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75 Excel Speeding up Tips Shared by YOU! [Speedy Spreadsheet Week]



As part of our Speedy Spreadsheet Week, I have asked you to share your favorite tips & techniques for speeding up Excel. And what-a-mind-blowing response you gave. 75 of you responded with lots of valuable tips & ideas to speed-up Excel formulas, VBA & Everything else.

75 Excel Speeding up Tips - How to speed-up & optimize slow Excel workbooks?

How to read this post?

Since this is a very large article, I suggest reading few tips at a time & practicing them. Consider bookmarking this page so that you can refer to these wonderful ideas when you are wrestling with a sluggish workbook.

Thanks to all the contributors

Many thanks to everyone who shared their tips & ideas with us. If you like the tips, please say thanks to the contributor.

Please note that I am not able to share some of the files you emailed as they contained personal / sensitive data.

Read Excel Speeding-up tips by area

This page is broken in to 3 parts, click on any link to access those tips.

Formula Speeding-up Tips
VBA / Macros Optimization Tips
Everything Else
Share your tips

Formula Speeding-up Tips

Tips for Formula speeding up by Adam B of Perth

I use Formula-Calculation Options-Manual to disable calculations when setting up complex inter-relating formula pages. This stops Excel from churning through calculations every time I change a cell, saving my time. I just hit F9 to recalculate when I want to see the results.

I use
Application.ScreenUpdating = False and
Application.Calculation = xlManual
to speed up macros, and
Application.StatusBar = LoopNum
so I can see the status of my macro and estimate how long there is left to calculate. Don’t forget to switch these back at the end of the macro!

When I have complex formulas with results that won’t change, I hard-code these to save calculation time, but I keep the formula only in the first cell, or pasted in a comment.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Adi

Hi Chandoo,
In spreadsheets that have vlookups, if the source file is not going to change; I have realized that it is better to paste-special the vlookup values. This is because even a couple of vlookup slows down the file massively on account of recalculating of values.
Another step I take (this depends on the criticality of data and other factors) is to set the auto-save function in excel to an infrequent duration.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Andrew Carpenter

Replace sum products with count ifs or sum ifs where possible – they calculate a million times faster!!

About Andrew Carpenter

Tips for Formula speeding up by Andy Creager

Avoid large number of SUMIFS, instead, aggregate data into a PivotTalble, then use the Index(Match) combo to locate the sums.

I have dramatically sped up large worksheets doing this.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Arpit Patni

1. Change Calculation to Manual mode. Calculate manually only when required.
2. Delete all name ranges, unused area, unnecessary formatting.

About Arpit Patni

Tips for Formula speeding up by Brad Autry

I think some of the more basic, but highly effective tips to speed up larger workbooks are:

1.) Avoid array formulae, where possible. Everyone knows there are a million ways to skin the proverbial Excel cat. Find alternatives to array.

2.) Adjust the calculation options, if necessary. Frequent calculations = sluggishness. A word of warning, though – people need to know if calculations aren’t automatic, or it can/will cause confusion.

3.) If all else fails, copy and paste as value. If the recipients of your data don’t need the flexibility to enter new data and update values with calculations, take formulae out of the equation (no pun intended) all together.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Brian

I replaced all my SUMPRODUCT formulas with SUMIFS and calculation time went from about 50sec to instantaneous. My system is a AMD 6 processor with 8gig memory, Excel 2007.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Conor

Stay away from array formulas (unless to have calculations on Manual).

Tips for Formula speeding up by Crisu

A simple, little tip/trick for speeding up calculating:
Sometimes in a workbook you have so many formulas that for effective work you have no other choice but to turn off the auto-calculating. Still you work on your workbook, writing new formulas, there is no problem if you just wrote one formula in one cell – it can be calculated by just F2-Enter combo. Problem is when you created a new formula for a whole column – you don’t have to calculate whole workbook now or “F2-enter” every cell – just select the column you want to calculate, Ctrl+H and change “=” for … “=”. It’s a known trick, still some people may not know it yet. Cheers.
PS. I don’t work on English version of Excel so my translations may not be accurate.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Dan

I use templates with formulas in them that I add data to every month, and once I paste the next months data I copy down the formulas recalculate and then copy and paste the formulas except for one line of formulas for next month. In this way my spreadsheet of 200-300k & growing lines doesnt have to recalculate all the rows everytime.

About Dan

Tips for Formula speeding up by Darryl

I set the Automatic Calculation option to manual make any changes in Excel and then hit F9 to calculate as and when required or set back to Automatic once I have completed any large or slow spreadsheets. Save me so much time and frustration. I would love to hear any other tips on speeding up spreadsheets.

Tips for Formula speeding up by David

Cut down on the use of Array formulas – particularly if they are nested in IF statements.

Tips for Formula speeding up by J Thamizh Irai

Speed tips for formulae
1 As you type formula after the =sign, when the prompt appears select the down arrow key and press Tab key so that the function is inserted. Then press the fx in the formula bar to bring up the prompts and start filling the blanks
2 Use f4 key for referencing
3 When using the Rept formula use “l” which is L in small caps and then type the number of times you want to rept.
4 can combine 2 rept commands by shrinking the column width than doing long formulae
5 Rept formula is a powerful tool and can used to show both negative and positive values For e.g. profit and loss A/C can be shown in rept formula
another use of rept formula is to use it for confidence interval with mean in the middle.
6 To make Vlook up to look up values in the right side: copy and paste the columns next to each other and perform vlook up. it is easy and there is no need for another formula For eg;Name and Phone number in two columns
Vlook up will look up the name and will return the phone number. If we have phone number and want the name then we need to write a match and index, Instead if you copy name and phone next to each other then for the phone number vlook up will return the name. That is easy.
I am feeling sleepy after this. More later

Tips for Formula speeding up by Jan Karel Pieterse

Nice subject!
My 2 cts.

