Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks – Excel Ninja Edition

Last week we saw a number of Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks supplied by Microsoft Excel MVP’s.

This week I have invited the Chandoo.org, Excel ninjas to contribute their Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks.

Chandoo has Excel ninjas?

Do they have swords?
No (sigh)

But you can read all about them here: Chandoo.org Excel ninjas

The Chandoo.org Excel ninjas have solved in excess of 63,000 Excel questions in the 7 years that Chandoo.org Forums have been active. Hence they are imminently qualified in all areas Excel and as such the tips and tricks they will share will be essential reading.

Lets go:

001. Find & Replace Hack No.1 – Shrivallabha

You can use CTRL+J to simulate the Enter character in “Find and Replace” or “Text to Columns” fields.

Download the sample file here: Download sample file
Cells B2:B4 contain text with multiple lines per cell
There is an invisible Enter Character in those cells that can be added via use of Ctrl+J or Alt+Enter as the data is entered

To seperate each line please follow these instructions
Select B2:B4

Goto the Data, Text to Columns tab

Select Delimited


Select Other and Type Ctrl+J in the adjacent box



Change the Destination to D2





Contribution by: Shrivallabha


002. Find & Replace Hack No.2 – Shrivallabha

Using escape character ~(tilde) while replacing *(asterisk) from text in the Find and Replace box.
If someone does Find and Replace * directly then everything gets replaced as * acts as wildcard.

So you have to use ~* for replacing an asterisk * character in a string.

Contribution by: Shrivallabha


003. Select All – Shrivallabha

You can use the Select All Shortcut Ctrl + A to select all items listed below

  • Items in a List
  • Contiguous Cells in a Range
  • All cells in a worksheet, press Ctrl + A twice
  • All shapes, Select first shape, then press Ctrl + A

Contribution by: Shrivallabha


004. Apply a filter to the first row of a range – Shrivallabha

Apply a filter to the first row of a range

Select any cell in a range

ALT D + F + F (Applies filter to first row of the cells contiguous with the current cell)

Contribution by: Shrivallabha


005. Fill Blank cells with the value in the cell above – Asheesh

  1. Select the range that contains blank cells you need to fill.
  2. Click Home > Find & Select > Go To Special…, and a Go To Special dialog box will appear, then check Blanks option.
  3. Click OK, and all of the blank cells have been selected.
  4. Assume that the Top Left Blank cell is A3, then input the formula =A2  into active cell A3 without changing the selection.
  5. Press Ctrl + Enter, Excel will copy the respective formula to all blank cells.
  6. At this point, the filled contents are formulas, and we need to convert the formals to values.
  7. Select the whole range, copy it Ctrl + C, and then press Ctrl + Alt + V to active the Paste Special… dialog box. Then select Values option from Paste, and select None option from Operation.

Contribution by: Asheesh


006. Multiple Consolidation Ranges to Pivot table – Asheesh

You can use “Multiple Consolidation Ranges” of Pivot Table to generate a unique list from Multiple Sources.

Goto the worksheet where your data lists are

To achieve this you need to add the Pivot Chart Wizard to either the QAT or Tab Bar

Start the Pivot Table Wizard or use the Keyboard Shortcut ALT + D P

Select Multiple Consolidation Ranges then click Next


Select Create a single page field for me and Next


Select your data range, including a blank leading column and then click Add button.


Notice: As per the excel file A1:A7 is blank.The Data is in Columns B:D.

Had this not been the case then we needed to insert a new blank column at the left of the data and that is Column A in this example

Click on Finish button

You will have a table like the one in the below image in a new worksheet.


Now go the Pivot Table Field options and do the following


You should have a unique list of values


You can Right Click on the Grand Total and DeSelect Grand Total to remove the Grand Total if required

You can now use this list in a Named Formula, Data Validation, Chart or other use where the required Unique List is required.


