Some Useful Microsoft Excel Tips : Part I

Spreadsheet software, particularly Microsoft Excel, have revolutionised the way we handled large amounts of tabular data, we no longer write them down repetitively on paper ledgers and pour over them to find statistical anomalies or patterns. But the problems don’t all go away, sometimes the data entry is so gruesome that we wish we were working back in the good old days of paper ledgers, imagining a better life. But wouldn’t it be handy to enter data into Excel without typing it? What if you could enter repetitive content with just a click? What if you could enter all names without typing them in each time? The good news is there are ways which can solve these common problems for people who work regularly with spreadsheets to make them glad they live in a world of computers and digital manipulation.

Calendar Shortcut

How often, when you have needed the days of the week or months of the year in Excel, have you typed the whole thing manually? Well, you no longer should, these entries are so common that Excel stores them as custom lists. To use them, start by selecting the cell where the first day of the week or the first month of the year should appear. Then type the first entry; the day or month you want to begin with. Now, Excel can enter months of the year and days of the week automatically. When you click in this cell, you will see a small black square, called the fill handle, in the bottom-right corner. Click, hold, and drag the fill handle in any direction, and Excel will fill in the accompanying cells with the days of the week, in the proper order. As you drag, a tooltip—a small, gray text box—will appear by the mouse cursor, showing which entry will appear in the cell you are hovering over. You can even use abbreviations for both the days and months, such as Sat for Saturday and Dec for December.

Custom List

The days and the months were Excel generated lists. But the lists do not end there—you can create your own custom list in Excel for filling in a range of cells later. If you have to type in a particular set of data repeatedly, such as the locations of your listings or the names of friends, put those items in a Custom List that Excel can fill out for you. Your custom lists work the same way as the day and month lists that ship with Excel. Choose File>>Options>>Advanced>>General, and click Edit Custom Lists. Click New List in the ‘Custom lists’ box, and then type the list entries—one per line—in the ‘List entries’ box. Click Add to create a Custom List of your entries.

This custom list of yours can be manipulated and used exactly like the excel generated default lists.

Series Data

Often, in Excel you will want to enter a series of dates or numbers. You might need to enter the dates of the 30 days in June, for instance, or a series of numbers like 10, 20, 30, and so on. You can use the fill feature in Excel to do this automatically. To enter the dates of the days in January, start by typing ‘1-Jan-2012’ into a cell—you can enter the date in any recognisable format of your own. Click in that cell and then click and drag its fill handle down the column or across the row. As you do so, the tool tip over the mouse cursor shows the date that will appear in each cell. Let go of the mouse button when you reach your desired end date. The same procedure works with numbers as well. For instance to enter the number series 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and so on, start by typing the number 5 in a cell. Type the number 10 in the cell below it or to its right. Drag over both cells to select them, and then drag the fill handle in the bottom right of the selection down the column or across the row. Stop when the tool tip shows the last number you want to enter. Excel recognises the numbers 5 and 10 as the first two values in the linear series 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and so on, and it enters the series values for you. This form of linear extrapolation works in dates as well, ie you can skip a certain amount of days periodically.

Consecutive Numbers

When entering consecutive numbers, you need to drag the fill handle with the right mouse button. To create a series of consecutive numbers, type ‘1’ into a cell, but drag its fill handle using the right mouse button this time. When you do that, the tool tip will show the number 1 regardless of how far you drag, so you need to guess where to stop. When you let go of the right mouse button, a menu appears. In that menu, click Fill Series, and the consecutive-number sequence will appear in the selected cells.

Happy Blogging :)



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item Some Useful Microsoft Excel Tips : Part I
Some Useful Microsoft Excel Tips : Part I
Some Useful Microsoft Excel Tips : Part I
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