What is your favorite feature of Excel? [poll]

Posted on April 5th, 2013 in Learn Excel - 131 comments

Its Friday, time for another poll.

What is your favorite Excel feature? - Poll

This weeks topic is inspired from a discussion Jordan started in our forums (#).

What is your favorite feature of Excel?

I will go first.

My favorite features are,

  • Conditional formatting: Quickly highlight something that is not alright (or meets conditions), see trends with data bars or heat maps.
  • Pivot tables: Turn data in to understandable information with just a few clicks. When combined with slicers & conditional formats, becomes very powerful.
  • Formulas: Ofcourse, with out formulas, Excel would be a glorified notepad!

What about you? What are your favorite features in Excel? Go ahead and tell us by posting a comment.

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Written by Chandoo
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131 Responses to “What is your favorite feature of Excel? [poll]”

  1. Subhash says:

    Formulas – What would we do without it?
    AND the almost never ending treasure hunt digging out hidden (unknown to me) features :-)
     
    Excel is Fun!
    Subhash

  2. Spotpuff says:

    Named ranges – since they are maintained by Excel you can add rows/columns/cells and the reference takes care of itself
    Tables – Again, like named ranges, except without having to use clumsy “dynamic” named ranges (which can break if you add data to the wrong row/column that you’re using to “count” rows/columns in your offset function)
    VBA – automate things, create dynamic sheets, etc.  VBA is what separates Excel from the rest of the wannabe spreadsheet programs.

  3. Omkar Mishra says:

    formulaes..the ability to customize dashboards and the evr dependable pivot tables

  4. Dave says:

    I have to go with VBA – has saved so much staff time.

  5. Flyinpizza says:

    I like Paste Special and Format Cell.
    Pivots, Formuals and VBA are great, but special formatting and pasting features give this elegance to working with Excel

  6. Lasse says:

    For teaching formulas, there is nothing that compares to Trace Precedents and Dependents (and combined with F4 for changing cell references it’s a really good selfstudy tool).
    And for my own use, the automatic translation of formulas (most often english to swedish).

  7. dan l says:

    Pivot tables, power pivot, vba. 
    I spent a lot of time learning a lot of formulas back in the day.  But as I’ve grown up a bit, it seems like everything I need to do I can do with just a couple of formulas and a pivot table. 

  8. Jon Peltier says:

    1. VBA
    2. Charts
    3. Pivot tables
    4. Tables
    NOTE: The combination of Charts and VBA is #1 on the most frustrating parts of Excel.

  9. indzara says:

    Formulas
    Conditional Formatting
    Charts
    Pivot tables

  10. Ann Emery says:

    VBA – because it allows me to automate dashboards like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KLncqwFLLs
    …and vlookup and hlookup
    …and text to columns
    …and simple functions like countifs and sumifs.
    … and  of course sparklines and conditional formatting for quickie eyeballing analyses.
     

    • Oz says:

      Ann! Here you are again!
      How often do you use HLOOKUP?
      I’ve used it just once and it was a lifesaver. I was dealing with 600 columns that were all our of order and HLOOKUP was key to getting them lined up.
       
       

      • Ann Emery says:

        Hahaha hello Oz! This blog is a great resource for all Excel users so I’m not surprised to see you here. Sometimes I used vlookup and other times hlookup, it just depends how the dataset I receive has been formatted. But I probably use vlookup 95% of the time and only need hlookup 5% of the time.

  11. I love Snap To Grid for lining up charts and shapes. 

  12. Gazza says:

    Angry Birds

  13. winston says:

    VBA
    Tables w/Structured Refs
    Charts
    Sparklines
    Formulas
    BI Front-end (CUBES)
    Add-ins (PowerPivot Data Explorer)

  14. Jon says:

    .NET & Excel

    • Tonie says:

      I don’t know .NET, but I would love to learn it and think up an application to use it with Excel. What are you doing with .NET and Excel? Are there books you recommend?

  15. Lynda Maynard says:

    VBA combined with “record macro”
    Sumifs & Countifs
    Named ranges
    Conditional formatting

  16. I like Merge & Center. I’ll defend it.  

    • Doug Glancy says:

      Kind of a rebel, kind of a loner, eh? Ok, give it your best shot.

      • Shoot! I didn’t think anyone would take me up on it.
        Honestly, I don’t really have have a defense except to say that I don’t mind its limitations too much. I know there are many people who say I should use “center across selection,” but I don’t really see the advantage. Where Merge (not so much the center part) does well is when I need to create a larger input box on a spreadsheet without pushing other elements out of the way.   

