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.

Save and Close in Excel

Let's create a macro

I started using Excel in the late 80’s on a Mac. It had a Save and Close button. When I discovered VBA in Excel on the PC, the very first macro I ever made was save and close.

I thought this would be a good example to take you through creating a macro from scratch and sharing a technique to make it easy to use.

Unlocking coloured cells in Excel

Styles and Find solutions

When you create an Excel file that handles inputs it is best practice to colour code the input cells. The colour you choose isn’t important but making sure you use it consistently is. You may need to unlock the input cells if you plan to add sheet protection to the file. Here’s a couple of ways to do that.

Multiple Entries in an Excel Filtered List

Ctrl key to the rescue

When a list is filtered you are only seeing the rows that match the filter. The other rows are still there, just hidden. If you want to make the same entry in a group of filtered cells you can’t use the fill handle to drag and copy as you will overwrite the hidden rows. There is an easy way to do it.

Free Excel Webinar Recording – Keyboard Shortcuts

Feedback score 93%

When I ran some face to face training sessions recently I was reminded how much people LOVE keyboard shortcuts. So I decided to update my keyboard shortcut webinar.

In October 2018 I shared lots of keyboard shortcuts. Download the materials using the button below and watch the video.

CPD note – if you are claiming CPD for watching this recording you need to keep your own records. People who attend the live sessions receive an annual listing of attendances.

Webinar Materials

Using the mouse isn’t always the quickest way to perform tasks in Excel. Keyboard shortcuts can speed up your work and save you hunting through screens and dialogs. Some of the keyboard shortcuts you will learn in this session are:

  • wrap text and other useful formats
  • applying row and column grouping
  • selecting a table quickly
  • copying visible cells only
  • apply and remove Freeze Panes
  • returning after following a hyperlink
  • how to avoid an annoying feature of formula and reference dialogs when you press an arrow key to move around
  • get the most out of the Tab key

There will be lots of other shortcuts as well. Even if you prefer using the mouse you might learn a few useful new techniques.

Copying a Date Down a Long List in Excel

Two techniques make it quick and easy

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.