Excel Tips Tricks - Tips Tricks Top 10 tips and tricks to become more efficient and save time Leila Gharani, MA Consultant Trainer Hyperion Financial Management

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  • Excel Tips & Tricks Top 10 tips and tricks to become more

    efficient and save time

    Leila Gharani, MA Consultant & Trainer

    Hyperion Financial Management

    Microsoft Excel

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Table of Contents

    TIP #1: BE AWARE OF THE NEW FEATURES ......................................... 2

    TIP #2: MASTER THE SIMPLER TASKS.................................................. 4

    TIP #3: GO BEYOND THE VLOOKUP .................................................... 6

    TIP #4: LEARN NEW FUNCTIONS ........................................................ 8

    TIP #5: SPEED UP EXCEL ................................................................... 10


    TIP #7: EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS .................................................... 13

    TIP #8: CREATE A DASHBOARD ........................................................ 14

    TIP #9: KNOW THE POSSIBILITIES ..................................................... 16

    TIP #10: IMPLEMENT A WORKSHOP ................................................. 18

    EXCEL TRAINING & CONSULTING ..................................................... 19

    ABOUT LEILA GHARANI ................................................................... 20

    Note: Footnotes contain equivalent names of German functions

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Tip #1: Be Aware of the New


    When Microsoft introduced Excel 2007 they introduced new features,

    improved functionalities and interface, but many people still use it the

    way the used the old Excel. There is much benefit that can be gained

    from these new features. They can help you do your analysis faster by

    using one of the new formulas or functions introduced. They can help

    you create a cleaner and easier to understand file. All in all, they can

    help you become more efficient in your work and as a result save time

    down the road.

    More obvious changes

    If youre currently working with Excel 2007 or above, youve probably

    noted the more obvious changes. These are:

    New user interface

    New file format which creates smaller files as compared with

    older versions

    More rows and columns to build more capable worksheets:

    Excel supports over 1 m. rows and 16 k. columns

    Memory management increased

    Improvements in presentation, reporting and the look of charts

    New themes and styles to harmonize reporting books

    Easy formula writing using formula auto complete

    Better printing experience and ability to save files as PDF

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Less obvious changes

    Some additional features might have gone unnoticed. Below is a

    glimpse of the main updates:

    New functions: I am quite certain anyone using Excel for any

    type of data analysis would highly benefit from these new

    formulas. These are SUMIFS, COUNTIFS & AVERAGEIFS1

    which allow calculations matching multiple criteria (unlike the old

    SUMIF without the S) In addition the IFERROR2 formula is

    much easier to write than the old If(ISERROR(),,,) formula.

    Rich conditional formatting: Excel users employ conditional

    formatting to make their data stand out for presentations,

    dashboards and analysis. The prior versions of Excel were

    restricted to a maximum of three conditions. From Excel 2007

    and above, you can use as many rules as required. You can

    also apply several rules to a single cell and stop evaluating rules

    after a condition has applied. New data formats are also

    available such as data bars, colour gradients and icon sets.

    Turn your data range into a table (CTRL + T): This feature

    was highly improved upon in Excel 2007. To name a few

    advantages: it lets you automatically update your charts or

    validation lists once you add new data (no need to manually

    adjust or use OFFSET formulas). It also lets you use structured

    referencing, meaning your formulas update automatically once

    you add new data to your rows.

    And more improvements: Additional enhancements in terms of

    sorting and filtering, shared charting, simpler pivot tables and

    easier connections to external data have also been introduced.


    2 WENNFEHLER more efficient than ISTFEHLER

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Tip #2: Master the Simpler Tasks

    There are a handful of the more commonly used tools that can help

    working with Excel easier. Some might already be obvious to you and

    some new. One main advantage of the newer Excel versions is that

    some very useful features became easier to access. They are now just a

    mouse click away. Previously you had to go through one menu and then

    sometimes another, to be able to find the feature you needed.

