Let’s say you have a table of codes and every month there are a few you want to check out. You could use a VLOOKUP to extract all the details for each code, but let’s say you want to view the codes in the table.
I wanted to offer a solution to a common problem I see in Excel. It relates to creating totals in data that isn’t structured that well.
It is common to work with lists in Excel. Lists of departments, names and other categories you frequently use. This blog post covers a few techniques that work really well together to create robust reporting systems.
Learning Excel’s Function Arguments
When you start to use a function it can take some time to learn the arguments required and understand what Excel expects for each argument. Eg should it be a cell or a range or either?
When you have the start of a function in the formula bar, you can either press Ctrl + a or click the fx symbol on the left of the formula bar – see image below.
In the image above, the argument in square brackets [range_lookup] is optional. Square brackets around an argument mean it is optional.
This will display a dialog with a listing of the arguments required by a function. The bold names are required, the non-bold names are optional.
This listing provides a lot more detail on what Excel is expecting for each function argument. This helps you learn more about how to create and use the function.
I saw a technique demonstrated recently with VLOOKUP that I hadn’t seen used before and thought at the time, that’s handy. Upon reflection however, I thought that’s a bit dangerous.
The LEFT and RIGHT functions are great for extracting leading or trailing characters from a text string. Did you know their default setting is handy too?
Summing a range with Errors
If you have a column of values with errors, but you want to see what the values add up to, use the AGGREGATE function (added in Excel 2010).
If column A has the values and errors use
The 9 means SUM. The 6 means ignore errors.
I was looking at a calendar and noticed it used alternately shaded cells, like a checkerboard, for all the dates and thought Excel could do that.
Sometimes data that comes into Excel with code numbers formatted as text. This can stop VLOOKUP functions from working and return the dreaded #N/A error. With a couple of tweaks you can lookup both real numbers and text numbers in the one formula.
The TRANSPOSE function is one of only a few functions that must be entered as an the array using keyboard entry Ctrl + Shift + Enter (CSE). It allows you to switch a range from going across the sheet, to go down the sheet and vice versa.
Always Refer to Cell A1
If you need to ALWAYS refer to cell A1, regardless of whether row or columns are inserted or deleted, then use the following formula.
This will always display the entry in cell A1 on the current sheet.
Another formula that always refers to cell A1 on the current sheet is
Excel has a few issues with dates. Mainly they relate to the dates that are imported into Excel. Different systems present different problems. This post solves an issue with dates that include times.
Most people think that the IF function has to return a result. This leads to doing whole calculations in the true and false sections of the IF function. There is a way to create shorter functions.
If you need a formula to identify the last used cell in a column you don’t have to use an array formula. The AGGREGATE function can calculate it for you.
Days in Month Formula
If you need to calculate how many days in a month, you can use two functions together.
Assuming cell A1 has a date within the month, you can use
Hyperlinks are a great way to navigate around large spreadsheets. Unfortunately they each take a few clicks to create and can be easily broken. You can use a function to easily create multiple, flexible hyperlinks.
The ROUND function rounds values to decimal places on either side of the decimal point. It is useful and popular. The MROUND function is meant to allow you more flexibility in your rounding calculations. Let’s say you want round to closest 0.05. The MROUND is meant to handle this calculation but unfortunately it provides inconsistent results.
Excel has had a week number function for many versions, but Excel 2013 added a new week number function that complies with the ISO 8601 standard week number.
When working with loans or leases, it is common to have to add a number of years to a start date to determine the end date. An Excel function can automate that process.