A. Formulas

1. If you need to turn off recalc, it is time for a redesign.
2. Avoid array formulas (this includes sumproduct), instead use helper columns which have intermediate results. Easier to debug and very often much faster
3. Avoid VLOOKUP, especially on large tables, instead, use INDEX combined with MATCH, where you use a helper column for the match so you only ask Excel to search your table once for each row instead of once for each column in a row.
4. Do your summarizing with Pivot tables instead of functions
5. Be prudent with range names. Use them sparingly and limit them to constants. Formulas with range names are harder to audit because of the extra layer between your formula and the grid.
6. Visit www.decisionmodels.com, the site contains a wealth of information on recalculation in Excel.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Jason

I work with files that use a lot of data tables. In order to avoid excessive delays I will turn off the automatic setting under calculation options and select automatic except for data tables. In addition, I have noticed that excessive conditional formatting can really bog down the spreadsheet as well. Thus, I try to limit and consolidate formatting needs where I can.

About Jason

Tips for Formula speeding up by Jon

Use as many array formulas as possible on the staging worksheet. That way the Excel or UDF functions are called as few times as possible.

About Jon

Tips for Formula speeding up by Kate Phelps

The way I speed up my workbooks is by pasting values (instead of keeping the formulas) once the data is no longer going to be updated. For example, I have files that track activity that has happened each quarter. The sheets often have 35,000 rows of data and formulas in each of the 10 columns (for each row). As soon as the quarter is over, I paste the values over the formulas since things won’t be changing any longer.

About Kate Phelps

Tips for Formula speeding up by Kien Leong

Perform paste down macros for all calculations. These use dynamic named ranges to select a row of formulas, then paste them in against a table of data. This way you can calculate formulas against thousands of rows and then copy-paste special with values. Removing live formulas seriously reduces calculations times for workbooks with 1K+ rows of data.

Perform Sorts and then use range formula (OFFSET, INDEX) to select a subset of rows, rather than using conditional formula on whole columns. SUMIF, COUNTIF, array formulas etc are very slow on big columns of data. Sorting can filter a table to records that share the same attribute and range formulas can pick up row numbers to only select a sorted block of values.

About Kien Leong

Tips for Formula speeding up by Konrad

Keep use of array formulas to a minimum. Keep calculations running sequentially from top left to bottom right when possible. Break up larger internal formula calculations into smaller bites (more columns etc). Look for formula parts shared by formulas. Use offset to keep lookup formulae to the minimum required ranges. Use built-in formulas whenever possible.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Krishna Khemraj

I work with large workbooks with extensive formula throughout. I used to use VBA to paste in formulas then I would value them out, but my clients couldn’t easily modify the formulas if they desired a change. Since then I would place a formula row at the top of the data and use VBA to copy that row and paste formulas below, calculate then value them out. The client can then modify the initial row of data to suit their needs. This greatly improved save and load times.

About Krishna Khemraj

Tips for Formula speeding up by Larry

When I have thousands of rows of equations (all the same), I convert all but the top row to values. Then I create a macro that spreads the equations from the top row down to all the necessary rows and makes them values again. Saves a lot of excel recalculating.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Marco

use iferror instead of if(iserror(…

Tips for Formula speeding up by Mark

I have Excel 2003 files of 45 Mb plus that track daily shift performance that have lots of vlookups, conditional formats, data validation, event triggered VBA. To speed things up I cheat! The historic data is copy-special pasted over itself to turn it into values only – so when auto updates happen they only process the “current data”.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Mark W.

One thing I do where there are multiple columns with formulas is this:
Once my formulas have all calculated and I know the the results won’t change, I copy the formula and put it at the top of my spreadsheet. Then put a red top & bottom border around the formula so I can easily find them.

I then copy the data set full of formulas and re-paste it on itself (keyboard shortcut – copy/file/paste special/values). The spreadsheet calculates much faster.

When I need to update the data I just copy the row of formulas and paste them over the data rows.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Matthew Strehl

save as .xlsb to speed up opening time/decrease file size. also changed =if(iserror) to =iferror to speed up processing. changed from vlookups to pivot table/=getpivotdata format to speed up processing

Tips for Formula speeding up by Michelle Forrest

a) Delete/or clear contents on all blank cells under & to the right of my data. b) On old inherited files, clear out old range names. c) use specific cell references for vlookups (rather than entire columns) d) remove as many calc’s as possible (copy-paste-special values) e) keep pivot tables in separate file from data file f)Stopped using arrays & sumproduct() completely 🙁 g) now considering upgrading to 64 bit OS & 64 bit MSOffice 2010 (currently using 32 bit MSExcel 2010 on XP)

Tips for Formula speeding up by Mohit Jaiswal

1. Define name of ranges and Use it in the Formula if data is flowing from database.
2. Remove the unused name or name resulted any error or scope outside the workbook.( Formulas—>name manager)

Tips for Formula speeding up by Ramesh

Reduce Images / Shapes that reduces the performance

Tips for Formula speeding up by Rubén Huapaya

Linking all my dashboards with pivot tables and queries for to update complex data with one click.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Steve

My array formulas used to reference an entire row or column (e.g. A:A or 1:1), and I’m pretty sure that slowed down the sheet. I shrunk the reference to go through, say, row 5000, and it appears to have helped the problem.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Tayyab Hussain

No doubt excel is a powerful analytical tool but most of the people do not plan before designing there spreadsheet. One should plan the Start and End in mind, and the assumption that the spreadsheet will never be used again should kept out of mind. Perhaps this is might be the number one rule. Spreadsheets are about giving correct information to the user, not possible erroneous information that looks good.

