Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers is a great read – I reviewed it here. Its premise is that some outliers (events that are far outside “normal” expectations) have causes and hence are worthy of investigation. Excel have some functions that can help identify outliers in your data.
Grouping is a powerful feature in PivotTable reports but sometimes Excel won’t let you apply grouping. There are a few reasons for this.
Recently a client wanted help in summarising a large data list of employees. They wanted to identify the years of service in terms of 5, 10, 15 years and other milestone years based on a start date.
Selecting a column
To quickly select a column of data in a formatted table you have a couple of options.
Select a cell in the column and press Ctrl + Space Bar.
This will select the column of data. If you want the heading too, press it again.
You can also select multiple columns before using the shortcut.
This technique can take practice if your headings are in row 1.
If the heading starts in row 2 or below it is easier. See image below.
If you point to just above the heading row you will see a downward facing, black arrow. Click this once to select just the data. Click it again to include the heading.
When the heading row is in row 1 you need to do the same but make sure the column letter doesn’t highlight.
The image below is the correct arrow – this will select the column in the table only.
In the image below the arrow shown (because the column letter is highlighted) will select the whole column, not just the data in the table.
Rounded values in Excel can pose a few issues. There is a formula you can use that can round a range of values and then SUM the results. This can be used as a check total for rounded values.
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.