  17. Marc says:

    Pivot from ODBC connections…make scorecards so easier.

  18. Harish says:

    Formula Pivot and VBA.

  19. Sarah says:

    Pivot Tables! And the ability to sort and filter. Okay…I know that’s more than one favorite but it was kind of a tie :)

  20. Harish says:

    1. VBA
    2. Formula
    3. Pivot tables

  21. Gregg says:

    Formulas and data import queries

  22. Tahir Naveed says:

    Pivot Table
    Charts
    Formulas

  23. Tyler says:

    Pivot tables and formulas have to be together.  I export data, but I always use formulas to create additional data.  I use Pivot tables to transform the data into INFORMATION and CHARTS.  I look like a hero every time!! 

  24. Tiffany says:

    Formulas – VLOOKUP has saved me so much time i can’t even tell you,   Love excel!!

  25. Selvam.V says:

    formulas,Developer,Macros

  26. Pistolprinsen says:

    My favorite feature of Excel MUST be the versitile and flexible toolbars, which you can easily manipulate both from the user interface and via VBA – and even quickly built your own suitable for your own need with just a few mouse-clicks – and EVEN distribute and share with others on the fly!
    And, you’re not forced to have them located any specific place on the screen, say, like on the top, but you can just drag and place them anywhere you want – and they are so small that they don’t clutter up your screen!
    And, all the features of the toolbars are easily accessiable and programable within VBA for user-friendly interface or easy access to any custom made Excel you might have made!

    Man, the toolbars rocks!

    AWESOME!

  27. Gleb says:

    VBA:
    – OpenText method
    – Advanced Filters
    – EnvelopeVisible = true
    – and of course CurrentRegion and xlUp)
    Tables
    VLOOKUP
    Pivot tables

  28. Rob says:

    Data Tables, you know, the {=TABLE(,A1)} variety to distinguish them from the newer Tables.
    These things are absolutely crucial to the analysis that I do day in and day out.  

  29. Fred says:

    It’s the package …  the whole package. 
    Formulae and conditioanl formatting yeah … but without sorting and
     filtering … not nearly as powerful. 
    But I so wish I would take the time to learn how to pivot on a dime.
    +Peace!

  30. KM Zachariah says:

    The User Defined Function (UDF) is my most favourite feature of Excel

  31. Donald Parish says:

    PowerPivot, conditional formatting, Data Connections, tables, filtering. I use regular formulas as little as possible. Any report should be done in pivot tables.

  32. Hennie says:

    Pivottable
    vlookup
    &
     

  33. Cindy says:

    Definitely Pivot Tables.  The group function is especially useful when grouping information by dates.  Summarising by % is pretty useful too.  In fact when I think
    Then closely followed by formulas, in particular – vlookup.
     

  34. Oz says:

    Validation. If the data can’t be protected and the inputs controlled, we’re creating ticking time-bombs

    VLOOKUP – in spite of the anti-VLOOKUP proselytizers. For comparing lists, VLOOKUP works. Period.

    VBA. Makes validation so much sweeter. Program a button to unprotected a sheet, do it’s work and then protect everything again … that’s heavenly.

    Slicers. Awwww YEAH, baby! The sexiest in sifting through data for ad hoc needs.

     

  35. Wayne says:

    the data filtering aspect, coupled with using charts and subtotal functions for “ad-hoc” analysis and visualization of “data scenarios”

  36. Bryan says:

    I love the new PowerPivot addin.  Being able to handle such large amounts of data and VBA.  Being able to connect COM addins and VBA to futher the capabilities of Excel makes it almost limits of what can be done.

  37. Natkatten says:

    1. Formulas (eg. SUMPRODUCT, INDEX+MATCH and array formulas)
    2. Tables
    3. Connections to Database Servers
    4. VBA
    5. Conditional formatting

  38. Niallarm says:

    Using Excell 2003:
    Conditional Sum Add-on;
    Button / Toolbar Editor

  39. Joyce says:

    Pivot tables and VBA to automate those boring repetitive tasks!

  40. Sylvie says:

    Pivot tables
    Formulae
    Dashboards

  41. Sanika says:

    Condional formatting, hide columns, vba etc

  42. Judy says:

    1) Pivot Tables
    2) Macro’s (my VBA is so basic is’t an insult to label it as such)
    3) tie between Paste Special and VLookup.
    I LOVE Excel!

