All articles in 'Learn Excel' Category

VLOOKUP that fat table with ease [3 quick tips]

Published on Sep 18, 2017 in Learn Excel
VLOOKUP that fat table with ease [3 quick tips]

Time for some good, old fashioned VLOOKUP love. Let’s say you are writing VLOOKUP()s to get data from an unusually fat table, ie one with heaps of columns. You want to get to lookup ID in first column and get thingamajig in what is that column number. Well, better get counting from 1 and after 19 seconds and lots of squinting you arrive at column number 53 – which has thingamajig. 

If this sounds like your VLOOKUP routine, check out these three amazingly simple tips to save some time and effort with your lookups.

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Copy Paste Visible Cells only (Two more ways to do it)

Published on Aug 28, 2017 in Excel Howtos, Keyboard Shortcuts, Learn Excel
Copy Paste Visible Cells only (Two more ways to do it)

Last week, we talked about how to copy and paste visible cells alone (ie exclude any filtered rows or hidden columns etc.) In the comments section many of you suggested two more ways to deal with this annoying problem. Let’s take a look them.

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Copy & paste visible cells only [Excel Trick]

Published on Aug 24, 2017 in Keyboard Shortcuts, Learn Excel
Copy & paste visible cells only [Excel Trick]

Here is something annoying with Excel.

Open any Excel file with few columns of data. Hide some of those columns (select the columns and press CTRL+0). Now, copy a few rows of data. Paste it else where. Excel will paste the values in hidden columns too. We thought Excel would omit the values in hidden columns.

What the filter Excel?!? I thought we were friends, but you annoy me with some of these quirks.

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SUMPRODUCT Vs. Power Query on Mt. KauKau

Published on Jun 15, 2017 in Learn Excel, Power Query
SUMPRODUCT Vs. Power Query on Mt. KauKau

When faced with tough problems I react in one of three ways

  1. Come up with ingenious solutions
  2. See if a simpler cheat solution is possible
  3. Sit back and ignore

For most problems, I choose 3rd reaction. Occasionally, I rely on 2nd option and very rarely the first one.

When faced with a tricky time sheet summary problem (as outlined above), after initial lethargy I wanted to solve it.

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Avoid Hiring Boo-boos with Excel – COUNTIFS for the win [video]

Published on Apr 26, 2017 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
Avoid Hiring Boo-boos with Excel – COUNTIFS for the win [video]

Imagine you are head of human resources at Casual Contracting Co. Every month you hire a lot of temporary staff who spend 1-4 months with CCC before leaving. Sometimes you hire the same people again. Of late, you have noticed a strange process gap. You are paying same person two (or more) salaries.

This is because you are hiring a person for new temp role even before their current one ended. See above picture.

So how to avoid making such hiring boo-boos.

Simple, using Excel of course.

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Relative References in Excel Tables

Published on Apr 21, 2017 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
Relative References in Excel Tables

Excel Tables have been around for a decade now (they are introduced in Excel 2007), and yet, very few people use them. They are versatile, easy and elegant. At Chandoo.org, we celebrate Tables all the time. If you have never used them, start with below tuts.

While tables are super helpful, they do come with some limitations. Today let’s examine one such unique problem and learn about an elegant solution.

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Reshaping your data easily – Case study [Pivot tables FTW]

Published on Mar 16, 2017 in Learn Excel, Pivot Tables & Charts
Reshaping your data easily – Case study [Pivot tables FTW]

Late. Jayaram, my uncle is also a teacher. When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time with him, learning all sorts of things. He taught me chess, maths and so many life lessons. I remember one such lesson very vividly.  One day, he asked me to do something. I did it in a very long way. After seeing me struggle for several minutes, he chipped in and showed me how to do it easily. He then said, “when someone asks you where your nose is, you don’t twist arm around your head. You just point to your nose directly.”

The idea is that when you have a direct, simple way to do something, you should use it.

Nose and pivot tables… how are they connected?

We are coming to the point. Read on for full case study and solution.

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Use CTRL to make copies of worksheets quickly

Published on Feb 15, 2017 in Keyboard Shortcuts, Learn Excel
Use CTRL to make copies of worksheets quickly

The other day, I found myself making copies of a templated report worksheet. After trying the usual route of “right click on source sheet, select move or copy, check create a copy and press OK” a few times, I thought “well that is asinine.” So I figured, may be CTRL+Drag will create a copy. And what do you know, it does.

So that is our quick tip for the day. Whenever you need to make a copy of something, simply hold CTRL key and drag the thing.

It works for charts, drawing shapes, worksheets and even ranges.

