When you are setting up a protected sheet that allows users to make inputs, a few option changes can make the user’s experience a lot easier.
Power Query can easily combine data from multiple Excel files. A problem can arise if one or more of the files is open. Power Query will generate an error and the import will fail. The solution involves an old school Excel feature.
Entering Date and Time in Excel
There are shortcuts to enter
- the current Date Ctr + ;
- the current Time Ctrl + Shift + :
There isn’t one to enter both.
You can use them in sequence to achieve a date and a time entry.
In sequence press
Ctrl + ;
Ctrl + Shift + :
The space separates the date and time and Excel will recognise the entry as a date and time.
Getting dates into order is usually a job for Power Query, but not everyone has it or uses it so I still get requests for formulas to fix text dates.
Let’s assume you have three state codes and four department codes and you want to create a table of all the possible 12 combinations (3 x 4). How do you do it so that it is flexible? i.e. if you add a new state or department it must be easy to update the combination table.
Filtering blanks made easy
In Excel the “Blanks” option is usually at the bottom of the list. This slows down selecting it.
If you have a lot of entries you need to scroll all the way down to bottom of the list to choose it – see image below.
But the word “Blanks” is searchable, so if you type b in the Search box – your work is done – no scrolling required – see image below.
If your column contains text you might need to type in bla.
There are a number of mouse and keyboard shortcuts for copying. But there is one type of copy that can be frustrating. Copying dates can be challenging because, in general, Excel wants to increment them, not copy them. There is a simple technique to instruct Excel to copy a date.
Some systems add DR and CR to the end of numbers when they export into Excel. This renders the values useless for normal calculations. You can use data cleansing techniques to remove the characters using formulas or Power Query. There is one function however that can perform calculations on these types of entries.
Charts have a behaviour that many people don’t realise. That behaviour can also be turned off. If you hide a row or column in the data range used by a chart, the values will also be hidden on the chart.
When creating ranges of formulas that you want to copy down, you sometimes have a trade off in the use of fixed and relative references. If you need to create a relative reference that acts like a fixed reference you can use a trick.
Filter in Power BI Data View
Filtering coming soon to the Data view in Power BI. Fingers crossed this gets done soon – patience everyone.
You can create complex functions with Excel to handle dates. But it makes more sense to get your data structured correctly and then you can use simpler date formulas. Power Query allows you to fix your data so that you can use those simpler formulas.
Privacy settings allow you to control who sees the Power Query data. There seems to be a bug that remembers your response to a dialog and this ignores any changes to the Privacy settings. Find out the VBA line of code that can fix it.
Formatted Tables are great but there is an issue when it comes to copying formula that use the table names (Structured References). There are two techniques that cope with this limitation.
A drop down list in Excel can help speed up data input and ensure the user has entered a valid entry. If you have only a few choices, creating the drop down can be a quick process.
Converting multiple text numbers into real numbers or reversing the sign on multiple numbers is easy in Excel if you know how to use Paste Special.
PDF and Power BI
Looks like Power BI will soon be able to extract data from tables in PDF documents.
Great to see requests being acted on.
I recently helped a client reduce the size of an Excel file. The file took a while to save which was frustrating and time consuming. I thought I would share this reasonably easy solution.
If you want to filter by blanks across multiple columns the standard Filter feature can’t help you. You can use the Advanced Filter but that takes time to set up and most users don’t know how to use Advanced Filter.
Make your headings bold.
This tip applies to tables and to the structures you use for charts.
Excel looks for the bold format when it reviews tables and layouts to figure out if your table has a headings row.
You can use Ctrl + Shift + L to add or remove the filter icons to a data table. There is also an icon on Data ribbon tab.
This will work more reliably if the headings are bold.
I use the following keyboard combination on the top left corner of the table.
Ctrl + Shift + right arrow (this selects all the headings)
Ctrl + b (this applies bold to the headings)
Ctrl + Shift + L (to turn on filters)
This combination can be done very quickly.
You can just use Ctrl + Shift + L within the table, but sometimes this applies the filter to the wrong row.