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Stinley's avatar

Do you have any good Excel tips?

Asked by Stinley (11505points) December 21st, 2015 from iPhone

I love Excel. I’m quite good at using it. Do you have any top tips that are not very well known? Amaze me with your knowledge! For example I wanted to put a new paragraph in my cell. Pressing Return moved me to the next cell. I tried a few things, gave up and wrote the paragraphs in Word then copied them into the cell. Then I thought that there must be a more elegant solution. So a quick google later, I had it. Hold down the Alt key while pressing Return. Nice.

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10 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

You can freeze a first column or row so you can always see it. That way if say the top row has headers like Quantity of Beds, Quantity of Dressers, Quantity of Chairs, etc, you don’t have to remember which column was what or keep scrolling back and forth to make sure you are looking at the right column for the information. It’s very helpful with long documents of data.

If you double click in a cell where you already wrote something you can edit the cell.

You can have a cell automatically grow in height with how much information you type by using the “wrap” function.

There is a way for information from one cell on a page in a workbook to automatically copy into a cell on another page in the same workbook. I use this when information I need to send someone is calculated on one page, but the receiver should not see all the information, just final numbers. I just save and send the single page with limited information as a PDF, and I didn’t have to do much if anything to create that document with limited information.

If you click in the top left corner it highlights the entire document so you can make formatting changes for the entire document in one swoop.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You can plot data and do a regression on it. It will give you an equation that describes the trend. Very useful. There are a lot of good plug-ins too. I use one to run Fourier transforms on raw data. If you have a copy of 95 there is a really cool easter egg the programmers left. Worth loading just to see it

Dutchess_III's avatar

You can link to data in another worksheet, or even another book.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me those are cool, aren’t they. They had a game, kind of like Mario, in 95, but now I forget how you access it. I kept crashing at the chasm.

CWOTUS's avatar

My best tip for Excel would be to sign in to various Excel forums (or fora, for Latin purists)MrExcel is one of my particular favorites – and attempt to answer other users’ questions there. You will amaze yourself at the leaps you make in your own competence by examining and then answering the questions that others pose. It will also expose you to questions that had not previously occurred to you (in the same way that Fluther does), so that you can broaden your understanding and use of this great tool.

But I still recommend that more people learn and use databases for “data” purposes. Excel is great at what it does, but it is not a good database.

srmorgan's avatar

Right now, I am making copious use of pivot tables which are structures you can use to analyze reams of data. For example, I get an end-of-month file with over 100,000 line items.
I have to summarize parts of it to use in journal entries or forecasting and it makes things so easy.
I remember in Lotus 123 years ago filtering data and cutting and pasting it to get subtotals,

With a pivot table you can ‘slice and dice” large volumes of data and with something called pivot chart you can put the various pivot results into charts that change as you change pivot settings.
Really useful stuff

SRM

jaytkay's avatar

Pivot tables are a HUGE revelation the moment you “get it”. Learn pivot tables.

Also, good job on the “alt” key.

A great piece of advice I read over twenty years ago was,

Press “Key” and something happens (whatever key)
Alt-Key does it a little different
Option-Key does it a little different than that
Control-Key does is a little different than that (Command-Key for you Mac OS users)

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Dutchess_III's avatar

We had an Amiga in the 80’s. My son was about a year old. He was sitting on my lap as I was trying to do something on the computer. He started banging on the keyboard and HEY!! Things started happening! That’s how I discovered hot keys. I use them far more than my mouse. For some people watching me, it makes them nervous, especially if they’re afraid of computers to begin with.

Going to play now @jaytkay! While I’m gone, try pressing Alt and the down arrow.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ctrl and ; automatically inserts the date.

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