Excel Best Practices & Design

Your spreadsheet should be easy to read and follow. Most of the users spend about 30%, or more, of their time formatting their spreadsheets. Use the cell format of Text if really necessary. Any cell containing a formula, that is referencing a Text formatted cell, will also become formatted as Text. This format is not usually needed but very much used. If you apply a number format to specific cells avoid applying the format to the entire column. If you do, Excel will assume you are using these cells.

Try and ensure all related raw data is on one Worksheet and in one workbook. When putting in headings bold the font. This will help Excel recognize them as headings when you use one of its functions. When putting data into the data area of your spreadsheet try to avoid blank rows and columns. This is because a lot of Excels built-in features will assume a blank row or column is the end of your data. Use real dates for headings and format them appropriately. If you want the names of the months as headings type them in as 1/1/2001, 1/2/2001, 1/3/2001 etc then format them as “mmmm”. This is a very simple procedure that is all too often overlooked by many. Don’t put in one cell what could go in more than one cell, i.e. the names of 100 people to put into your spreadsheet, don’t put their full name in one cell. Instead, put the First name in one cell and their surname in the next cell to the right.

This is the biggest part of any spreadsheet! Without them you really only have a document. Excel has over 300 built in Functions (with all add-ins installed), but chances are you will only use a handful of these.
The usual practice in regards to formulae in Excel is the referencing of entire columns, this is a big mistake! This forces Excel to look through potentially millions, of cells which it need not be concerned with at all. One of the very best ways to overcome this is to familiarize you with the use of dynamic named ranges.

Speeding up Re-calculations
A common problem with poorly designed spreadsheets is that they become painfully slow in recalculating. Some people will suggest that a solution to this problem is putting a calculation into Manual via Tools>Options>Calculations. A spreadsheet is all about formulas and calculations and the results that they produce. If you are running a spreadsheet in manual calculation mode, sooner or later you will read some information off your spreadsheet which will not have been updated, this means using F9 on regular intervals, which can cause bad results, because Pressing F9 can be overlooked.
Arrays, Sumproduct (used for multiple condition, summing or counting), UDFs, Volatile Functions and Lookup functions, can slow down the recalculations of spreadsheet.

Array Formulas
The biggest problem with array formulas is that they look efficient. An Array must loop through each and every cell they reference (one at a time) and check them off against a criteria. Arrays are best suited to being used on single cells or referencing only small ranges. A possible alternative are the Database functions. Another very good alternative which is mostly overlooked is the Pivot tables. Pivot Tables can be frightening at the first site but it is the most powerful feature of Excel.

UDF (User Defined Functions)
These are written in VBA and can be used the same way as built in functions can be, but unfortunately, no matter how good the UDF is written the, it will perform at the same speed as one of Excel’s built-in functions, even if it would be necessary to use several nested functions to get the same result. UDFs should only be used if an Excel function is not available

Volatile Functions.
Volatile functions are simple functions that will recalculate each time a change of data occurs in any cell on any worksheet. Most functions which are non-Volatile will only recalculate if a cell that they are referencing has changed. Some of the volatile functions are NOW(), TODAY(), OFFSET(), CELL(),INDIRECT(), ROWS(), COLUMNS() . If you are using the result of these functions frequently throughout your spreadsheet, avoid nesting these functions within other functions to get the desired result especially in array formulas and UDF’s. Simply use the volatile function into a single cell on your spreadsheet and reference that cell from within other functions.

Lookup Functions
The Famous Vlookup(). Excel is very rich in lookup functions. These functions can be used to extract data from just about any table of data. The biggest mistake made by most, is the forcing of Excel to look in thousands, if not millions of cells superfluously. The other mistake is that the lookup functions are told to find an exact match. This means that Excel will need to check all cells until it finds an exact match. If possible, always use True for VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP. So, whenever possible, sort your data appropriately. Sorting the lookup columns is the single best way to speed up lookup functions. Another Bad practice is the double use of the Lookup Function nested within one of Excels Information functions. Like =if(isna(vlookup(cell ref,Range,2,false))=true, “Please check”, (vlookup(cell ref,Range,2,false)))
This is used to prevent the #N/A error from displaying when no match can be found. This forces Excel to use the VLOOKUP twice. As you can imagine, this doubles the number of Lookup functions used. The best approach is to live with the #N/A, or hide it via CONDITIONAL FORMATTING.

Lean to us e database functions. They are very easy to use and are often much faster than their Lookup & Reference counterpart.
Microsoft Tips
Organize your worksheets vertically. Use only one or two screens of columns, but as many rows as possible. A strict vertical scheme promotes a clearer flow of calculation.

