What is Excel Used for?
Microsoft Excel is one of the most powerful business reporting tools. Those of you who don’t use Excel regularly might be unaware of just how much Excel can actually do. One of Excel’s greatest advantages is its versatility. If you have ever encountered a situation where you need to perform a manual operation, you can do it automatically using Excel automation. Even just by making sense of some essential Excel formulas, features and functions you can begin to discover so much about your data that isn’t as obvious as you would think.
Excel Reporting Tips
XL Intelligence offer insights into how to use Excel at an advanced level, that extend further than merely, for example, how to create a dashboard. Although we do cover that aspect in our Microsoft Excel courses, there is still so much more you can learn about Excel, from advanced chart formatting to one and two-variable data tables. If you’re wanting to discover how one set of your data affects the other, and to set up your spreadsheet to display the data through Pivot Tables or Power Pivot, then a Microsoft specialist course might be for you.
But for the purposes of working more efficiently, we’d like to take this time to recommend some Excel reporting tips, which will hopefully prove insightful and valuable as you begin to use Excel more frequently.
Excel Tools & Features
Larger data sets will typically have duplicated content somewhere in a spreadsheet. In cases where you want to see specific information, removing duplicates comes in handy. After highlighting the row or column and selecting this option, you’ll be presented with the amounts of duplicates found within your range.
Pivot Tables are designed to help you summarise, analyse and explore spreadsheet data, for comparisons, patterns and trends. Even with tables that have thousands of rows, Pivot Tables allow you to extract answers to questions about your data, with very little effort, while keeping the data intact.
This feature allows you to change the format of cells based on specific criteria. If you want to colour code between different rows and columns, flag certain numbers above a certain value or apply rules to cells that display specific text, this is all possible with the Conditional Formatting window. You can read more about conditional formatting in our blog here.
Data validation is used in Excel to control what a user can enter into a cell, an example of which is creating a drop-down list. Learning how to create a drop-down list in Excel is really beneficial when tracking processes, and saves time repetitively adding more information. Highlighting the cells you want the drop-downs to be in, clicking the Data menu, then pressing Validation will bring a Data Validation Settings box up on your screen. Look at the Allow option, click “Lists” and select “Drop-Down List”. Select the In-Cell drop-down button and you have a drop-down list in your spreadsheet.
Did you know?
You can combine text with the ‘&’ symbol. If you have multiple columns with different text, you can combine them into one string. Simply enter the ‘=’ sign, select the cells to add, with the ‘&’ separating each cell address. Pressing ‘Enter’ will combine all the information together for you.
Key Excel Functions
One key Excel function that helps with generating reports is VLOOKUP. The VLOOKUP function allows you to look and search for information in a spreadsheet. Building dashboards in Excel won’t do you any good if you can’t manage your data models. The purpose of VLOOKUP is to find a specific value from a column, where the leftmost row value matches certain criteria. VLOOKUP can help associating appropriate product numbers to names. There are several variables to consider as well as the Lookup Value, such as the Table Array, Column Number and Range Lookup. Sometimes you may find yourself creating reports in Excel of varying complexities, by using VLOOKUP you can simplify that process.
This function allows you to filter a range of data based on criteria that you have defined. The function allows you to easily extract matching records from a larger set of source data based on the criteria you provide. The beauty about the FILTER function is that the results are dynamic. When values in the source data change, or the range is amended, the results from the FILTER function will update automatically. The FILTER function is currently not generally available, but this function will be released in an upcoming update for Office 365.
The IF function is very popular in Excel and allows you to make logical comparisons between a value and what you expect from that value. IF statements enable users to administer logic in specific cells. If you are tallying an amount of phone calls, for example, displayed in a column, along with the period of time that a caller waited for an answer, you can use an IF statement to determine the number of calls answered within a designated time. The IF statement will deliver a True or a False statement based on certain criteria.
Looking for Advanced Excel Training?
If you want to master all Advanced Excel skills possible, why not consider our Excel training courses? Users now have immense data analysis and business intelligence capabilities with all different kinds of Microsoft Office programs like Power BI as well as Excel. Our trainers will use their real-life experience to teach you how you can intuitively apply these programs to your business and your roles.
Our trainers will give you the skills necessary to maximise Excel features, formulas and tools regarding business intelligence and data visualisation to give you greater control over your data. Download our Advanced Excel course material here