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Designing awesome financial metrics dashboard [tutorial]

Designing awesome financial metrics dashboard [tutorial]

In this amazing guest post, the winner of our 2016 dashboard contest – Chandeep – Explains how he constructed the jaw dropping beauty (shown above) using Excel, creativity, love and sweat. Grab a full cup of coffee (or whatever liquid fancies you) and read on. Take lots of notes and play with the ideas in Excel while reading to maximize your learning.

Thanks Chandeep.

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Road Trip Planner Template [Excel Downloads]

Published on Feb 1, 2017 in Learn Excel
Road Trip Planner Template [Excel Downloads]

We recently went on a road trip around parts of New Zealand’s north island. We have been to Taupo, Rotorua, East Cape and Napier. It took us 2 weeks, we drove more than 2,000 km and spent almost NZ $3,000 on the trip. Of course, being a data nerd, I made a plan of the trip in Excel and that helped us budget for this.

After getting back to home, I thought it would be fun to polish the planner workbook and share it with you all so you too can plan a fabulous road trip. So here we go.

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Get rid of that ugly formatting with two simple tricks

Published on Jan 18, 2017 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
Get rid of that ugly formatting with two simple tricks

We are on a tiki tour around NZ. So far we have been to Taupo & Rotorua. And we are doing what you do when you are on a holiday – being lazy, going on walks, swimming in lakes, eating copious amounts of food and getting lost. Of course, all this means, I have very little time to access to internet & my blog. So the updates will be slow for next two weeks. Here is a quick tip (well, two of them) to keep you busy and awesome.

How to remove ugly formatting from your workbooks?

Do you have a colleague or boss (shudder) that loves to apply their special touches to every workbook their mouse lands on? Do you constantly wince and whine when you have to work on that spreadsheet.

Here are two handy ways to restore your data to its original glory.

Clear formats:

Simple, select the data you want formatting gone from, go to Home > Clear > Formats.

And Excel will weave an expelliformat spell at your data and make it clean.

Here is a quick demo.

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Untrimmable Spaces – Excel Formula

Published on Jan 12, 2017 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel
Untrimmable Spaces – Excel Formula

Let’s talk about the untrimmable spaces.

We all know that TRIM() removes extra spaces from the beginning, ending and middle of a text.

So for example, if A1 has ” something and    one   more    ”

TRIM(A1)

will give “something and one more”

We can use CLEAN() function to remove non-printable characters (like the ASCII codes 0 to 31).  Of course, SPACE is technically a printable character, so CLEAN() won’t remove spaces.

The untrimmable spaces…?

The other day Sreekanth emailed me a sample of data and asked, “how do I remove the spaces in this list and convert them to numbers?”

Naturally I tried to TRIM().

But the data won’t budge. See above.

Hmm, let’s investigate why.

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An odd lookup problem [Formulas]

Published on Dec 6, 2016 in Excel Challenges, Learn Excel
An odd lookup problem [Formulas]

Let’s say you have some employee data in employee name, manager name format. But the data is all in one column, with odd rows containing employee names & even rows containing manager names. Something like above.

And you want to find out who is the boss for a given employee. Say, “Andrea Nichols”.

Your regular MATCH() formula for Andrea over the data range returns wrong answer as it will find first occurrence of Andrea (which in this case happens to be on even row, hence a manager record).

So how would you write the lookup formula?

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Finding the closest school [formula vs. pivot table approach]

Published on Nov 18, 2016 in Excel Howtos, Learn Excel, Pivot Tables & Charts
Finding the closest school [formula vs. pivot table approach]

First a quick personal update: There has been a magnitude 7.8 earth quake in NZ on 14th November 2016 early morning. It is centered in Kaikoura, which is about 250 km away from Wellington. We did feel several shakes and after shocks. It has been an interesting and often scary experience. But my family is safe. I feel very sad for the all the damage and the loss for families in NZ. If you suffered from this quake, My prayers and thoughts are with you.

Yesterday, a friend asked me an interesting question. He has school distance data, like above. He wants to know which is the closest school for each school.

There are a few ways to answer this question. Let’s examine two approaches – formulas & pivot tables and see the merits of both.

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Can you solve this blood pressure problem? [IF Formula Homework]

Published on Nov 4, 2016 in Formula Challenges, Learn Excel
Can you solve this blood pressure problem? [IF Formula Homework]

Over on Facebook, Kristin asks, Help, my blood pressure is going thru the roof. I can’t seem to solve this blood pressure problem. 

Let’s simplify Kristin’s problem.

You have some data in the format shown above.

And you want to find out the BP category for each reading, using some rules. Read on to solve the problem.

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