When possible, a formula should refer only to the cells above it. As a result, your calculations should proceed strictly downward, from raw data at the top to final calculations at the bottom.

If your formulas require a large amount of raw data, you might want to move the data to a separate worksheet and link the data to the sheet containing the formulas.

Formulas should be as simple as possible to prevent any unnecessary calculations. If you use constants in a formula, calculate the constants before entering them into the formula, rather than having Microsoft Excel calculate them during each recalculation cycle.

Reduce, or eliminate, the use of data tables in your spreadsheet or set data table calculation to manual.

If you only need a few cells to be recalculated, replace the equal signs (=) of the cells you want to be recalculated. This is only an improvement if you are calculating a very small percentage of the formulas on your worksheet.

Tips for Formula speeding up by Umesh

By changing formulas to manual from automatic

Tips for Formula speeding up by Vinod

If my model has lot of formulas in the data sheets and working on the summary tab – then I will Keep my formula calculation option as “Manual”.

If you are doing calculation in one sheet Pls use Shift+F9 (to get refresh the formula in the active sheet).

F9 – to refresh the complete workbook.

Tips for Formula speeding up by wintermute

1. arrange source data before linking to dashboard / report with macros and other aggregate functions
2. separate results into several charts & link list boxes to just one calculation
3. avoid volatile and array functions

VBA / Macros Optimization Tips

Tips for VBA optimization by Alok Joshi

First. I find your site awesome.
Well I speedup my VBA code by setting
Application.ScreenUpdating to false
Application.EnableEvents to false and
Application.Calculation to xlCalculateManual
and then setting those values back to whatever they were before I made the changes. I do EnableEvents when I use a Event Driven actions and I know that I do not need them during those calculation/operations.

Tips for VBA optimization by Bruce Mcpherson

Two approaches.
a) Profile both worksheet calculations, and if necessary VBA code using the profilers downloadable here to identify and report on slower performing calculations and code.

b) in VBA, always abstract data from the worksheet and work on the abstracted object model.


About Bruce Mcpherson

Tips for VBA optimization by David KABUTE

We design macros which we run across the many worksheets. If formulas are generated, we do final macros to save the formula results as numbers. This retains our worksheets as light.



Tips for VBA optimization by Debbie

1. Disable screen updating in VBA.
2. Set calculation to Manual, use Shift-F9 to calculate each sheet as needed. Is a pain, but I have found it is a major time saver on a couple of my largest files.

About Debbie

Tips for VBA optimization by Eloy Caballero

Recently, I’ve been busy with a project to emulate software for seeking secret messages in classical texts using EXCEL. I need to write hundreds of thousands of single letters each in a cell, and I’ve found it faster to operate internally VBA and finally write as a block in a declared range, rather than doing it via a loop writing individually each cell.
I haven’t measured times, but I would venture it’s a lot faster.

About Eloy Caballero | Excel file with this example

Tips for VBA optimization by Jayshreee

Not sure if this is what you are looking for – but here is what I do to speed up my excel workbook –

Along with all standard keyboard shortcuts – I have been creating a lot of Macros. I ran out of shortcut keys I can use with Ctrl – so now started using Ctrl+Shift to create my own shortcuts. (May be I don’t know any existing shortcut- and tried to reinvent the wheel for some of them)

I have Macros for – Green/Yellow/Pink Highlight – Merge + Wrap Text – Enter TB Link (Entering specific formula to cell) – Single Underline Cell

Just thought to share this as you asked for – considering all the entries I have seen from others on your website, I am just a newbie in the Excel World.

About Jayshreee

Tips for VBA optimization by John Hackwood

VBA: One powerful one is to use “Destination:” in your copying and pasting which bypasses the clipboard. Or if only values are wanted simply assign values.

So instead of:
Sheet1.Range(“A1:A100”).Copy Destination:=Sheet2.Range(“B1”)

If values only required ditch copy and simply assign values from one place to another:
Sheet2.Range(“B1:B200”).Value= Sheet1.Range(“A1:A100”).Value

About John Hackwood

Tips for VBA optimization by Manoj Kapashi

Avoid loops like the plague while writing macros, unless absolutely necessary.

Tips for VBA optimization by Mark Heptinstall

A tip which is well documented when searching for ways to improve performance when using VBA/Macros is to turn off screen updating, calculations and setting PivotTables to manual update.
Most of the procedures I create in VBA start with:
With Application
.ScreenUpdating = False
.Calculation = xlCalculationManual
End With

And will end with the following statements:
With Application
.ScreenUpdating = True
.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic
End With

If PivotTables are involved then I include the following in procedure:
With PivotTable
.ManualUpdate = True
End With

And will end with the following statement
With PivotTable
.ManualUpdate = False
End With

Tips for VBA optimization by Martin

Planning carefully before coding.
Passing the entire SQL query into the code, leaving no connection on sheets.

About Martin

Tips for VBA optimization by Matt Nuttall

This is a very general tip, but when using VBA — AVOID LOOPS!

Use the “Find” and “Search” methods rather than looping through cells. Loops work quick when you are using less than 100, or sometimes less than 1000 cells — but start adding more and you will be in for a waiting game.

