When creating data input sheets, it is a good idea to use a table layout. Sometimes they can end up looking a little bit busy, especially if you are repeating entries down rows. To help users focus on what they need to do, you can use a little formatting hack to make the layout look a little less cluttered.
One thing you learn quickly about Excel is that there are many ways to achieve the same outcome.
This is another example. In an earlier video I showed two separate ways to convert text numbers into real numbers.
Well, I have just learned another way. An Excel MVP Rick Rothstein shared a third way. I tweaked it and share a keyboard shortcut to do it as well.
Hope you enjoy it.
Added Nov 27, 2021
If you use Text to Columns for other conversion in the same session, you may need to use Alt A E W F as the Delimiter defaults may interfere with the conversion.
Would you like to display a pop-up message when a user enters a value into a cell? You don’t need a macro to achieve this.
I posted recently about how you can amend a custom list to change the sequence of a slicer – read it here. Here is another tweak I learned from Mr Excel (Bill Jelen).
Dynamic arrays allow you to use a function normally built to handle a cell, with a range of cells. The TRIM function can remove extra space characters in cells. So with dynamic arrays it can handle ranges.
Yes, I know you should use Power Query to clean data and I demonstrated how to do that in my previous post. Sometimes it is easier to record a macro because a macro can clean the data in place.
I recently downloaded an example file for an Excel challenge. The challenge had a lot of things to do but they were all based on a Timestamp column that had text instead of times.
The comma format for numbers is pretty popular.
There are a couple of keyboard shortcuts to apply it.
Hold the Ctrl and Shift keys down and press 1 on the keyboard.
The next one uses the Alt key. Use the left Alt key. Keys pressed in sequence (don’t hold them down).
Alt H K
Remember Hong Kong.
The Alt key offers a way to use icons without using the mouse. In some cases, these Alt key shortcuts can be quicker than using the mouse.
Old Macros XL4 macros
If you use the old Excel macro language – known as XL4 macros – you may need to update a setting to keep using them.
This is the macro language before VBA was introduced in the Excel 5 back in the 90’s.
Not many people use these macros any more but there a couple of techniques that they are used for.
Microsoft will soon disable them automatically and you will need to turn them back on if you want to use them.
The setting to update is in the Trust Center Macro settings – see image below.
On LinkedIn recently someone posted an Excel formula solution lamenting that it was long and complex. That of course was a challenge to me to simplify it.
A good teacher does not teach facts, he or she teaches enthusiasm, open-mindedness and values.
The standard budget layout isn’t great for pivot tables. You can easily and quickly convert it in to data using Power Query
See now in this short video.
When you are developing a file for a report, budget or forecast you may need to keep track of certain cells. They could be validations or profits or some other important value. The Watch Window can help you monitor multiple cells in one place.
In the Formulas tab in the Formula Auditing section is the Watch Window icon.
Clicking the icon opens the Watch Window. It will be blank.
You can click the Add Watch button to add a cell to monitor. You can chose cells from any sheet.
Click Add to watch the cell. You can widen the Watch Window and change column widths as well.
You can click the column headings to sort by the column.
You can also select a range to watch. but it will list the range as a series of cells – see images below.
When you save and close the file the watch entries are saved. When you open the file the Watch Window won’t be open, you will have to re-open it.
The shortcut Alt M W (pressed in sequence, not held down) will open the Watch Window. The same shortcut also closes the Watch Window.
If you want to display a blank cell instead of a zero there are two ways to do it.
See both in this short video.
Power Query Shortcut
Have you tried right clicking a formatted table recently?
There is a new option to Get Data from Table/Range – which means to import the table into Power Query so you can data cleanse the table.
Here’s a technique to calculate the time differences when you aren’t sure which time is first or last. Note with standard Excel settings you cannot report negative time.
Do you have a list or lists that you use all the time? Would you like to write the first entry and then drag it like January to get the rest of the list? Here’s how.
20 years ago my last article for the Accountants Weekly magazine was published. They spelled my name wrong after getting it right for all the other articles, maybe that’s why I stopped.
If you have data that has blanks in it you may be able to combine columns using Paste Special – Skip Blanks.
Power Query Zoom
I used this today in a live webinar.
I zoomed into the Power Query window in Excel to make it easier to see.
Ctrl + Shift + + (plus)
20 years ago I had an article published on Excel shortcuts keys – let’s revisit it.
When you are working with text numbers in tables sometimes you need to convert real numbers into text numbers to do look ups.
There are at least two ways to do this.
Let’s see how to convert real numbers into test numbers, real fast.
In Australia our financial year starts in July. Excel is set up to work with calendar years and we need to do some date gymnastics to have our reports start in July. Here is a hack for Custom Lists that can make some things better in Excel.
On the weekend Sunday the 5th of September 2021 is a big day for Excel.
In Excel the date system starts on 1/1/1900 – that was day 1, and each day since has its own sequential number.
On Saturday September 5, 2021 (Father’s day in Australia) that number is – wait for it – see the image below.
May the fours be with you!
If you remove the formatting from a cell with a date you will see the underlying number.
When you import numbers from other systems they sometimes come in as text and are left aligned.
There are a couple of ways to fix them and they can both be done in less than a minute.
There are times when pasting to the bottom of an existing large, formatted table can take a few minutes to update. There is a quicker way.
When the formatted table is selected there is a Table Design (or Design) tab visible.
On the far left-hand side the Resize Table icon allows you to easily extend the range of the formatted.
You can amend the range and add sufficient rows to handle the new data in the dialog that opens.
When you paste into an existing formatted table (rather on the end of the table) you will find it will update a lot quicker.
My second article in Accountants Weekly was published 20 years ago today and it was Top 10 Functions for Accountants.
Intermediate series feedback
I received this email to day with feedback about last week’s Intermediate Excel series.
Keyboard Shortcut to Record a Macro
You need the Developer ribbon tab visible to record a macro, or do you?
This old-fashioned keyboard shortcut will open the record macro dialog. Pressed in sequence, not held down.
Alt T M R
You can also use the little icon next to the Ready at the bottom left corner of the screen.
Once you start recording the small square icon to stop recording appears in the same spot.