Filtering Tip

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.

You Can Undo After You Save

I am amazed how few people know this.

Way back in Office 2007 Microsoft changed the Undo List so that it is NOT cleared whenever you save a file.

You can use Ctrl + z or the Undo icon to undo things you did before you saved the file.

If you close the file that obviously clears the Undo List.

Please let people know this as I find so many people in my training sessions do not know things have changed since Office 2003.

This applies to all MS Office apps.

Make Excel VBA Pause

Sometimes when running a macro you need to make sure Excel has had time to do something before progressing.

This is typically in large models were it can take time (a few seconds) to do a specific task eg removing a filter or updating an external data source.

You can pause a macro to allow Excel to do something by using the Wait command.

Application.Wait (Now + TimeValue("0:00:02"))

The above code will pause the macro for 2 seconds.

Ctrl + Alt + F5 Not Working

The keyboard shortcut to Refresh All in Excel is

This refreshes all the data connections in the file in one step.

The problem is that on some systems (like mine) this conflicts with an Intel Graphics hot key.

To turn off the graphics hotkeys right click the Desktop and choose Graphics Options, then Hot Keys then Disable. See below.

Big thanks to StackOverflow for covering this issue – link below.

VBA to Clear a Filter

Using Excel’s built-in filtering can speed up your VBA code.

It is important if you are applying filters that you clear any existing filters before you apply a new filter. Otherwise the existing filters will usually affect a new filter you apply.

The line of code below will remove filters on Sheet1 (Sheet1 is the sheet code name that you see on the left side of the VBA screen – it may not be the sheet tab name).

If Sheet1.FilterMode Then Sheet1.ShowAllData

The .FilterMode property is True if a filter is in place on the sheet and False if not.

The .ShowAllData method will return an error if no filter is in place – hence the use of the If statement.

Instant Format in Excel

You may know the two keyboard shortcuts below for currency and percentage.

But what you may NOT know is a technique that has been around since the early versions of Excel.

The technique allows you to automatically apply these two formats after you type an entry.

It you type $1000 into a cell and press Enter. Excel will automatically apply the $ format to the cell. The $ sign will not display in the Formula Bar – see below.

If you type 2.5% into a cell. Excel will automatically apply the standard % format to the cell. The % sign will display in the Formula Bar – see below.

As I mentioned these are really old skills that have been lost over the years since we no longer have Excel manuals – shows my age.

Range Selection Tip and Trick

You know how when you press Enter you usually select the cell below? You can override that without changing a single setting.

When you select a range Excel can behave differently when you press the Enter key. Not many users know this trick.

Select the range B2:G2 in a blank sheet and press Enter. The cell selected will be the one on the right or back at the start of the range depending which cell was active when the range was selected.

Pressing Enter cycles through all the cells in the range.

This works for two dimensional ranges as well – in that case the cell below is selected until the bottom of the range is reached then the top of the next column within the range is selected.

This is handy for entering data into input ranges.

Try This

Let’s say range A2:D2 has basic links referencing the cell above so cell A2 has =A1 in it.

What if you wanted to change all those relative references to fixed references?

Select the range A2:D2 and then press these three keys in sequence

F2 F4 Enter

Repeat three times – job done!

F2 is the Edit command.

F4 converts a relative reference into a fixed reference.

Enter accepts the change.

You can often achieve very fast changes with keyboard techniques like this.

For example if a cell contains an email address  or a web address but it isn’t recognised as a link, simply select the cell and press F2 then press Enter to convert it into a link.

If there is a column of them, just keeping pressing F2 and Enter to convert them all. You can become quite fast.

Marking cells Good-Bad-Neutral

Sometimes when you are reviewing a file against a printed report, you may need to identify when cell values are correct, wrong or close.

Consider using the built-in Styles Good/Bad/Neutral on the Home ribbon tab – see below.

These can be quicker than using the usual fill colour icon.

Remember they may not be useful for colour blind readers if you are sharing with other people.

Don’t forget once applied if you want to apply the same format to another cell press the F4 function key.

Once formatted you can sort or filter by colour – see right click options below.

Adding Values to Values

Let’s say you have an input cell that someone enters multiple values into eg


You may have many such cells.

Now let’s say you want to add 20 to all these cells but keep the original values that have been entered in those cells.

Paste Special to the rescue.