About Matt Nuttall

Tips for VBA optimization by Ray Martin

If you have VBA code that writes updates to the screen, this slows down the code (I/O is slow). If you have a lot of screen writes, the code can be painfully slow. You can turn off screen writes while your code is running and then do one massive screen write at the end of the macro. Up at the beginning of your code, maybe just after you declare variables, add the line “Application.ScreenUpdating = False”. At the end of your code, you need to turn screen writes back on so add the line “Application.ScreenUpdating = True” just before you exit the macro.

If you have a load of screen writes, the speed difference can be dramatic.

Tips for VBA optimization by Stef@n

Hey Chandoo


at the beginning of the macro

Application.ScreenUpdating = False
Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual

at the end of the macro
Application.ScreenUpdating = True
Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic
Call Calculate
end sub

regards Stef@n

Tips for VBA optimization by Victor Andrade

With Application.ScreenUpdating = False / True
With Application.Calculation = xl.CalculationManual
Using the statement with wherever is possible
and release memory when the objects variable are not used anymore

About Victor Andrade

Everything Else

Tips for Everything else by Aarthi

1. I list out the things required and will imagine the plan of my task.
2. I try to minimize the calculation for speedy calculation. So, I am trying to learn new formulas.
3. In each and every step, I consider about the others who use that excel. So that I can make the workbook user-friendly to others also.

Tips for Everything else by Benoy

I close MS Outlook when working on heavy files. Basically I exit all the programs that will eat into process speed. It helps to an extent.
Also, I try and minimize cross linking of files.

About Benoy

Tips for Everything else by Bonnie

Power Pivot from Microsoft. This looks like it would solve the problem of large amounts of data.


Tips for Everything else by Danielle

I wrote a blog article on my favorite tips here: http://www.plumsolutions.com.au/articles/excel-model-file-size-getting-out-hand

About Danielle

Tips for Everything else by Dominic

I haven’t done this myself, but a consultant we used sped up our dashboard by writing VBA code which “dumped” a lot of the back data after it was loaded. This greatly reduced the amount of data stored, thus reducing file size, thus sped up the dashboard.

Tips for Everything else by Fred

1. Many database download from whatever system may include blank data occupying cells from the last row of data to the last possible row Excel can provide. So I would look at the data set and delete those rows (or columns, but I see more blank rows than blank columns).

2. Too many pivot tables: I’d ask the person who create multiple pivot table on the same workbook to see if there is a need to maintain those pivot tables. If the answer is
a) no need to maintain: I’d delete.
b) need to maintain but may not be in a pivot table. I’d convert pivot tables into just text/data (thereby removing the pivot function) table.

3. Try to reduce the number of worksheet. I found out that the size of a workbook (I can’t prove it but it’s my general observation) would expand if there are more worksheets.

About Fred

Tips for Everything else by Glenn Reed

Standardize, standardize, standardize! The more you are “boring” the quicker it will be to set up work with (and have others) use your formats!
Items to standardize:
– Font
– Color scheme
– Headers
-Colors for “input” (font color or fill color)
-tab color scheme (answers, data input, analytics)
– Color for “answer/solution”
– Lead with a recap page (easy and quick to find the solution)
-Configure to print (courtesy to others – if you need to print an answer – set up the parameters before sharing)

Tips for Everything else by govind soni

by using single sheet in work book & using alt,clt short key

Tips for Everything else by Heidi B

Oddly enough, the best thing I have found to speed up Excel is to completely disconnect internet access for my computer. I don’t know why, but Excel is unbelievably slow when I am otherwise online, and speeds up immediately when I disconnect. I’d love it if someone could help me understand why this is the case.

Tips for Everything else by Jim

Even though I’ve been using Excel for quite some time, I learn and love your site. You teach me the impossible. The simplest way I at least save data space is to save it in .xlsb format. I read somewhere that even a .xlsx is basically a number of zipped or compressed files that need to open and save. Not sure about that, but know the binary file is much smaller in size than the others. Not sure if macro enabled workbooks will save as binary. Thanks. Always look forward to what the next email will hold…scary sometimes. -Jim

Tips for Everything else by kamran butt

I’m not an expert but try to keep the dashboard as much simple as possible.

Tips for Everything else by krunal

I use access to have the main table and from that table we create different dashboards and reports and pivots to analyze data

Tips for Everything else by Louise Nickerson

I break any links to the spreadsheet that I am not using.

Tips for Everything else by Marcus

Try to avoid adding formatting over an area larger than you need, I’ve found that if you format a whole row, column or worksheet it can slow the workbook down and create large files

Tips for Everything else by Misca

Dumping out as much unnecessary data as I possibly can, converting formulas to values whenever possible and making sure the empty space on each sheet is empty.

Also I’m using lots of pivot tables on my spreadsheets so I’m trying to use as few pivot caches as possible and trying to use external data sources for my PTs whenever possible (or deleting the original data once the PT is created).

Tips for Everything else by Nagessh Volety

Most of the time, to increase speed & size. what I do is
1) simply copy the used data cells to a new sheet, (by selecting from A1 to the end of the data cell),
2) if there are too much of borders decorated around more cells, then try replacing these borders with minimum dotted lines (just to highlight the difference)
3) Avoid using too many fonts in the sheet
4) Cut short complicated formulas or multiple linked formulas,

About Nagessh Volety

Tips for Everything else by Pankaj Gupta

I have Liked based models. I try to make my links as small as possible. I try to put all the sheets in one file and interlink them so that they take less storage space and react much speedy in working.

