Excel Tips Submitted by You [Part 3]

Posted on May 13th, 2009 in Excel Howtos , Learn Excel - 6 comments

It is the 3rd day of Your week @ PHD and we have already posted some excellent array formulas, productivity hacks and other very useful tips. Just one more day is remaining, so if you want to share something with all of us, go ahead and submit your tips for your week.

Must read: part 1 of excel tips shared by readers | part 2

Display file path in Excel using Web Toolbar by Ang Kean


Excel by default not display the open workbook full path name.

Tips : add the web toolbar item
1. Right click at the toolbar area, choose “Customize…”
2. Browse “Categories:” to “Web” and “Commands:” to “Address”
3. Drag the “Address” Commands to toolbar area by holding left mouse key.


Making VLOOKUP ranges dynamic by Thuy


I use VLOOKUP a lot in my work and while it was great to use, I wanted a bit more ability to check my formula without having to click on every cell to do so.

Now, I use both the INDIRECT, MATCH, and named ranges in my VLOOKUP to help check the accuracy of my references quickly.

In this example, to get my scores for each region for q3_12, my old VLOOKUP formula would be a simple:

=VLOOKUP(W$29,’Data’!$A$1:$AZ$200,6,FALSE)

To

=VLOOKUP(W$26,INDIRECT(“‘”&$Q29&”‘!a1:az200”),MATCH($R29,INDIRECT($S29),0),FALSE

I actually put the data range in a column Q29 on my spreadsheet and indicate the named Range of in the column.  In this case, my reference named range is “Data”.

For the column count, before using match, I would count manually but whenever there was a data change (as in, columns would get moved around), I would need to change the column manually.  It would get very confusing considering I use over 500 lookup formulas in my workbooks and not very accurate.

I use the MATCH function to help me locate the column that I needed the LOOKUP to look under.  First, I would name the row of my data reference sheet to something like DataCol:  =Data!$1:$1.

Then in my vlookup formula worksheet, I would put in column R29, put the heading of the column I was looking for in Column Q29, in this case it would be “q3_12”.   In column S, I would indicate the named range of where to look for the match.  In this case it is “DataCol.”
Vlookup tweak - data format


R1C1 still makes sense by Vishy


What is R1C1 reference style

Instead of using letters for columns and numbers for rows (i.e. A1 reference style), R1C1 style enables using numbers for both rows and columns.

Why should you know this

  • You are working on a machine with such setting, so instead of getting flummoxed, you better understand it (or at least learn to revert to A1 style referencing)
  • Easy to construct “Indirect” addresses, “offset” references etc. (used in conjunction with Row, Column, Address, Rows, Columns functions)
  • Easy to write macro loops (since dealing with numbers instead of single/double letters)
  • The two styles are equivalent in power, but R1C1 style has an advantage when it comes to formula editing (eg. find/replace functionality)

How to setup

  • XL 2003 : Tools > Options > General > Settings > R1C1 reference style
  • XL 2007 : Office > Excel Options > Formulas > Working with formulas > R1C1 reference style

How to use

  • RxCy : absolute reference to xth row and yth column (any of x / y could be missing which then means “current”)
  • R2C10 refers to 2nd row 5th column (equivalent to E2 in A1 style)
  • RC5 refers to current row 5th column
  • R[x]C[y] : relative reference w.r.t. current cell to xth row down (up if x is -ve) and yth column right (left if y is -ve)
  • R[2]C[-10] refers to 2nd row down and 10th column left of current row
  • RxC[y] : mixing of absolute/relative reference

Where should one not use this

While working on the sheet, relative reference may be far apart from current cell. If there is large number of such references, avoid R1C1 style.

Interesting Trivia (added by PHD)

my twitter handle is r1c1, so are my reddit, digg and older blog’s handle


More resources to help you understand these tips better:

Vlookup excel formula in plain English

Vlookup tutorial

Thank you so much Ang Kean, Thuy and Vishy. You are *really* outstanding individuals.

PS: We have only one more day people, so go ahead and share your tips. Go!

Written by Chandoo
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6 Responses to “Excel Tips Submitted by You [Part 3]”

  1. chrisham says:

    Chandoo, Thuy's Vlookup tip is very useful, and but I am not able to figure that one as yet.
    Could you add a sample file to illustrate it better.
    thanks a lot!

  2. Peder Schmedling says:

    Nice tip about the address bar, haven't thought of using it for this..
    Any chance we can resize the address bar? (we use way long file paths in my company)

  3. Ang Kean Heong says:

    >Nice tip about the address bar, haven’t thought of using it for this..
    Any chance we can resize the address bar?

    Sure,
    1. Right click at the toolbar area, choose “Customize…”
    2. Left click at the address bar added just now.
    3. It will be highlight, move cursor to edge and resize it.

  4. Peder Schmedling says:

    Thank you Ang Kean Heong 😀

  5. Chandoo says:

    @Chrisham: I have created a simple example of this and uploaded it here: http://chandoo.org/img/n/vlookup-dynamic-example.zip

    Let me know if you have some questions.

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