Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three Cool Tricks!

Here are three of my favorite little tricks for making life easier in Excel World…

#1 Selecting Data or the Entire Worksheet
Select any cell in your database and click “A” on your keyboard while holding down the Ctrl key; Bamm! You have selected the database. Want to select the entire worksheet? Just click “A” once again!

#2 Copy the Formatting of a Cell or Range and Apply it to Another Cell or Range
Select the cell or range with the formatting you wish to copy, (Note: This works for conditional formatting as well), and click the Paint Brush on your toolbar. Your cursor will then turn into a paint brush that you can use to “paint” any other cell or range with the formatting you have picked up from the previous cell or range (think of them as the paint can).

#3 Display Formulas So You can Troubleshoot Issues
This is so easy, you will laugh. Select any cell on cell on your worksheet and simply press the “~” key on your keyboard while holding down the Ctrl key. Presto! All of your formulas will be visible!

How cool is that! Take five minutes and give the tricks a try!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life Beyond Microsoft

This blog is entitled Excel Enthusiasts, but let’s face it; there are other spreadsheet applications out there worth looking at.

Perhaps the most interesting is the Numbers application in the iWork suite by Apple. Numbers has over 250 functions, (comparable to Excel), including some unique ways to calculate time that you do not see in other applications. There are many terrific templates and, typical of Apple’s penchant for graphics, creating gorgeous charts is a breeze.

Since most of the computing world speaks Excel, it would be a drag if Numbers was not compatible with our favorite software. Happily, you can save and export your files in an Excel format, as well as in PDF and several other common formats. You can also share your work by uploading it to a new private iWork website that Apple has made available (you can send a special URL to anyone you wish to collaborate with).

Another late-breaking Numbers feature is that it will be available on the new Apple iPad (arriving April 3) in a new format that will allow you to use in a finger-friendly interface, (yes, I have mine on order…).

Now, is this Apple product truly cooler than our favorite tool, Excel? Probably not, but it does have some intriguing features you might be interesting in. Happy exploring!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Unique Names for a DropDown List

Getting a list of Unique Names for a DropDown Box is easy. As we discussed in the February 18 post, DropDown Boxes can be a real boon for a professional-looking report.

In order to obtain a list of Unique Names just do the following easy steps:

1) Select the original range of names (See column 'B' All Names).

2) Go to Advance Filter, and choose “Copy to another location” action.

3) In the "Copy to" box, select a cell for the starting point.

4) Check the checkbox for "Unique records only" and click OK.

Presto! A list of Unique Names to use for your DropDown Box!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pivot Tables: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

This is an introduction to an often disregarded Excel application. Much has been written on Pivot Tables, and much has also been misunderstood about this highly practical, but not perfect tool.

The Good
Every analyst or manager should have at least moderate skills at using pivot tables. You can use pivot tables to summarize, analyze, and explore what-ifs in your data. What is particularly “Good” about them is they are very powerful, lightning fast, and very easy to use. If you have never experimented with Pivot Tables, give them a try. I can guarantee that you will amaze yourself with how simple it is to manipulate your data.

The Bad
Pivot tables are not all things for all applications. Though powerful, they have some odd quirks, (such as resizing your columns when you change an entry), and often need to be rebuilt if your data significantly changes (the good news is, of course, that it is easy do so…).

The Ugly
Let’s face it, pivot tables are Ugly! Oh, sure, you can apply one of the stock formatting schemes that haven’t changed in ten years, or design your own, (beware, it may be lost when you update or pivot data), but it is still ugly. Now, this may not be terribly important to you if you are just doing some “quick and dirty” analysis, but it may not be something you want to show the board of directors.

Bottom Line
Though not perfect tool, pivot tables will often save you many hours of analysis time, and the other great news is that it truly is easy. Go on, give it a try!