Note: If the Source Data changes you will need to Right Click on the List and select Refresh Data

Refer to the attached file: Download Sample File


Hui, in his second post at Chandoo.org, actually wrote about this technique in Feb 2010 but using a Single List – Read it here

Contribution by: Asheesh


007. Hiding Rows that are blank – Faseeh

Hiding Rows that are blank.

I have a sheet on daily basis in which certain cells in a column are blank I want to hide the rows with those blank cells.

What I do is…

  1. Select the cell range (the column).
  2. Press F5, you will get the Go To Menu.
  3. Check the option Blank.
  4. Press Ctrl+9 to hide the selected range.

Contribution by: Faseeh


008. Hiding Rows that are blank – Faseeh

To use the subtotal function to get the serial number right is the one that my accounts department loves. They were tired of creating commercial invoices with serial number created by dragging manually.
Here is the procedure.

Serial Number list that do not change with Filter
Assume you want to enter serial in column A and your data is present in column B. The formula look like this: =SUBTOTAL(3,$B$4:B4)
Drag downward. (This is only one time drag). Now if you filter the list the serial number will be changed accordingly.

Contribution by: Faseeh


009. Slab Rate Formula – Faseeh

This is a formula for slab rate that gives total price for a quantity with given slab rate.


So we want the price for 2,000 items

The first 1,000 will cost 0.35, the second 1,000 will cost 0.33

The total cost is found by =SUMPRODUCT((E3>=A3:A5)*(E3-A3:A5)*(B3:B5-B2:B4))

Download a sample file here: Download Sample File

Contribution by: Faseeh


010. Navigation tricks to get around spreadsheet faster – Luke M

Use Ctrl+Arrow key to jump to end of range.
Use Ctrl+Shift+Arrow key to select all data to end of range

Contribution by: Luke M
If you’d like to hire Luke for an Excel project, contact him at:


011. Select Visible Cells in a Filtered range – Luke M

When dealing with filtered ranges:
Use Alt+; to select visible cells only

Contribution by: Luke M
If you’d like to hire Luke for an Excel project, contact him at:


012. QAT – The Quick Access Toolbar; Shortcuts – Luke M

I’ve seen many users who don’t know about, or use the the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) very well.
Everyone has a list of things they use often. Put these on the QAT to improve your efficiency.

My favorite thing is that all items on the QAT get auto-assigned shortcuts of Alt+[1-9].

On my system, I have Paste Values and Paste Formulas in the 2nd and 3rd slots, so I can easily do those by hitting Alt+2 or Alt+3.

Press Alt +

   1   2   3   4   5   6   7    8    9


Contribution by: Luke M
If you’d like to hire Luke for an Excel project, contact him at:


013. Keyboard Shortcuts – Marc L

Insert Current Date

Insert current date in a cell : Ctrl + ;

Insert Current Time

Insert current time in a cell : Ctrl + :

Bulk enter values or formula into several cells

To allocate same Value or Formula to several cells, Select the cells, enter the Value or Formula and

accept into all cells by Ctrl + Enter 

Date Check also known as Toggle Values/Formula Mode

Ctrl + ~ (English keyboard) or Ctrl + “ (3 on a French keyboard)

Is a toggle between displaying formulas or values in cells.
But I use it as a trick to check if dates are real dates and not text :
When displaying formulas is active, real dates appear as number,
bad dates remain as text !

This is the reason why I won all by bets against guys who insisted

Contribution by: Marc L


014. Break Strings into Words – Hui

A regular requirement in VBA is to be able to extract say the Name and Surnames from a string

Eg: Retrieve “Ian” & “Huitson” from “Ian David Huitson”


But what if I want the Middle Name, or what if I have two middle names like my children do?

These functions quickly become very cumbersome

A technique I recently learned  simplifies this, whilst extending it to other delimiters and any number of sub-strings

You can easily parse a delimited string into an array.

You simply use the Split function with the appropriate delimiter as parameter.

The following code shows an example of using the Split function.


