All articles in 'Excel Howtos' Category

How to create cascading drop downs in Excel – video

Published on Aug 31, 2015 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
How to create cascading drop downs in Excel – video

Cascading drop downs enhance usability of your dashboards & interactive workbooks. A cascading drop-down is a 2 or more level selection mechanism. When you have 100s of selection choices, instead of creating one massive drop down or combo-box, you can set up multiple levels of drop downs, so that users can narrow down their selection. For example, users can select Country, State and then City using cascading drop downs.

There are many ways to setup cascading drop downs. You can use formulas coupled with either data validation or form controls. You can also use Slicers. In this video we will review these techniques.

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Dynamic Print Areas

Published on Aug 24, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Dynamic Print Areas

Yesterday, you learned about Print Areas – a time & paper saving feature of Excel. While print areas are great, you can only set up one print area per sheet. What if you want to print either report or data based on user selection? 

In such cases, you can set up dynamic print areas. 

That is right. See above demo to understand how it looks. Read on to learn how to set up dynamic print areas.

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Save time & paper with print areas in Excel

Published on Aug 23, 2015 in Excel Howtos

Here is a very simple but effective tip: use print areas. Oh.. but what is a print area? Imagine looking at a report or dashboard worksheet. Now, that sheet also has few calculations, some extra stuff to the right of the report. When you print, you don’t need those extra elements. Just the report will do. This […]

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Reconcile debits & credits using Solver [Advanced Excel]

Published on Aug 18, 2015 in Analytics, Excel Howtos
Reconcile debits & credits using Solver [Advanced Excel]

Here is a tricky problem often faced by accountants and finance professionals: Let’s say you have 5 customers. Each of them need to pay you some money. Instead of paying the total amount in one go, they paid you in 30 small transactions. The total amount of these transactions matches how much they need to pay you. But you don’t know which customer paid which amounts. How would you reconcile the books?

If you match the transactions manually, it can take an eternity – after all there are more than 931 zillion combinations (5^30).

This is where solver can be handy. Solver can find optimal solution for problems like this before you finish your first cup of coffee.

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Use mail merge to create custom letters, invoices, labels and more

Published on Aug 17, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Use mail merge to create custom letters, invoices, labels and more

The idea of mail merge is simple & powerful. Imagine you handle recruitment at a large company. You just hired 300 analysts for the big data division. The next job – generate employment offer letters for each of them. Of course, you don’t want to type these letters one at a time. You have the details of all the 300 offers (name, email, address, offer code, role, benefit package details and date of joining etc.) in a spreadsheet. You also have a template of the offer letter.

Enter mail merge. This powerful feature of MS Word combines (Excel) data with Word document contents to generate all the 300 letters in just few minutes.

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In-cell 5 star chart – tutorial & template

Published on Aug 15, 2015 in Charts and Graphs, Excel Howtos
In-cell 5 star chart – tutorial & template

Whenever we talk about product ratings & customer satisfaction, 5 star ratings come to our mind. Today, let’s learn how to create a simple & elegant 5 star in-cell chart in Excel. Something like above.

Read on to learn how to create the above chart.

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Work with charts faster using selection pane & select object tools [quick video tip]

Published on Aug 14, 2015 in Charts and Graphs, Excel Howtos

Working with multiple charts (or drawing shapes / images) can be a very slow process. But here is a secret to boost your productivity.

Use selection pane & select object tools

Selection Pane & Select Objects?

If you have never heard of these, don’t worry. These are 2 very powerful features hidden in Excel. Once you know how to unlock them, you will never look back.

How to use selection pane & select object tools to work with charts faster – Video

In this video, understand how to use these powerful features to work with charts faster.

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VLOOKUP the last value

Published on Aug 11, 2015 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
VLOOKUP the last value

VLOOKUP is one of the most useful Excel functions. So much so that I even wrote a book about it. But it has one serious limitation.

It looks up the first occurrence and returns corresponding data.

