Input Data Display Hack for Excel

Getting the format white

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 Minute to Excel #23 – Text numbers to real number again

Another solution

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.

 

One Minute to Excel #22 – Normalise a budget

Power Query can be quick

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.

Monitor Cells with Excel’s Watch Window

Don't wait, watch

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.

 

One Minute to Excel #21 – Hiding Zeroes

Two ways

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.

One Minute to Excel #18 – Convert real numbers to text numbers

Two techniques

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.

May the fours be with you

Excel and Star Wars combine

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.

Pasting into a Large Formatted Table

There is a quick way to do this

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.

Happy Birthday IBM PC

40 years old

The IBM PC was launched 12 August 1981 – 40 years ago – wow!

When I was looking at my first Excel articles I found this article from 20 years ago.

Its amazing that PC’s are roughly the same price these days.

I remember using an IBM PC at college in the early 80’s for word processing. Instead of using a typewriter for your assignments you could use the PC and printer.

You had to book times to use it because there were only two PC’s available and they were used 24 hours a day. There were dual floppy drives – one was for the operating system and one was for  data storage  – your files. You carried around a floppy drive with all your assignments on it.

Excelling at Excel – Twenty Years Ago Today

My first article

My first article was published on 10 August 2001 in the Accountants Weekly magazine.

I have scanned the original article and it is shown below.

20 years later I thought I would update the 10 points from the article.

  1. The right mouse button is still a time saver and now has even more options. You can now Filter and Sort using the right click. Try right clicking the navigation icons on the left of the sheet tabs for a complete list of sheets. I drag with the right mouse button to copy formats only, or values only.
  2. Yes, I still use the Ctrl key to copy quickly. Try dragging a sheet tab with the mouse whilst holding the Ctrl key down – it copies the sheet – woohoo!
  3. Selecting multiple ranges with the Ctrl key and mouse is even better now. In the more recent Excel versions you can de-select ranges. In the old days you had to start from scratch if you wanted to change a selection.
  4. Toolbars are gone but the Quick Access Toolbar is customisable – see this post on that.
  5. Toolbars are out, but you can create your own ribbon tabs using Customize The Ribbon – right click the ribbon.
  6. Conditional Formatting (Home ribbon) now has lots more options and many built-in ones.
  7. Shift key – still lots of options with Shift.
  8. Double clicking – yes lots of time savers. Try double clicking the Format Painter (left side of Home ribbon) to apply formats multiple times. Press Esc to stop.
  9. Comments – now Comments have been re-badged as Notes and Comments are a new threaded commentary system.
  10. Paste Special – Ctrl + Alt + V opens Paste Special after copying.

When published all those years ago these tips applied to both Excel 97 and Excel 2000. We have come a long way since those days.

Page Breaks in Excel

Turn them off

When you set your print area or use the Page Break Preview View, Excel will show you the page breaks on the grid. If this annoys or distracts you, here is how to remove them.

It’s a one-line macro that turns off the page breaks in the current sheet.

Sub TurnOffPageBreaks()
 
ActiveSheet.DisplayPageBreaks = False
 
End Sub

If you are new to macros then this blog post can take you through how to use them.

The above code can be copied and pasted into the code window.

If you want to turn page breaks off for all the sheets in the file use the code below.

Sub TurnOffAllPageBreaks()
 
Dim ws
 
For Each ws In Worksheets
 
  ws.DisplayPageBreaks = False
 
Next ws
 
End Sub

 

I hope these code snippets are useful.