  43. Nishad says:

    I like VBA

  44. TJ says:

    Pivot Charts and Tables
    Conditional Formatting
    and my very favorite is IMDIV
     

  45. Raj says:

    1) Macros
    2) IF, And, OR (use of this with formula its makes magic)
    I love Exploring Excel

  46. 1. Formulae
    2. VBA
    3. Data Import Features
    cheers,
    Ravi.

  47. MrJCJones says:

    I use VBA a lot and really like that you can record macros in Excel and then just modify the code.  This saves you the time of writing the code and looking up uncommon properties and methods.

  48. Jomili says:

    VBA
    Pivots
    VLookup
    all the other formulas

    Bottom of my list: CHARTS. I get SO frustrated with them!

  49. Maggie says:

    Vlookup
    Pivot Tables
    Recording Macros

  50. Jake George says:

    It is really hard to pick favorites as it always depends on what one is trying to develop.
    However, if I must
    VBA..even though I am not exceptionally good at it.
    Formulas, especially the array formulas
    Lookup capabilities
    Ability to change what shows on a spreadsheet by making selections from a given set of choices(drop down box). Always seems to impress other folks.

  51. Susan says:

    Data Validation dropdowns with formulas. You can create great forms with this. Combine it with Vlookup and VBA and the form can do everything but sit the baby (haven’t tried that yet)
    Lookups
    VBA

  52. Krishna Mysore says:

    Named Ranges , Paste linked Pictures, Conditional formatting, VBA
     

  53. Gamz says:

    1) Formulas
    2) Pivot Tables
    3) Macros

  54. Kanagasabapathi (Saba) says:

    Of course whenever you say most lovable excel option, i would say the “F1″ (Help)…
    and Templates which are assisting me and groomed me a lot rather than a tutor does…. 
    Besides, If formula, Text formula, Lookup formulae, and more.
    Last but not least VBA – Macro…..

  55. John H says:

    Pivot tables are awsome for analysis
    Pivot Charts
    Chandoo’s newletter – there is always something cool to learn.

  56. […] Chandoo is polling his readers to find their favorite Excel feature. There’s almost 50 comments as of this writing and a lot of good features mentioned. A couple of people, including Chandoo, named formulas as a top feature. You can’t say formulas are the best feature of Excel. That’s like saying wetness is the best feature of the Ocean. Or cheesiness is the best feature of the Moon. Formulas are Excel. They are Excel’s essence. Aren’t they? […]

  57. Bhavik Khatri says:

    My favourite features:-
    1) VBA
    2) Ranged Names
    3) Sumproducts, Index and match formulas
    4) Pivot Tables
    5) Data Tables
     
     

  58. Matt Healy says:

    Autofilter

    For slicing and dicing data
     

    Vlookup
    Match
    Offset
    Forms Controls

    Create interactive tools without using VBA
     

  59. KEVAL SHAH says:

    Power Pivot & Slicers.

  60. VEERU says:

    My favorites are,
    Pivot tables
    Formulas
    Macros
    Conditional formatting

  61. Ankit says:

    My favorites are:
    1. VBA
    2. Formulas
    3. Conditional Formating

  62. Harshit Agarwal says:

    power pivot in excel2013 is the awesum function …..

  63. asim siddiq says:

    Thank you so very much for viewing my post.
    Conditional formatting
    Pivot tables
    Formulas
    thanks
    asim

  64. Gopinath says:

    1.  Sumproduct
    2.  Conditional Formating
    3.  Iferror

  65. prasha99 says:

    for me it has to be ANALYSIS TOOLPAK !

  66. Sabeesh says:

    Pivot Tables, Formulas, Macros

  67. Ola says:

    $ sign – Absolute reference, deserves to be mentioned
     

  68. Senthilkumar_RM says:

    Hi
    Formulas & Pivot tables 

  69. Wainers says:

    So much to choose from (too much!!!)
    VBA – really satisfying when it works
    Data validation – easy to create lists and impress others
     

  70. Formulas
    Pivot Tables
    Charts
    many more as guided by chandoo.org

  71. visu says:

    vlookup 

  72. BJ Johnston says:

    It has to be Pivot Tables.  I love seeing users faces once you teach them Pivots and how easily they can see their data in more than one dimension.  
     
