Wednesday, August 27, 2014


The Intersect Operator is yet another somewhat obscure, but highly useful Excel tools.  Many of the ways to glean information from Excel tables involve cumbersome formulas that can take an Excel guru a considerable amount of time out of his or her busy day.  The Intersect Operator, is not only Powerful and Versatile, it is also quite Simple to use!

The function of this handy tool is to use the vertical and horizontal ranges in a cross-tab Table or Database, and find the value at the Intersection (ergo, the Intersect Operator…).  The syntax (Special Note: Be sure to use No brackets or commas…) is simply:

= (RangeName1 RangeName2)

For the Ranges, you can use the generic names such as =(C2:C42 A10:K10).  Whereas this gets the job done and may be advantageous in limited circumstances, using Named Ranges is much more effective.

As a reminder, you can very quickly name all of the ranges in your database by selecting all cells (use Ctrl + A), and the click Ctrl + Shift + F3. This will bring up the Create Names dialogue box as shown below.  Just click OK, and Bamm!  Named Ranges!

Once you have your ranges Named, you can then (as with the example below where we are finding the 3rd Quarter Sales for Los Angeles) find a value with the modest function (in Cell E5 in our example):

=(Los_Angeles Quarter3)  Note: Be sure to include the space between the column title and the row title.

There are, of course, other ways of obtaining this information in Excel, but the Intersect Operator is certainly a worthy addition to any Excel user’s tool belt.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Excel Features on iPad

Back in April we talked about the advent of Excel, (along with Word and PowerPoint), on iPad.  For those of us who have become heavily dependent on iPads, this was great news!

As with any software product there is, of course, room for improvement.  Many of us submitted suggestions for Additional Features and Tools for this convenient addition to our Excel capabilities, and as of a few days ago, Microsoft has come out with the new Excel 1.1 for iPad.

So, what is new in Excel for iPads?  Here are some of what I consider to be the Best of the Best:

·        Flick to Select: This is remarkably easy and very handy.  Simply flick a cell’s selection handle in any direction to quickly select all the data in a row or column.  Very cool!

·        Use an External Keyboard:  Although I am not a big fan of using an external keyboard with an iPad, (it is a tablet, after all…), it is sometimes useful to do so.  Now you use the same keys to input data and move around a worksheet just as you would on your PC or Mac.  Good stuff!

·        Send Files as PDFs: You can now send Excel files as PDFs. 

·        More Printing Options: More control over the layout when printing your workbooks is a nice addition.

·        Work with PivotTables: You can now interact with PivotTables that have been created on a PC or Mac.  Great new feature for all of us geeks!

There are some additional new features, but the above are, in my opinion, the most utile.  Excel on iPad is getting More Powerful and Easier to use!  If you have an iPad, give it a try!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Logic Functions can often be an Excel user’s best friend (maybe not their BFF, but a really good friend nonetheless…).  The Major Logic Functions are: AND, IF, IFERROR, and OR.

A brief study of the AND and OR functions is a worthy exercise for any Excel user who never (or seldom) uses these valuable logic functions.

As with most Logic Functions, the AND and OR functions return a TRUE or FALSE result.  When used with other logic functions such as IF or IFERROR, they can be tremendous tools for extracting information from your data. 
Inclusive and Exclusive:
  • ·         As shown in the syntaxes below, the OR function is very Inclusive. If Any of the Conditions are True, then the OR function will return a True result.
  • ·         The AND function, on the other hand is highly Exclusive. If Any of the conditions are False, then the AND function will return a False result (All of the conditions must be True to return a True result).
  • ·         OR function syntax: OR(Condition1, Condition2, Condition3, etc)
  • ·         AND function syntax: AND(Condition1, Condition2, Condition3, etc)
For example, OR(A1>20%,A2>20%,A3>20%) returns TRUE if Any of the cells referenced are over 20%.
In the case of the following, AND(A1>20%,A2>20%,A3>20%) returns TRUE only if All of the cells referenced are over 20%.
It only takes a small bit of imagination to see how these cool functions can be applied to sales, marketing, customer service, or myriad other data-hungry applications.  AND/OR – Why not!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Finding Your Data

It is an obvious fact to any longtime Excel user that we do not always have control on the source of data, nor the format in which it is stored and exported.  There are times when we may receive data from third parties or other sources which are not under our direct management.  Due to this reality, an improved way to Find Your Data is a true boon to any analyst.

Let’s say that you wish to extract the dates from a less-than-ideal set of data.  For example, the Date Field may be mixed with text, spaces, symbols, or some combination.  So, what can you do with this unruly data?  Happily, Excel provides many possible solutions!

One way is to create a special formula that scours the field, and returns the date.  By using the MID, FIND, and DATEVALUE functions, most any irregular data can be handled with ease.  By adding in the IFERROR function, you can also keep your spreadsheet clear of any distracting error messages.

Putting this all together, creates the following formula:  =IFERROR(DATEVALUE(MID(B4,FIND( "/", B4 )-2,10)),"") which, as illustrated in the example below, neatly extracts the dates from the unconventional data contained in Column A:

There are, of course, typically numerous ways to achieve any result in Excel, and this is true in this case.  It is, however, one nifty little way to extract your dates from many types of unorthodox fields of data that you may have to work with in the future.  Try it some time when you need to Find Your Data!