Tips for Everything else by Pete

Create a view in SQL and set a scheduled task to run to generate the view before you update the dashboard.

Do we get some SWAG for sharing??

Tips for Everything else by Ron007

Here are some tips I’ve collected, although they repeat some points they provide different viewpoints:





Tips for Everything else by Subash TPM

I recently happened to work on a report which has 1.5 lac rows of data in 16 columns. The requirement was that in the main report as soon as a change is made say for a dept or month the numbers should accordingly change. I tried most known formulas like Sumifs, Sumproduct, Vlookup, Index and Match. How ever the calculation time these formulae took was much more compared to one formulae that I felt was the fastest in terms of calculation. That was Getpivot data.
I basically used the “show all report filter” option in the Pivot options to generate summary data in around 500 tabs using the my base data. Then I used get pivot data formula in my report file. Though the file size was a bit huge still my formula get calculated almost instantaneously.

Also one strange thing I noticed in one other file of mine was that when I press Ctrl+end the last cell it stopped was in some 2 lac row or something, how ever the data was only in some 10k rows. I used clear all option from the last cell from where I have data to the last cell it went when I pressed Ctrl+end .By doing this my file size came down from 12 MB to some 600kb.. 🙂

Hope this helps someone.

Tips for Everything else by Terry

Great topic (as usual).
One thing I like to do is minimize links between workbooks. Instead of using live links to import data I like to use import and export sheets. These are identical sheets on the origin workbook (for export) and the receiving workbook (for import). Values are calculated in the origin workbook and pasted to the receiver as values only.
This gets rid of messy links and keeps spreadsheets smaller and tidier.
One thing to be careful of is that if one changes the other has to change so they stay identical.
Thank you again for your excellent material.

Tips for Everything else by teth

That’s my problem too I would love to hear what others say. For
me closing other spread sheets and unnecessary opened tasks in your PC helps.

Tips for Everything else by Timothy Sutherland

– remove external data links – better to import a large data table – or use an SQL statement if possible.
– especially don’t use INDIRECT to anything external

Tips for Everything else by Tyler Bushnell

1) Limit color use in Excel
2) Hide gridlines (with “View Gridlines” function) rather than color the cells white
3) Create smart Vlookup formulas (Arrange data in the lookup tab so the range is as small as possible – 3 columns vs. 20 columns)
4) Link multiple tabs using the same data to one data tab. Ie.. Dates, headers, etc…the links will eliminate having to update each tab.
5) Extract only the needed data from the database (10 columns of needed data vs. 40 columns available data.
6) If the Database report does not allow the user to choose what is exported, export the data, organized the needed data into a consolidated area (rows x columns), Copy & paste into a new tab and delete the original tab. Many people leave the original data in the file, which slows down the file and adds to the file size.

Tips for Everything else by Umang

1) Don’t create different pivots from same data. Copy the old and slice into the new one.

2) Go to special –> Check Last known cell and delete unnecessary data and formulae.

3) Set Calculation option to manual. Do all the dirty work and finally make it automatic and go for a coffee break 🙂

4) Use excel tables as far as possible.

Tips for Everything else by Uwe

To speed up workbooks, the reduction of formulas within the workbooks should be the main aim.
If the data is being pulled from an external database into the worksheet:
– Do not start calculations on that data in the workbook which could have been done before, e.g. using formulas to split up the dates like mm-dd-yyyy, weekdays a.s.o..
– Reduce the amount of sources if possible and combine the data in one sheet
– Use name ranges
– Split up the workbooks for different purposes (Dashboard for CEO, Dashboard for CFO a.s.o..).
– Try to use only one format for importing (I prefer *.csv or *.txt)
– If you connect your Workbook directly to a SQL database, make sure the connection is high-speed

If the modeling is too complex, think of using a a (semi-) professional data ETL tool in between or use the additional add-ons like PALO or Pentaho available as open source to rise the power of multidimensional databases for your BI-tools.

This can and will save time in calculating for the necessary functions of the workbooks. Stay with KISS (Keep it simple, stupid).

About Uwe

Tips for Everything else by Vasim (Indian)

I use name range for multiple pivots, basically the offset function, this not only speeds up my calculation but also reduces the size of the workbook.

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How do you speed-up Excel? Share your tips

Between these 75 ideas & and previously written articles, we have covered a lot of optimization & speeding-up techniques. What are your favorite methods? How do you optimize & deal with sluggish workbooks? Please share your ideas & tips with us using comments.


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35 Responses to “75 Excel Speeding up Tips Shared by YOU! [Speedy Spreadsheet Week]”

  1. Jon says:

    I see most are saying that array formulas are bad. But I thought that when you use array formulas it grabs all the data at once and performs the calculations in one fell swoop. At least that is how the UDFs that I created work. When I did the time test it was much faster that way. Maybe I'll go back and check to make sure my work is right, but that's what I did.

    When I work with array formulas I get a full column of data then work on that column and return a full column of data all at once. Which has shown to be much faster than the alternative.

    Anyone have special insights on this?

  2. PremSivakanthan says:

    wow..! thats a pretty impressive list, some real gems in there. I read somewhere the other day that spreadsheet development should be 80% planning and 20% implementation - taking the time to think about layout, how you're going to calculate things and how to structure the data often results in a lot less headaches, and more time for deeper analysis...

  3. Prasad DN says:

    Hi Chandoo...

