Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shooting Blanks!

Well, maybe this edition of this blog should be entitled, “Shooting Down Blanks!  The truth is that it is Not Always Easy to know whether a cell or cells in Excel are Truly Blank!

This is due to the fact there are ways of Hiding Data through the use of identically-colored fonts, empty-string results of a formula, or masking the data with the use of Custom Formatting (three semicolons: ;;; ).  If you don’t know if a cell is Truly Blank, it can cause Mayhem with your calculations.

To detect this Invisible Data, there are at least a couple of techniques.  Assuming your cell in question is A1, you can:

1.      Simply insert this Function in an adjacent cell:  =ISBLANK(A1) 

a.       If the cell is Blank, it will return True; if it is Not Blank, it will return False

2.      Also use an IF Statement as follows:  =IF(A1<>"","Not Blank", "Blank")

a.       This IF Statement obviously returns Blank or Not Blank

By determining if your cells are Truly Blank, you can Avoid Problems on your worksheets, and I don’t know about you, but I think Avoiding Problems, Rocks!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Data Entry Form for Adding Records

If you or someone you work with frequently adds records to databases or tables, you should definitely give the Data Form Tool a try.  For anyone who routinely enters data, it can make your life a bit easier. 

How to Add the Form to Your Workbook for Excel 2007 & 2010 Users:

1.      Click the down-arrow of the Quick Access Toolbar in the upper-left corner of your workbook

2.      Choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar

3.      Select All Commands and choose Form…

4.      Click the Add>> button and click OK

Now go to your database or table and select the Form from your Quick Access Toolbar.  Suddenly…  Bam!  Up pops a New Data Entry Form for updating your database!

Just tab through the Form as you enter your data, and watch your table or database update as you do.  Wow, what a Great Little Tool!  Give it a try!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Enhance Your Charts

Aesthetics seems to be a dirty word in some tech circles. Upon closer examination, however, it is apparent that making things “Look Good” definitely has its place in Excel as well as technology in general.  Why is that important?  Well, just take a look at products by Apple.  Sure, they do a good job, but they also look good, and are therefore add sensory appeal for the user.

When it comes to Charts, Excel 2007 (and Excel 2010) gave you much more control over how your work Looks!

Excel 2007 ushered in the Ribbon, which is clearly a great advantage to anyone making Charts.  Double-clicking on your chart will pull up the Design Ribbon, giving you several ways to improve the appearance of visually-displayed data.  Among the possibilities that are readily are the following Options for you on this ribbon:

1.      Change the Chart Type (easy access to all major types)

2.      Chart Layouts (5 different ways to display titles, labels, legends, etc)

3.      Chart Styles (a sizeable variety of color and 3-D options)

You can also go to the Format tab and find a myriad of ways to further Customize the look of your chart with:

1.      Bevels

2.      Soft Edges

3.      Shadows

4.      Much More

So, once again, why is this important?  Please consider this:  If your audience is going to Understand the Message your chart is conveying, they are going to need to Like it First!  As in all good communication:

1.      Engage Your Audience

2.      Convey Your Message


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Duplicate Data

Duplicate Data can be an annoying issue when working in Excel.  Although it is desirable to use the tools of Excel to simply delete all duplicate data, there are times when it is more advisable to clearly identify these values prior to eliminating them.

For instance, let's say you are working with blended human resources data that lists employees with their home addresses.  If the information in the blended data includes duplicates of employees who have had updates , and shows different addresses for these duplicates, it would be good to have a simple way of doing identifying them before taking action.

Solution?  Conditional Formatting to the Rescue! 

Here is How to do this:

1.  Select the range (e.g. A1:A65).
2.  Choose Format / Conditional Formatting to display the CF dialog box
3.  Select Formula Is from the first drop-down list box, and enter =COUNTIF($A$1:$A$65,A1)>1 in the second box
4.  Click the Format button to bring up the Format Cells dialog box.
5.  Select the Patterns tab, and choose a background color
6.  Click OK twice to return to your worksheet
Alacazam!  If the range contains any duplicate entries, they will be highlighted with the background color you chose previously, providing you with Easy Identification of any Duplicate Data. 
How Cool is that!
So, what are you waiting for?  Give it a try!