Excel Tips and Tricks

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Tips and Tricks for MS Excel including sparklines, formatting, shortcut keys, and flashfill. For more free tips, go to www.codeitmagazine.com. This is a free magazine that provides tips for SAS, SQL, MS Office, VBScript, and MS Visual Studios.


  • Excel Tips & Tricks Christopher Johnson

    This free article is from the free bi-monthly e-Magazine Code-It. It contains tips for MS Office, SAS, SQL, VBScript, and MS Visual Studios. To subscribe, please go to http://www.codeitmagazine.com

    Sparklines Excel is great for tables and graphs, but why not combine the two and save time? Sparklines appeared

    in Excel 2010. By clicking the Insert tab and choosing Line, Column, or Win/Loss in the Sparklines

    secition, and then choosing the range, you can add a simple graph inside a cell, next to your data. This is

    a great way to show trends inside the table itself.

    Sort by Color Why only sort on values? Ever color code your data? If so, you can actually sort on your color coding.

    Hightlight your table, click sort, choose the column that you want to sort by, and rather than leave the

    Sort On field as the default (Values), change it to Cell Color. You can even select the sort order. Click

    OK, and your data is sorted by color.

    Cell Styles Do you often color code your worksheets? Why not use a standard so that they all look the same, look

    professional, and make sense to others? On the home tab, there is a Cell Styles button. A few styles

    that I find very useful are Heading, Calculation, Input, and Explanatory. They allow me to format

    headings, differentiate between constant and formula cells, and format explanations quickly and easily.


    4-Sep-15 600 91 109

    3-Sep-15 617 92 112

    2-Sep-15 606 91 110

    1-Sep-15 602 91 110

    31-Aug-15 628 93 112

    Name Grade

    Mark A

    Steven B

    Ben C

    Suzy A

    Jessica B

  • Find Links Do you ever open a worksheet and find broken links, but have difficulty finding them. There is a very

    easy trick. Links all contain the [ character. Search the entire workbook for the left brace, and it will

    give you every link to an external file.

    Shortcut Keys Have you ever watched someones hands fly across a keyboard in Excel, working faster than you could

    reach for a mouse. I have. There are many useful shortcut keys that can make you more efficient.

    Autofill & Flashfill Most of you have probably seen Autofill by now. If you have data in a cell, click on the click, hover of the

    bottom right-hand corner until the cursor is a +, and drag down, Excel will attempt to find a pattern to

    complete as it fills in your data. This works very well with dates, numbers, or any obvious patterns in a

    single column. Starting with Excel 2013, Excel offers Flashfill, which can find and complete patterns in

    formats and across multiple columns.


    4-Sep-15 600 91 109

    3-Sep-15 617 92 112

    2-Sep-15 606 91 110

    1-Sep-15 602 91 110

    31-Aug-15 628 93 112

    Average 610.6 91.6 110.6

    The data above was downloaded from Google Stocks.

    Keys Function

    Ctrl+Scroll Zoom

    Ctrl+z Undo

    Ctrl+x Cut

    Ctrl+c Copy

    Ctrl+v Paste

    Ctrl+y Redo

    Ctrl+arrow Move Across Table

    Ctrl+Shift+arrow Highlight Table

    Ctrl++ Insert

    Alt+= AutoSum

    esc Stop Process

    F2 Enter Cell at End

    F4 Add $ to Cell References

    Alt+F11 Open Worksheet Code

  • Consider the example below. By only filling in 1/1/2015, Autofill was able to complete the remaining

    dates. Next, we have the unformatted names in the next columns. By completing one example with

    formatting, Excel is able to find the pattern and complete the rest.

    If you click and hover to get the + using the right mouse button and then drag, Excel gives you options of

    how to complete the data.

    Autofill FlashFill

    1/1/2015 johnson chris Chris Johnson

    1/2/2015 smith john John Smith

    1/3/2015 baker jennifer Jennifer Baker

    1/4/2015 tucker michael Michael Tucker

    1/5/2015 wayne leigh Leigh Wayne