions are – or are not – met. (For example, to see what happens if your team can’t meet the sales targets you want to set them.)
That, of course, is just the beginning, because there is a whole set of logical formulas you can apply to interpret and make sense of your data. Book onto our bite-size master Excel workshops to learn the ins and outs of logical formulas like IF Statements.
Make sense of your complex data with PivotTables
Have you come across Pivot Tables? If not, then – to be honest – it’s difficult to explain, because there are many things they can do. But among those many things you’ll find that they can automatically sort, count, total or average the data in a table or a spreadsheet, and then display the summary in a separate table showing the results.
Better yet, you can use that summarised data to create a pivot chart. A visual tool for those people who are allergic to pages full of figures.
Master Excel macros and automate all your repetitive tasks
If there are some long and tedious jobs that you’re doing over and over again in Excel, then salvation is at hand. Because if you’re doing it all the time, you can record it as a macro. And then do it with a single mouse click. As often as you want.
Macros are the better, faster way you’ve always dreamed of for handling repetitive tasks. We’ll be delighted to show you exactly how to record them. And then work smarter rather than harder…
Like to know more? Give us a call on 0345 11 88 150 or drop us an email to arrange a free consultation. No charge, no obligation.