    Customize Excel

    In Excel 2007 & above, you can customize the Quick Access Toolbar to

    include the buttons and commands you use on a frequent basis. This

    toolbar acts as your favourites and allows you to group together your

    most used Excel buttons. This saves time as you dont need to switch

    between the different ribbon tabs to locate the buttons you need.

    From Excel 2010 onwards you can also customize the Ribbon by adding

    your own tab and including in that tab all the functions and features you

    commonly use.

    Use Groups to hide without hiding

    Groups are available in the Data tab in the Outline Section. They allow

    you to group rows and columns together so that they can be hidden from

    view. It is suggested to generally group cells instead of using the hide

    cells feature. The advantages are:

    Visibility: The + and signs signal whether there are any

    hidden rows or columns.

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Multiple levels: With groupings, you can have multiple levels of

    hierarchies which is not possible if you were hiding rows or

    columns. The nested groups allow the users to have subtotals

    within groups and then drill-downs to a more detailed level.

    Excel currently supports up to 8 nested groups.

    Navigating large workbooks

    When you work with workbooks that contain many tabs you will find

    yourself spending a lot of time scrolling left and right to see the one you

    need. It makes it easier to right-mouse click on the little scroll bar

    arrows at the bottom left-hand corner of your workbook. The right-mouse

    click brings up the list of all the tabs in the workbook allowing you to

    quickly jump to your selected tab.

    And many more

    Other more commonly used tools that can make working with Excel

    easier are features such as removing of duplicates, introducing

    validations, freezing panes, working simultaneously in different windows

    or tabs, inspecting workbooks, protecting them, creating templates and

    utilizing the potential of custom number formatting. There is always

    some useful feature in hiding.

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Tip #3: Go Beyond the VLOOKUP

    The VLOOKUP3 function is one of the most used more complex Excel

    formulas, because it can search a list or a table in the left-most column

    and return the respective value from one of the adjacent columns.

    HLOOKUP works exactly in the same way except that it works

    horizontally rather than vertically.

    Advanced users generally avoid VLOOKUP because of its limitations

    VLOOKUP cannot go LEFT: The value that you need to look

    up must always be on the first column on the left and the values

    to return must be on the right hand side

    Two way look up not possible: You cannot VLOOKUP on the

    columns and the rows to find an exact match

    The INDEX and MATCH4 formula is superior to the VLOOKUP on many


    It can look to the left or the right. Unlike VLOOKUP which can

    only go right, INDEX and MATCH can look in any direction

    You can do a two-way lookup by looking along the row and

    along the column in a matrix to find the intersection

    At its worst it is slightly faster than VLOOKUP and at its best it is


    Note that INDEX and MATCH is not one function but two functions

    written in one formula. Each function alone is not very useful but

    together they are very powerful.

    The INDEX part returns a value based on the specification of how many

    rows to go down and how many columns to go right. The MATCH part



  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    finds the look up values row index or column index and passes this

    along to the INDEX function. Sounds complicated? Its actually quite

    easy in practice.

    All in all if you master the INDEX and MATCH formula be sure that you

    will simplify your data analysis and reporting. There are many varieties

    and uses of this formula. Below is an example of a more complex matrix

    lookup where you need to dynamically move down rows, and also

    across the columns. This requires a double match.

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Tip #4: Learn New Functions

    Using the right functions for the task at hand saves time and headaches

    down the road. There are many useful functions in Excel that are

    extremely practical when doing data analysis.

    Its not so important to know all the formulas by heart. Its enough that

    you are aware of the possibilities and that a certain task could be solved

    faster, better, or more efficiently using a given formula or feature.

    Below is a list of some very useful functions for data analysis and


    SUMIFS, COUNTIFS and AVERAGEIFS functions. These were

    introduced with Excel 2007. The addition of the S allows for

    more criteria to be checked. The traditional SUMIF and

    COUNTIF functions allowed only 1 condition whereas the new

    functions allow up to 127 criteria. For example you can sum the

    values in Column C if the values in Column A and Column B

    meet a certain criteria you can set up to 127 criteria.