    Also to go along with Pivots- slicers just awesome…..
    Regards

  73. Julian says:

    This is my list.
    1. Pivot tables (managing & analysing mass amount of data)
    2. Functions & Formulas (no functions no excel)
    3. VBA (the ultimate time saver)
     

  74. Sreekhosh says:

    Conditional Formating
    What if Analysis & VBA

  75. Great comments all! I would be lost without VLOOKUP. Also, our ERP system spits out erroneous spaces before and after so simple formulas like TRIM and CLEAN prove to be life savers.
    Many fields are limited to 30 characters, so LEN is a simple time saver.

  76. Doug Glancy says:

    1. Tables connected to SQL Server Views
    2. Tables connected to Access queries
    3. All other Tables
    4. Index/Match formulas
    5. Pivot tables
    6. Conditional Formatting
    7. Data Validation

    VBA – somewhere in here for functionality, but #1 for fun.

    23. Word Wrap
    24. Quick Access toolbar (never thought I’d say that)

    27. Code Indenter
    28. MZ-Tools

    43. MenuRighter

    58. Select Visible Cells
    59. Camera Tool

    97. Custom Number formats combining labels and variables

    78,326. Merge and Center

  77. Dick Foster says:

    The 2 tools I use most (after formulas, of course):
    vlookup
    pivot tables

  78. Md. Nazmul Muneer says:

    I like to use the functions and features given below:
    ?Conditional Formatting, ?PivotTable and PowerPivot, ?Data Connection, ?Data Validation, ?Lookup and References, ?SUMIFS(), ?3-D References, ?Paste Special, ?IFERROR(), ?Data Validation, ?What-if-Analysis, ?Using Objects and Controls with VBA and Macros
    ———————————————
    Thanks & Regards,
    Md. Nazmul Muneer
    Dhaka, Bangladesh

  79. supertaitai says:

    Oh, great!!!!!!!!!!!!

  80. Anirban says:

    Advanced Chart
    VBA

    IF Function
    Pivot Tables
     

  81. Wimpie says:

    I must say I love VBA and in VBA my best feature is “A LOOP”. Also use a lot of SUMPRODUCT and VLOOKUP. Drop boxes with set criteria is also very helpfull.

  82. Saw says:

    My favorite features in Excel are Macro VBA, excel built-in functions. It is really interesting to create formulas with the built-in functions. 

  83. John Craig says:

    I like the ability to attach a string of data to any calulation or cell.
    e.g. you can attach an “ea” to a cell and insert a quanity in the cell and still include it in a formula   5 ea appears in the displayed cell.

  84. Long T. Nguyen says:

    1. Formulas
    2. Chart – this is a wonderful tool which helps engineers like me saving a lot of time working with scattered data. 

  85. Dwi Budi H says:

    my favorite feature are Formula, especially SUMIF..
    other are Camera.. great to make report or dashboard..
    pivot are great too, but i prefer SUMIF..

  86. nazmul_muneer says:

    Conditional Formatting
    PivotTable and PowerPivot
    IFERROR()
    Data Validation
    Data Connection
    SUMIFS()
    3-Dimensional References
    Objects and Controls with Macros

  87. Wouter says:

    Greatest Excel functions:
    – Tables + connectivity to other data sources
    – Pivot tables
    – Pivot charts

  88. Gaofeng Dong says:

    Of course, my favorite Excel features are Pivottables, Formulas and Charts. Those features improve my efficiency greatly!!

  89. 5antiago says:

    1) Pivot tables, which pay my wages
    2) All those little shortcuts that I discover 6 months after they would have been most useful, e.g. Ctrl-Shft-F3 to automatically create names
    3) The magical way you can stack formulas up and Excel just deals with it

  90. Vijay says:

    i will go with Pivot….love to play long database

  91. Abuhmida Mokhtar says:

    1) Logical functions like IF.
    2) VLOOKUP & HLOOKUP used alone or with other function such as IF & VLOOKUP.
    3) DATA VALIDATION – it is very good to control data entry.
    4) SORT & FILTER.
    5) SUBTOTALS

  92. vishwa says:

    Pivot Tables …

  93. 5antiago says:

    Oh!  I forgot about data tables.  I always arrange everything into tables, even if it isn’t really necessary… I just love the default banded rows look :-)
    I would put data tables in at #1, pushing the other things down one rank

  94. John Ndirangu says:

    I love to work with excel sover. However I do not understand it I need simple tutorials

