Microsoft Excel was designed to make your life significantly easier, and if used correctly, it absolutely accomplishes that goal! Read below for four easy tips to optimize your Excel experience.
Excel has become a life-saver for those of us who do not excel in math (puns always intended). Excel takes the pressure of math off of the user and instead places it on the system itself. If Excel is used correctly, your calculator should become a relic from the past; from this point forward, take advantage of the wonderful Formulas tab. Use this tab for something as simple as adding all sums by highlighting data and selecting (Alt=), or finding averages (=AVERAGE), to much more difficult equations such as finding the inverse hyperbolic tangent of a number (=ATAN2). Excel formulas are also excellent (see, the puns just won’t stop) for speed—just drag down the equation you created as far down as your data goes to immediately solve all remaining rows. Formulas can be used do almost anything that you can imagine, all it takes is a few minutes spent looking over the options under the Formulas tab.
For every action in Excel there is a short cut. Listed below are a few of my favorites, but I highly recommend this blog by ASAP Utilities and this fabulous video post by Yahoo News.
- Often working in multiple sheets of the same workbook? Toggle back and forth between sheets by pressing the Control button at the same time as the Page Up button. To go backwards, Control and Page Down.
- Moving between different workbooks? Simply select Control and Tab.
- Control at the same time as selecting D will auto-fill the cells with the content that was in the first cell.
- Want to hide a column quickly or clean up data? Select Control and zero from anywhere in the desired column.
Text To Columns
Was data collected differently than you would like? Text to columns will save you time and effort. Under the Data tab, select “text to columns”. If your data is separated with commas and spaces, you will want to choose the option “fixed width”. Select Next. Make sure that the black lines are separating the cell how you would like them separated. If you want an extra divide, click in that space. If you do not want a divide, click the line. Select Next, then Finish. Your data should be nicely formatted. Important note: before altering the column, be sure to add spaces between the original cell and the rest of the data to accommodate the new cells. Example: Shelby A. Parish, IOM in one cell will need new columns added to the right for “A.” “Parish” and “IOM”.
The number one trick that I can end with is to Google. Simply type what you are attempting to do and watch the results come in. Many results will have videos and step-by-step instructions. If you are attempting a new task in Excel that you have never done before, Google searching is your best bet on how to find the best way to accomplish it. An additional resource is Microsoft itself; it has a wonderful blog that is updated often with fun tips and tricks.
Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE says
Great tips and resources Shelby. Can't wait to "find the inverse hyperbolic tangent of a number (=ATAN2)." Thanks!
I totally learned something new! Thanks, Shelby!