The above code makes an array of values of size 3, Arr(0) to arr(2)

arr(0) will contain “Ian”

arr(1) will contain “David”

arr(2) will contain “Huitson”

If you are unsure of the number of array elements you should use the Ubound() function to determine the size

Ubound(arr,1) which will return the reference number of the last element = 2 in the example

in the example of my Name which has 3 elements

arr(2) = arr(Ubound(arr,1)) and each will contain the string “Huitson”

You can download both the above sample from this sample file

I picked this up a few months back from Excel Mastery, my new favorite Excel VBA site

Contribution by: Hui


015. Use the Camera Tool – BobHC

You can sue the Camera Tool to setup dashboards that quickly combine data from a number of worksheets into a common location

Read about its use: http://chandoo.org/wp/2008/12/02/excel-camera-tool-help/

And for fancy applications: http://www.addictivetips.com/microsoft-office/camera-tool-function-in-excel-2010/

Contribution by: BobHC



Many many thanks to the Chandoo.org ninjas who contributed above.

I hope you get to to revue all the tips and pass comments and appreciation back to the authors as appropriate.

Next week I have to do some real paid work and will travelling in Timor, Indonesia, but in two weeks time the Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks theme will continue with the Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks – Notable Excel Sites (non-MVP) Edition, so keep an eye out for that.

If you have any Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks that you would like to share with the community, please leave  a tip in the comments below.

All the user contributions will be combined into one final post: Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks – Users Edition


Hello Awesome...

My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Visit Excel for Beginner or Advanced Excel pages to learn more or join my online video class to master Excel.

Thank you and see you around.

Written by Hui...

Home: Chandoo.org Main Page
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19 Responses to “Excel Tips, Tricks, Cheats & Hacks – Excel Ninja Edition”

  1. chirayu says:

    There are a lot of shortcuts
    Hide columns - CTRL + 0
    Apply Filter (alternative) - SHIFT + CTRL + L
    Clear Filter - ALT + D + F + S
    Drag Down - CTRL + D
    Drag Right - CTRL + R
    Drag Up - ALT + E + I + U
    Drag Left - ALT + E + I + L
    Value Paste - ALT + E + S + V
    Format Paste - ALT + E + S + T

  2. Chris says:

    I think the table set-up in #9 is incorrect. The price of 1,001 items should be $350.00 (1,000 @ $.35) plus $.33 (1 @ $.33), a total of $35.33. The spreadsheet calculates the total as $350.35.

    If the amounts in the quantity column are changed to 1,000 and 5,000, the calculation is correct.

  3. Jomili says:

    Cool tips, but I don't understand the very first one. Why would you want to "Find and Replace" the Enter character, and what IS the Enter character?

    • Hui... says:

      The Enter character is the equivalent of a Carriage Return Char(13) and Line Feed Char(10) which originated in the old Manual Typewriter days

      As invisible codes, they are often imported with text or other files which have been dumped from systems
      They are still used even in text files to tell the system to start a new line

      Even in Excel, you can enter text on multiple lines in a cell using an Enter (Ctrl J) to force the Line Feed

      There are times where you actually don't want to start a new line
      and so Search/Replace for Enter is Required

      • Liz says:

        I agree with Jomili, that this first hack is hard to understand. Thank you for providing further information, which makes it more understandable. However, it might be nice to provide a more robust example for this one. As I think it is helpful, but still don't understand how to implement it. Thank you for this and for all the great hacks.

    • Hui... says:

      @Jomili, Liz

      I have added a fully worked example and sample file to Tip 001 above
      Please review

      I hope this clears up the confusion

  4. Wyn Hopkins says:

    My favourite trick is using Autocorrect to help write INDEX MATCH formulas..

    Copy this into Autocorrect and then use iii as the text to replace

    =INDEX( DblClk_to_Select_Column_to_return, MATCH( DblClk_Single_Lookup_Cell, DblClk_Lookup_Column, 0),0)

    This way whenever you need INDEX MATCH you just type iii and autocorrect kicks in and you are 3 double clicks away from a robust formula.


