Freezing Rows and Columns
If you have a lengthy spreadsheet containing tons of data, you may have to scroll too far down or even across to view it all. This means you will lose sight of your headings and find yourself constantly scrolling back to see them. However, if you freeze the rows and columns, then those headers will remain as you move through your spreadsheet.
- Navigate to the View tab and select Freeze Panes on the ribbon.
- In the Freeze Panes dropdown, select Freeze Top Row, Freeze First Column, or choose both if needed.
Note that in older versions of Excel, the process is a bit different. Select the cell that is common to both the row and column you want to freeze and then click Freeze Panes.
Operating the Fill Handle
The fill handle in Excel can be a huge time-saver when you need to populate multiple cells and there are a few different ways this feature can be used. First, you can quickly create a list of numbers that count up by entering 1 into the first cell and 2 in the cell below it. Then, select both cells and when the fill handle appears, just drag to populate the cells as needed.
When using the feature for dates, you can easily fill a column or row in increments of one day. For instance, you can enter 12/25/16 into the cell, select that cell, and when the fill handle appears just drag to add subsequent dates. This maneuver also works with days of the week and months of the year as well as downward through a column and across through a row.
Transposing Columns and Rows
If you have a spreadsheet using headings in columns or rows (or both) and decide they would work better the opposite way, there is an easy process to make the change. This saves you from having to retype those headings. Here are the steps to move cells from row headings to column headings.
- Select the cells in the column that contain the headings.
- Either right-click and select Copy or click the Copy button on the Home tab of the ribbon.
- Select the cell in the row and column where you want the headings to start.
- Either right-click and select Paste Special or click Paste and then Paste Special on the Home tab of the ribbon.
- Select the checkbox near the bottom right that says Transpose.
- Click OK.
Accessing the Calculator
To add the calculator to either location, begin by selecting File > Options. Then choose either Customize Ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar, depending on where you want it. In the Choose commands from dropdown box, pick All Commands. Scroll down, click Calculator, and then hit the Add button to insert it into the toolbar. Note that if you choose to add it to your ribbon, you will have to create a custom group and add it there.
Linking to Tabs or Cells
If your workbook contains several spreadsheets with data being cross-referenced between them, creating a direct link provides speedy access. This is especially helpful if you are sharing a workbook so that others can jump to that data quickly. Follow these simple steps to create the link:
- Select the cell containing the data that you want to link.
- Either right-click and select Hyperlink or go to the Insert tab and click Hyperlink in the ribbon.
- In the popup window, select Place in this Document.
- Then enter the text to display in that cell, a specific cell reference if desired, and the spreadsheet in the workbook with the data you are linking to.
- Click OK.
Using Keyboard Shortcuts
- F4 (or Fn + F4) to repeat the last command, including formatting changes such as color or font.
- Alt + H, E, A to erase the contents, formatting, and other data attached to the selected cells.
- Ctrl + W to close a spreadsheet and Ctrl + O to open one.
- Ctrl + Shift + Colon to enter the current time and Ctrl + Shift + Semicolon for the current date.
- Shift + F9 to calculate the active worksheet.
- Shift + Tab to move to the previous cell or option.
- Ctrl + Home to move to the beginning of the spreadsheet.
- Ctrl + Page Down to move to the next spreadsheet in a workbook and Ctrl + Page Up to move to the previous one.
Working With AutoSum
Some might think that working with formulas in Excel is too time-intensive to get into. But even for simple equations, these built-in functions can definitely move your spreadsheet work along faster.
Unless you have moved or deleted it from your ribbon, the AutoSum button should be on your Home tab. This handy feature gives you the most common formulas with a click. You can add, count, or average a group of numbers or obtain the minimum or maximum of them. Just click the arrow on the AutoSum button to choose your formula.
In addition to the AutoSum feature, your Formulas tab contains even more options. Each formula is grouped into a category to make it easy to find. You can select from financial, logical, math, statistical, or engineering functions.