    Mixed feeling about this article, while I completely agree with you when you share everyone's points under their name giving credit to contributors, but at the same time I see alot of repeated tips and few those may not be applicable under all cases. (I may have sounded harsh). Some kind of sorting of tips were required than mere 3 categorization. (Tough ask, I know). Some really worthy and awesome tips get lost in occean.

    I would have been happy to read only non repititive tips and more like standard chandoo articles.

    Well, I have also got two tips (may get lost in the list above), which is not presented above:
    1. When using too many pivots - Disable data drilling option. This reduces file size, cache memory and speeds up file.
    2. If your macro has used too many files for gathering input, close the file and open. This is also release or kill unwanted space in memory and speeds up. Again this can be achieved by macro to close self file and reopen same file, using timer function.

    Please do not count me negative.

    Prasad DN

  4. Karan Kamdar says:

    Hey, one thing that really speeds up VBA processing of data is to extract ranges into arrays & then working on those arrays. Arrays are a lot faster than using cell offset or any other method for working with a database. After you are done you can also paste the value directly into the range with one single command. This will speed up the macros considerably.
    Here is a msdn article with examples in it:

    Hope this helps

  5. John Hackwood says:

    oops, noticed a typo in the tip I posted:

    Re directly assigning values in VBA rather than copying & pasting should have read:

    Sheet2.Range( "B1:B200 ").Value= Sheet1.Range( "A1:A200 ").Value

    Sheet2.Range( "B1:B200 ").Value= Sheet1.Range( "A1:A100 ").Value

  6. [...] posts on speeding up Excel worksheets, one of the posts focuses on formulas and another he let the general readers make their suggestions. I made the suggestion that people use array formulas. But most of the other suggestions said not [...]

  7. Jon says:

    OK, I tested it. My UDFs were faster as array functions (like a couple thousand times). But Excel's built in functions are faster when not doing arrays. Not sure this is the case for all situations.

  8. I can't help but to speak up.

    Deleting a PivotTable will not speed up your workbook. It will only reduce the file size. There is zero memory processing for a pivot table if it just sits there.

    Instead of destroying the pivot table, why not remove the redundant raw data. That would equally reduce the file size of the workbook, while keeping the pivot table functionality.


  9. Ranjitkumar says:

    Thanks a lot guys for your valuable tips !!

    It really worked for me

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
    Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic 

  10. Anthony says:

    Optimizing Speed using Pivot Tables:
    If you find that Pivot Tables are becoming sluggish becomes of the sheer volume of tables there is a way to increase performance.  By default (xls 2010) pivot tables are designed to autofit the data within the columns as well as preserving formatting.  I discovered that unchecking these two options alone will exponentially increase performance.
    Here's how to do it:
    Right click on your pivot table(s) --->choose 'Pivot Table Options' -->Layout & Format' Tab  --->uncheck two boxes at the bottom.  Done!

  11. JoeB says:

    here is my list:
    1.    Avoid Variants when possible
    2.    Use long instead of integer
    3.    Use double instead of single
    4.    Use booleans as much as possible
    5.    pull data into arrays, manipulate, then dump back to workbook
    6.    use .value2 instead of .value if you are looking at strings or numeric values
    7.    set object variables
    dim Wks as Excel.Worksheet
    set wks = thisworkbook.Sheets("Sheet1")
    8.    use with statements...
            with wks.cells(x,y)
                .value2 = "abcd"
                with .font
                    .size =20
            end with
    9.    use string version of functions (Left$() instead of Left())
    10.    Test for empty string variables with len() or lenb()...if lenb(String1)=0 then
    11.    Use the Mid$() function if it is possible instead of split()
    12.    use the join$() function instead of concatenating strings
    13.    AscW() to evaluate first characters
    14.    combine if statements and booleans together
                 boolean = (lenb(String1) = 0)
    16.    InStr(), InStrB(), InStrRev() are very fast, InStr() can be used to quickly return a substring occurrence of a string
    17.    DICTIONARIES!!!!!!!!!!!
    18.    FileSystemObject
    19.    My machine runs slightly faster when i fill in all the inputs of a function (instead of InStrB(String1, "abcd"), i use (InStrB(1,String1,"abcd",vbBinaryCompare)
    20. Short Circuit If statements: If x = 2 then if y >3 then if z = 5 then b=true or
    if x=2 then
        if y >3 then
            if z=5 then
            end if
        end if
    end if
    21.    use ElseIf
    22.    my testing indicates ElseIf is slightly faster than a Case Select
    23.    set strings to empty by: = vbnullstring
    24.    with application
                .screenupdating = false
                .displayalerts = false
                .enableevents = false
            end with
    25.    UserForms can be very beneficial
    26.    User-Defined Types are a very neat way to encapsulate data
    27.    User-Defined Functions are handy, but can increase run-time if called thousands of times
    28.    if using ElseIfs, nested And Ifs or Select Case statements, put the argument that will occur most frequently at the beginning
    29.    Looping is not the worst thing...just got to figure out how to do it the most efficiently
    30.    Use dynamic arrays instead of static arrays
    31.    if you can figure out Win32 APIs, then they are usually much faster than VBA functions

  12. Fredrik says:

    I worked on a massive spreadsheet and it had become very slow over time as I developed it. I tried stripping down more and more formulas by replacing with pasted values, removed all conditional formatting etc. In the end what finally did the trick was when I removed the last single SUMPRODUCT fomula. It changed the updating time after one change from 7-8 seconds to instantaneously. The SUMPRODUCT I had used the full columns, and if I put it to only look at rows 1-500 it was fine. 