  5. RobD says:

    (note: I did not write this and have since lost the source)

    I love this site, thought I would try and contribute something to return value.

    When building pivot tables, it helps to have a full column of like values, so if you have a set up such as:

    A B C
    1 X B C
    2 B C
    3 B C
    4 Y B C
    5 B C
    6 B C

    Use this handy VBA

    Sub FillBlanks()
    Dim Area As Range, LastRow As Long
    Dim MyCol As String
    MyCol = "A"
    On Error Resume Next
    LastRow = Cells.Find(What:="*", SearchOrder:=xlRows, _
    SearchDirection:=xlPrevious, LookIn:=xlFormulas).Row
    For Each Area In Columns(MyCol).Resize(LastRow). _
    Area.Value = Area(1).Offset(-1).Value
    End Sub

    'Change the MyCol value to match your value


    A B C
    1 X B C
    2 X B C
    3 X B C
    4 Y B C
    5 Y B C
    6 Y B C

    • jomili says:

      A more robust solution to filling blanks:

      Sub FillBlanks()
      ' Purpose : Fills blanks with value above

      Dim Response As Integer
      Dim oRng As Range
      Set oRng = Selection

      'Check for Rangesize
      If Application.Run("RangeCheck") = True Then
      MsgBox "You've selected an entire Row or Column." & vbCrLf & _
      "Please select a section of a single column range to check.", vbCritical, "Range Too Large to Process"
      If Selection.Count = 1 Then
      MsgBox "You need to select the range you want to fill," & vbCrLf & _
      "from first populated cell to the last empty cell", vbOKOnly, "Help from John"
      oRng.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeBlanks).FormulaR1C1 = "=R[-1]C"
      Response = MsgBox("The cells have been filled with formulas." & vbCrLf & _
      "Do you wish to convert them to Values?", vbYesNo + vbQuestion, "Help from John")

      If Response = vbYes Then
      oRng.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlValues, Operation:=xlNone, _
      SkipBlanks:=False, Transpose:=False
      End If
      End If
      End If
      End Sub

      Private Function RangeCheck()
      RangeCheck = False
      'Check for Rangesize-Used in MULTIPLE Macros
      If Selection.Columns.Count = ActiveSheet.Columns.Count Or Selection.Rows.Count = ActiveSheet.Rows.Count Then
      RangeCheck = True
      End If
      End Function

  6. Khalid NGO says:

    Hi to all,

    Very interesting tips and tricks, Thanks Hui.
    And thanks to all our great ninjas.



  7. Ian Watkins says:

    Further to tip 12, if I'm doing a lot of pasting values/formulas then I will also assign Copy to the QAT, in position 1.
    Instead of doing a big move of my hand from Ctrl+C to Alt+2, I can just move a finger from Alt+1 to Alt +2.
    Speeds things up quite a bit!

  8. Shriram R says:

    In vlookup functions where successive rows / columns need to be filled with using auto increment columns I have found use of Row() or Column() to be useful as a datatype to generate autoincrement number when formula is copied from one cell to the next adjacent cell.

  9. 1. Most of the accountants format the numbers into Comma Style (accounting) and reduce the decimal count. With this, when they copy paste table into PowerPoint, they will see lot of spaces which becomes very cumbersome to format (like font sizes / table auto fit). One way to overcome this is to format with Number and select "(" option to replicate the same of accounting format.
    2. New Excel users think the consolidation of many workbooks is complex and requires lot of time to do. But for the same formatted data (in most of the cases of unit operations), only need is two macros and one formula. There are many macros is available to combining multiple files into one workbook and other macro is to get the sheet names. One formula required is indirect with the help of what all data needs to be consolidated.

  10. Michael says:

    Another great use for Find & Replace:

    Need to restructure your workbook and don't want REF errors or relative references changing?

    Use Find and Replace to Swap out the "=" in all affected formulas with "^" or any other symbol you're not using. Now you can move your formulas and reverse the process, Replacing "^" with "=" to keep everything functional and intact.

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