  95. Meic Goodyear says:

    1. Pivot tables
    2. Charts
    3. Formulae
    4. Vlookup

  96. Godsbod says:

    The best thing for me in Excel, is the button to make it start.
    Then the button to start up VBA to use Excel with other programmes like Powerpoint and Lotus Notes to create great graphics and e-mail them all at the puch of a button in Excel.
    Using Excel to drive VisioPro is also another winner for me, to introduce live-update smart graphics and easy to edit gauge dial mapping.
    And Chandoo.org… :)

  97. Colleen says:

    1.  Tables
    2.  SUMIFS()
    3.  Everything else (it’s too hard to choose)

  98. Santhosh says:

    Filters
    Charts
    Formulas
    Merge

  99. Jl Nado says:

    1 -Sumproducts ( i validate with pivot table, subtotal/filters or sumifs())
    2- Vlookup;
    3- Macros ( copy formula for many range than copy the data…so it’s lighter);
    4- names
     

  100. Tonio says:

    For a non-programmer: VBA
    You can automate, design mini app to look pro, control other applications. This is extraordinary.
    Because VBA I am not converted to OpenOffice, nor to the MAC.
    FRANCE (UE)

  101. Steve says:

    Pivot Tables
    Slicers
    Named Ranges
    Great charting in Excel 2013.
    The list goes on…

  102. Julien says:

    I am always impressed with Target Value

  103. Array formulas!
    Pivot tables!

  104. Ronnie says:

    Not exactly Excel, but Customized Ribbons that started with Office 2010.  If you aren’t using this in all your Office apps, you’re wasting time.  Just create one ribbon with all your main commands and set it first so it is the default.  Then you never (rarely) have to look for stuff again.

  105. Iferror & Vlookup
    They’ve turned me to a magician!

  106. Tim (ZK) says:

    My favorite feature are Pivot Tables and the SUMIF function, especially when using it for year-to-date estimates.  The more I go into the advanced features, the more I like, considering my company is still using Excel 2003. so it does help to bring a good amount of creativity into the open.

  107. Emanuel says:

    1- Sort & Filter
    2- Conditional formatting
    3- and dealing with the add-in named ASAP –  a forgotten great utility, that complements several Excel features.
    Really odd, no one mentioned it!

  108. kumar yogi says:

    Hi
    I Try To insert a search bar in excel sheet………so please help me.
     

  109. Kondraju says:

    VLOOKUP, PIVIOT TABLE & COLOR SORTING

  110. My favorite feature is the lowly ampersand.
    I have created complex HTML tables, automatically generated VB code and numerous other time-saving tasks, simply by being able to concatenate columns.
     
    Of course, all of the neat things that CAN be concatenated make the ampersand worthwhile.
     
    Cheers,
     
    Mitch 
     
     

  111. Fahad says:

    Formulae
    Pivot
    Charts

  112. Mad S-Max says:

    Autofilter

  113. hiren says:

    love formulas
    add-ins
    power pivot
    VBAs
     
    would like to draw a photo in excel cell .
    is it possible??

  114. Judyth says:

    I love data forms! If there was only one feature that has made my life worth living this is it. 
    followed closely by ctrl +enter for multiple selections
    and freeze panes
    :)

  115. Sarah says:

    Text to columns…I love the ease of use…I get lots of reports in text files and with goofy delimiters Excel makes it easy to get the date in readable formats…
    Then Macro’s I love my macros to open and format all those silly text files and set up their basic formulas and calculations.

  116. waseem says:

    I like paste special function. it makes life so much more easier.
    Also the f4 repeat command is very useful.

  117. […] week, we had a lovely poll on what are your favorite features of Excel? More than 120 people responded to it with various answers. So I did what any data analyst worth his […]

  118. Bakar says:

    If & And + VBA + Named Range

  119. Prasantha Imaduwa says:

    I like & use in Working place,
    formulas, Pivot Table, chart & Protection methods,

  120. Mohamed Faizal says:

    I like Chandoo in Excel.

    Because, Chandoo has everything in excel. jk.

  121. HARESHKUMAR SHRIMALI says:

    1. VBA
    2. Charts
    3. Pivot tables
    4. Tables
    5. Formuls
    6. Lookups -All
    NOTE: The combination of Charts and VBA is #1 on the most frustrating parts of Excel. DASHBOARDS & You Guruji.

  122. David Gerson says:

    Indirect + Named Range
    It lets me load data sets and KPI’s based on a user input.

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