Whether you need to use Microsoft Excel for a few basic purposes or you're interested in the tips and tricks that will make you a Microsoft Excel pro, try some of these great tips.
Using Microsoft Excel is a great way to organize spreadsheets and present information. At first glance, however, it may appear to be a complex program with way too many options for your specific needs. Whether you need to use Microsoft Excel for a few basic purposes or you’re interested in the tips and tricks that will make you a Microsoft Excel pro, try some of these great tips.
1. Use a unique sheet for each dataset.
Microsoft Excel allows you to customize your workbook design and put your data in a format that works for you. Some users choose to use a single workbook in an effort to keep all of their data in one place. The reality, however, is that using the same sheet for all of your datasets can lead to cluttered, difficult to manage data and make it a challenge for you to find the specific dataset you really need. Instead, use a unique sheet for each set of data so that you can easily refer back to it when needed.
2. Assign an intuitive naming system.
Develop a naming system that makes it easy for you to keep up with where all of your data is and what you’re doing with it. You may want to assign specific version numbers or use a predetermined system based on client names or the names of the types of data you need to use. Always label versions clearly so that you know you’re working with the latest version of your system.
3. Have a backup system in place.
We’re far from the days when you had to manually save backups on a physical disc and make sure that you stored them separately from your physical location. You do, however, still need a highly effective backup system in place–one that is designed to help you get your data back if something happens to your environment. Do not rely on Microsoft’s backup solutions, which could leave you scrambling to recover your data in the event of a disaster. Instead, make sure you have a backup solution that will keep your data in a secure location and allow you to easily restore your Microsoft Excel data if needed.
4. Learn the major shortcut keys.
Constantly having to lift your hands for the keyboard and search for the option that you need can sap time and resources, making it difficult for you to get your data entered and move forward with your day. Memorize the major shortcut keys, including:
Microsoft Excel also uses the same basic keyboard commands that you would use in Word and other platforms: for example, Cntrl +B will bold the selection, Cntrl + I will italicize it, and Cntrl +K will allow you to insert a link. Make a list of the keyboard shortcuts that you use most often and post them somewhere highly visible until you memorize them to make it easier to keep the flow of your work moving no matter what tasks you need to take care of.
5. Learn how to use Excel formulas effectively.
You may need to custom-create your own Excel formulas or select from a library of pre-created formulas used by others to help you accomplish your goals. Get familiar with those formulas and the functions they serve. You can easily calculate sum, “if,” percentage, subtraction, multiplication, division, the date, count, averages, and randomized numbers all from existing Excel formulas–which can streamline your overall performance and make it easier for you to put your worksheets together.
6. Use Pivot Tables to help you make sense of your data.
Pivot tables can sum up values and compare the information you’ve put into your spreadsheet, allowing you to get a better look at what you have. Go to Data, then Pivot Table. Choose the options you want to use based on the type of data you want to see. For example, “Report Filter” will filter the rows that actively show in your data set, while Colum and Row labels will allow you to choose what you want to show. Value will allow you to manipulate the data in your table so that you can view it differently.
7. Filter data to help you simplify it.
Sometimes, you may need to break down your data into simpler subsets to get a better look at it. Add a filter by clicking the “Data” tab, then selecting the “Filter” option. By selecting a specific filter, you can see the other information disappear from your table–and give you a better look at the specific factors or information you want to take a look at.
8. Remove duplicates with care.
Sometimes, you may want to make sure that you have not inadvertently put a single piece of information into your table more than once. Larger data sets may have multiple duplicate pieces of information. Highlight the row or column that you want to remove duplicates of, then go to “Data” and select “Remove Duplicates.”
Note, however, that you should exercise care when removing duplicates. Sometimes, those duplicates may exist for a reason–and you don’t want to throw your data off by removing the wrong information from your tables.
Learning how to use Microsoft Excel like a pro takes time. With these tips and strategies, however, you can make the most out of your data collection and research, allowing you to get a better idea of what you’ve input into your tables. Want to learn more about how Microsoft Excel and other platforms can help enhance your work environment? Contact us today.