But for the most widely-used formulas, the AutoSum feature is quick and convenient.
Using Simple Conditional Formatting
Conditional formatting is another one of those Excel features that many might find intimidating. However, for data that you want to see pop off the page, it’s a great tool.
For example, say you have a spreadsheet of data from a survey and at a quick glance you want to see how many Yes answers you have as opposed to No answers. These steps show you how to apply simple formatting.
- Select the cells containing the Yes/No answers.
- On the Home tab, click the Conditional Formatting dropdown box.
- Choose Highlight Cells Rules and then Text That Contains.
- Type the word Yes in the left box and choose the formatting for it from the right box.
- Follow the same steps for the No answers.
You will then see all of the Yes and No answers formatted the way you chose, making them easy to spot.
Quickly Inserting Charts
The Charts feature within Excel is a terrific tool for displaying your data visually. And, you can choose from a variety of chart types such as pie, bar, line, column, and many others.
Using the above example of conditional formatting for Yes/No answers, you can insert a chart with just a few clicks.
- Select the cells containing the Yes/No answers.
- On the Insert tab, click Recommended Charts. With this option, Excel will take your data and put it into the type of chart it fits best.
- If you like the chart, click OK and it will be inserted into your spreadsheet.
This is the easiest and fastest way to create a chart in Excel and takes only a minute. However, if you do not like the chart created for you, you can click the All Charts tab in the popup window and experiment with other types.
Sorting With Filters
When you have a spreadsheet containing many columns of data, you may want to sort or filter it all by a certain column. While there are a couple of ways you can do this, using a filter is the quickest and safest way to do it.
- Select the entire sheet by clicking the triangle button next to your first column at the top left.
- On the Home tab, click Sort & Filter.
- Choose Filter.
That’s it! This fast move will put an arrow into the first row for each of your columns. When you click an arrow, you can sort the entire sheet by that column in the way you choose. If it’s a date field, you can sort from oldest to newest and if it’s a text field, you can sort alphabetically.
In addition, you can filter the data to see only the entries you want. When you click an arrow you will notice checkboxes next to your entries. Marking and unmarking these boxes will filter the data so that you see exactly what you need.
The nice thing about using the Filter feature is that it does not negatively affect the rest of your data. If you sort an entire sheet, Excel will adjust all columns. And if you filter, Excel will simply hide what you do not want to see.
Using the Format Painter
If you use other Microsoft Office applications such as Word, you may already be familiar with the Format Painter. In Excel, this convenient tool lets you apply the same formatting from one or more cells to others with a single click.
- Select the cell, group of cells, row, or column that you want to copy the formatting from.
- On the Home tab, click Format Painter.
- Select the cell, group of cells, row, or column that you want to copy the formatting to.
This is a fantastic way to quickly apply helpful formatting of cells to others without manual work.
Switching and Viewing Windows
Are there times when you need to work with more than one Excel workbook at the same time? Maybe you need to review data, compare it, or even copy data from one workbook to another. Excel provides a useful set of viewing features to help. Head over to the View tab to check out these options.
- Arrange All: When you click this button, you can arrange all of your open workbooks on one screen. Choose from a tiled, horizontal, vertical, or cascade view.
- View Side by Side: This option lets you choose two open workbooks to view next to or on top of each other, which is perfect for comparisons.
- Switch Windows: Click this button when you have many Excel workbooks open at once and want to switch between them quickly. No minimizing and maximizing windows is necessary with this awesome feature.
Installing Handy Add-Ins
Office Add-ins are similar to browser extensions in that they are tools to enhance your application experience, data, and efficiency. And in Excel, you have many helpful add-ins to choose from depending on your needs.
Select the Insert tab and click Store. You can then check out tools by category. For instance, the Productivity category contains add-ins for document automation and a template gallery. And, the Project Management category has add-ins for Gantt charts and activity timers.