Whatever your business or job role, chances are you’ve had to use a spreadsheet at one time or another. Whether it’s preparing profit and loss projections, creating a sales list or updating HR records, spreadsheets are a cornerstone of modern business data management. It’s also likely that you create, update and manage these spreadsheets using the hugely popular Microsoft Excel, a software suite boasting billions of users all over the world.
But for such a popular tool, Excel is often underutilised, particularly by those without adequate training. Although it’s easy to get started with, Excel boasts scores of powerful and often complex features allowing users to complete a wide array of tasks with minimal effort. Most people don’t use many of these features, however, and don’t take advantage of all the software has to offer.
There’s a lot to learn if you really want to excel at Excel, but to get you started here are some quick tips to up your own spreadsheet game:
- Learn some shortcuts
Excel is full of shortcuts that, when added up over a long period, save you a phenomenal amount of time and effort. Whether it’s flash fill (CTRL + E), select all (CTRL + A) or select a new row (SHIFT + SPACE), shortcuts are hugely useful and a massive time saver, and they’ll impress other people in the office too!
- Use the cell handles
You might have noticed the small black box in the corner of selected cells when working on a spreadsheet – these are called Cell Handles. Let’s say you want to apply a formula to multiple cells, or you’re doing basic data entry and need to fill a column with the same information. Instead of typing it out over and over (or even copying and pasting), just type it once, grab the cell handle and drag down the rest of the column. Like magic, Excel will populate the rest of the column for you.
- Use filters
Filters allow you to easily filter a column based on whatever parameter you want, whether it’s sorting alphabetically, numerically, by date, colour or your own custom filter. To add them go to the Data tab and select ‘Filter’. This will add them to the header of each column and allow you to filter each data set as and when you need to.
- Learn to hide rows or columns
Often, you’ll want to take a row or column out of a spreadsheet without deleting it entirely (for example, sending it to someone else who doesn’t need certain data points). You can do this easily with a couple of handy shortcuts. To hide the selected row(s), use CTRL + 9, to hide the selected column(s), use CTRL + 0.