    Text formulas such as LEN, LEFT, RIGHT, SEARCH, UPPER,

    LOWER and PROPER5 are quite useful when you need to

    manipulate descriptions, names etc.

    Date functions such as WEEKDAY, WORKDAY and

    NETWORKDAYS6 can be really helpful when planning your

    project deadlines or reporting timetable.

    MAX, MIN, LARGE and SMALL7 functions help find the largest,

    smallest or the nth largest or smallest value. These are practical



  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    functions for ranking. For example finding the product that

    generated the 3rd

    highest sales, or the company that had the 5th

    highest profit.

    OFFSET8 is a very useful function especially when designing

    dashboards and flexible reports, as it returns the value or values

    in a range by moving from a given starting point.

    RANK9 function returns the rank of the number in relation to a

    list of numbers. You can use the RANK function together with

    INDEX and MATCH or the OFFSET function to dynamically rank

    companies based on their results or products according to their

    sales value.


    function is a formula that can work on arrays.

    The most common use of it is to get the sum of products in one

    formula by skipping intermediary steps. However this function is

    much more powerful than that because it can be used in non-

    obvious ways. You can actually use this function to do what

    INDEX and MATCH can do, what the SUMIFS functions can do

    and even what the COUNT function can achieve.



    9 RANG


  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Tip #5: Speed up Excel

    Excel 2007 & above allows you to manage and create bigger and more

    complex spreadsheets than what was possible before. It also came with

    improvements in terms of speed. It does not however, stop a user from

    creating poorly designed spreadsheets by not utilizing the most efficient

    function for their calculations which in turn could result in slow-

    calculating files and thus frustrated users. By utilizing some

    straightforward techniques and understanding how Excel works with

    functions, you can significantly improve any slow-calculating workbook.

    The design of your Excel spreadsheet is key in defining how efficient

    and fast your workbook runs calculations. What makes spreadsheets

    slow is not the number of formulas or the size of your workbook but the

    number of cell references in your formulas and the efficiency of the

    functions used. It is also important to understand how Excel runs

    calculations, which cells are calculated and the difference between

    volatile and non-volatile functions.

    What are volatile and non-volatile functions?

    Volatile functions are formulas that automatically get recalculated any

    time you enter data in any open workbook. They get calculated

    independent of whether your formula is referencing these cells. It could

    be anywhere in any cell that has nothing to do with this formula. They

    also get calculated anytime you insert a new row or column or you

    rename a worksheet or change the position of worksheets.

    How do normal formulas work?

    Normal non-volatile formulas get recalculated any time you change a

    cell that impacts the formula. If you change a cell that has no impact on

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    the formula nothing gets recalculated. Lets assume you have a large

    Excel file that has thousands of formulas and many of these formulas

    reference other cells which might in themselves also be formulas

    referencing other ranges. This dependency chain is memorized and

    stored by Excel in a dependency tree. Excel uses this dependency tree

    to decide which cells to recalculate and which cells to ignore. For normal

    formula calculation Excel always refers to this dependency chain. If you

    make one change to a cell, it updates its dependency tree.

    Impact of volatile functions

    Note that even though volatile functions get recalculated every time you

    make a move in Excel, the use of these functions does not necessarily

    slow down your workbook. It just might slow it down depending on the

    size and complexity of the workbook. If you find that your workbook is

    very slow and you are using these functions then it would be best to look

    for alternative methods for calculation. Sometimes you can replace

    volatile functions with non-volatile ones such as instead of OFFSET, use

    INDEX and MATCH function. VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is also

    an option for complicated workbooks and calculations.

    Improving your spreadsheet

    The major contributors to slow files are:

    Invalid links to external data & workbooks

    Invalid cell references and names

    Extensive usage of volatile functions and conditional formatting

    Referencing too many unneeded cells, such (D:D) instead of


    By keeping track of the above points you are well on your way to

    creating highly efficient spreadsheets.

  • Excel Tips & Tricks


    Tip #6: Use Conditional

    Formatting Effectively

    Conditional for...


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