What if you want to find the last value?

Say, for example, you are looking at a task assignment list and want to know what is the last task assigned to employee Emp13?

We want to extract the task “Make amazing workbook”. Of course our good old VLOOKUP stops once it finds Emp13 and returns the answer as “Create intuitive workbook”.

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Declutter your reports by showing icon only

Published on Aug 9, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Declutter your reports by showing icon only

Conditional formatting is one of the most powerful & awesome features of Excel. It is very easy to setup. Naturally, people use it extensively. But the default conditional formatting rules can clutter your reports. Here is one tip that can declutter your reports.

Just show the formatting, not values.

See the above report.

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Remove duplicate combinations in your data [quick tip]

Published on Aug 7, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Remove duplicate combinations in your data [quick tip]

By now, we know how to remove duplicates from data. You can use the Remove Duplicates button to do that.

But do you know that we can use remove duplicates button to get rid off duplicate combinations too?

Remove duplicate combinations – Tutorial

To remove duplicate combinations in your data, just follow below 4 steps:

  1. Select your data
  2. Click on Data > Remove Duplicates button
  3. Make sure all columns are checked
  4. Click ok and done!

See this demo:

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Save time with custom ribbons in Excel [tutorial]

Published on Aug 5, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Save time with custom ribbons in Excel [tutorial]

A significant portion of our time in Excel is spent navigating between various ribbon tabs and clicking buttons. Wouldn’t it be better if you can combine all the frequently used features in to one ribbon? Something like above:

Read on to learn how to create, edit and share custom ribbons in Excel.

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Clean data quickly with Flash Fill

Published on Aug 1, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Clean data quickly with Flash Fill

Excel has many powerful & time-saving features. Even by Excel’s standard, Flash Fill is magical. Introduced in 2013, Flash Fill is a rule engine to Excel’s fill logic. Every time you type something in a cell, Excel will try to guess the pattern and offers to fill up the rest of cells for you. That is some serious time saving magic.

Let’s understand what Flash Fill is and few sample use cases.

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How to find out if a text contains question? [Excel formulas]

Published on Jul 17, 2015 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
How to find out if a text contains question? [Excel formulas]

On Wednesday (15th July), I ran my first ever webinar, on a topic called, “How to be a BETTER Analyst?” (here is the replay link, in case you missed it).  It was a huge success. More than 1,100 people attend the live webinar and hundreds more watched the replay. As part of the webinar, we had interactive Q&A. Viewers posted their questions and I replied to as many of them as I can.

After the webinar, I wanted to make sure I covered all the questions. So I downloaded the chat history. There were more than 700 messages in it. And I am not in the mood to read line by line to find-out the questions. A good portion of chat messages were not questions but stuff like ‘hello everyone, I am from Idaho’, ‘Wow, Chandoo has beard!”, “Enjoying a beer in Belgium while watching webinar” etc. So I wanted a quick way to flag the messages as question or not.

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Use Paste Special to multiply (or add, divide etc.) a range with a variable [quick tip]

Published on Jun 16, 2015 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
Use Paste Special to multiply (or add, divide etc.) a range with a variable [quick tip]

Here is a fun way to use Paste Special to quickly multiply everything in a range with 1.1 (why 1.1? Well, imagine you have a report with everything in US $s and your boss wants to see the numbers in Australian $s…)

Since your report has different formulas for each cell, you can’t multiply first cell with a rate variable and drag it down. You have to manually edit each formula and add *rate at the end of it.

Oh wait…, you can use Paste Special.

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Ensure cleaner input dates with conditional formatting [quick tip]

Published on May 12, 2015 in Excel Howtos
Ensure cleaner input dates with conditional formatting [quick tip]

Here is a familiar problem: You create a workbook to track some data. You ask your staff to fill up the data. Almost all the input data is fine, except the date column. Every one types dates in their own format. Here is a fun, simple & powerful way to warn your users when they […]

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