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  14. Vijaykumar Shetye says:


    (1) Instead of writing a lot of formulas to organise data, you can VLOOKUP() the data in a Pivot table, thereby combining the advantages of Pivot table and VOOKUP().
    (2) If you have a range named ‘TotalTaxForTheCurrentFinancialYear’, then it is not compulsory to use this name when making the worksheet. Naming the range as ‘Tax’ or simply ‘T’ will be sufficient. The formula =SUM(T) will be shorter and easier to use.
    After completing typing all the formulas, simply edit the name of the range from ‘T’ to ‘TotalTaxForTheCurrentFinancialYear’, in the name box. The formula =SUM(T) will automatically change to =SUM(TotalTaxForTheCurrentFinancialYear).

    Vijaykumar Shetye, India

  15. Jim Lyons says:

    I don't write many macros and like most of you when doing a recalculation it sometimes takes forever. 
    I have found that when I looked at my spreadsheet, I could determine which order of calcuations (by column) would produce the least number of iterations. So I wrote a macro to do my calculations on my terms.  I picked the order of the columns I wanted to calcuate and it sped up my recalc 5-10X.
    I did this so long ago, I believe I used "expression .Calculate".

  16. Vijaykumar Shetye says:

    TIPS TO SPEED UP EXCEL by Vijaykumar Shetye, India
    You can view all the formulas in the entire worksheet quickly by pressing [ctrl] and [~] keys simultaneously.
    To view results, press the key combination again.

  17. sajjad says:

    i need help about excle lerning and reports making with dash bord i have no facility to join the on classes.

  18. Is there any command to get time with seconds
    Is there any way to create an excel file for specific time period, afterwards it will not open

  19. [...] are looking for , but give it a try : Optimize Slow VBA Code. Speed Up Efficient VBA Code/Macros 75 Excel Speeding up Tips - How to speed-up & optimize slow Excel workbooks? | Chandoo.org - Lea... [...]

  20. Reuben says:

    I've had to do a lot of mass calculations for reports etc. that involved repetitive identical, yet complex formulae, which took forever...
    I hit on a great time-saver: sort the spreadsheet data; if, for example, the same result was due to a lookup of Hotel Name (A column), Date (B column), and Room Type (F column), the formula (Z column) would be: "=IF(A2&B2&F2=A1&B1&F1,Z1,VLOOKUP(A2&B2&F2,LookUps!A:G,7,FALSE))".
    This meant that if the result is the same as the row above, just use the same answer, thus saving loads of time instead of VLOOKUPs. (This is a simplified example, the actual one had INDIRECT(ADDRESS...) in it, too!)

  21. Sam says:

    Check files for invalid range names, invalid links and names that aren't needed any longer.

    Clearing out some 200 old references in a template made the file open go from 30 seconds to 2.

  22. MOhan says:

    You can improve the speed by stopping calculation during changing cell value and after that you can enable it. please follow the link.

  23. […] 75 Excel Speeding Tips Its a long List, many repeated but worth a visit. […]

  24. […] Are you opening slow excel files?  Use this reference to speed up your excel sheets […]

  25. Karl Mavadia says:

    If you want to highlight the content or result within a cell with colour, use content colour not cell fill colour. This make a large data sheet fast as full colour takes up more resource.

  26. GraH says:

    There are already so many useful replies, so don't be mad at me if I repeat someone with the following hints.
    While using pivot tables:
    1. Link (raw) data from external files, rather then building pivots in the same workbook of the data. => Reduces file size.
    2. don't flag "keep source data" in pivot settings. => reduces cache.
    Downside is when you want to use slicers, you must allow refresh of the source data and thus people need access to that file.

    One extra when using tables above ranges: replace the table header references by cell references in heavy duty formulas. I'm not sure but it seems to be faster and lighter (in #MBs).

  27. reza says:

    iam student and need xloptimizer( no demo) for solving the mathematical model
    can you help me
    thanks alot

  28. himanshu parekh says:

    Dear Sir,

    Thanks a lot for sharing tips & tricks of excel....

    I read it , understand it and then use it in job and that has helped me a lot....

    Thanks a lot...

    Mumbai, India.

  29. Steven Hawksworth says:

    In VBA, send out values to the worksheet all together as an array then excel will only re-calculate once rather than each time a cell that is output.

  30. Andy Automation says:

    to the guy who said avoid looping in VBA - easier said than done, it's one of the most powerful uses for VBA out there. I'd therefore recomend the half way house and break the loop as soon as you've got what you want, don't let it run until the end. Use While etc.

    What I would say on VBA in general is minimise sheet to code interations. Suck all your data into a VBA array THEN do the maths don't use cells themselves as stand alone visual variables.

    And to the lady who said it's faster offline - that's because Microsoft are constantly contacting their own website be it security verification and/or update checks

  31. BeeHouseWV says:

    Apply some logic to the order of criteria in sumifs / countifs formula

    order the most exclusive criteria first. Once one criteria fails the others do not execute.

    Bing AI, given the following query, confirms this: "excel countifs. if one criteria is likely to exclude most of the data range then should this criteria go first in the list to prevent frivilous executions".

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