  1. Enter 20 in a blank cell and then copy the cell
  2. Select the cells you want to amend – you can hold the Ctrl key down to select  multiple cells with the mouse
  3. Open the Paste Special dialog
  4. Click the options Values and Add – as per image below – then click OK – done!

The resulting formula will be something like



Find and Replace Tips, Tricks and Traps

The keyboard short for Find is Ctrl + f.

For Find & Replace it is Ctrl + h.


Always, I mean ALWAYS, select the range you are working with before you run Find and Replace.

If you have a single cell selected it will affect the whole sheet – maybe not what you want.

Leave the Dialog Open

In the old days we used to close the Find dialog. Now you can leave it open if you need to change things in multiple files or sheets. You can navigate around with the dialog left open.

When using Find if you want to select all the cells it has found, click in the bottom section of the Find dialog where the cells are listed and press Ctrl + a this will select all the cells at once.

Number Formats

Be aware that sometimes numbers won’t be found due to formatting. eg if you search for 1000 but you have used the comma format eg 1,000 then the number might not be found.

You might need to do two Finds, with and without commas.

Formulas vs Values

Click on the Options button to see these options.

The default Look in: setting for Find (unfortunately) is Formulas. See image below.

This means if a formula returns what you are looking for it won’t be found. You need to switch this Look in: setting to Values.

Making Subtotals Bold

When you use the SUBTOTAL feature in the Data ribbon tab it automatically inserts subtotals in your list – see blog post on it here.

One problem with this is that is only makes the cell with the word Total bold – it doesn’t make the whole row bold.

If you want the whole row to be bold it isn’t hard to fix.

  1. Select the whole range involved.
  2. Use the grouping button 2 top left corner. See image below.
  3. Then hold the Alt key down and press the ; (semicolon key) – this selects just the visible cells.
  4. Then press Ctrl + b to bold it.
  5. Click another cell to reset the range and you are done.

Printing Separate Print Areas

If you need to print a number of separate print areas from the one worksheet in one step there is an option that allows you to create a print area that includes additional ranges.

Create your first print area as per normal.

Select another print range and click the Page Layout ribbon and use the Print Area drop down and choose Add to Print Area. Keep adding ranges as you require.

You can also use the Ctrl key and mouse to select multiple separate ranges and then use Set Print Area.

The above technique allows you to add to that Print Area if you miss a range.


The only problem with this option is that each separate range is printed on a separate page(s).

Pasting a Filtered List in a Formatted Table

I have been recently working with some very large (500,000+ rows) tables. As part of the process I had to filter one Formatted Table, copy it and then paste it in another Formatted Table. Excel would sit there processing for a long time – but I found a technique to speed up the process.

After you copy the filtered list, simply paste it in a blank sheet. This is virtually instantaneous. Then copy that interim list and paste in the other Formatted Table – again almost instantaneous. Two quick pastes is a lot quicker than paste and wait.

In case you didn’t know, when you copy a filtered list, you only copy the visible cells – the filtered ones. The hidden cells are omitted from the copy.

So if you are experiencing delays in the pasting of a filtered list, just use an interim paste and then another copy to speed up your copy and paste.

For more information on Formatted Tables, check out the links below.

Format As Table in Excel Part 1

Excel Format as Table Part 2 [VIDEO]


Inserting Data into Formatted Tables

I was recently working with a large Formatted Table in excess of 100,000 rows with Power Query.

I was copying in new data to a temporary workings table and then manipulating it with Power Query to get the required output. The data was varying lengths. I found that if you pasted data into a Formatted Table that was a lot longer than the Formatted Table it can take a long time for Excel to process the paste (I am talking tens of thousands of extra rows).

To get around this delay I found that if you first expanded the Formatted Table using Insert Rows, the paste was virtually instantaneous. Inserting the extra rows was also very quick.

So if your Table has sufficient rows the paste is quick, if Excel needs to expand the table to fit the new data, it can be slow for large data sets. Make sure you insert sufficient blank rows to speed up the paste.

You can learn more about Formatted Tables at the two blog posts below. I have also covered the topic in numerous free webinars.

Format As Table in Excel Part 1

Excel Format as Table Part 2 [VIDEO]

Sheet Protection – No password

When you protect a sheet with a password, you must make a note of the password, otherwise you create problems for yourself.

Did you know you don’t have to supply a password?

To apply sheet protection, right click the sheet tab and choose Protect Sheet.

When the Protect Sheet dialog displays just press Enter or click OK.

This protects the sheet with no password.

This stops accidental changes and you can easily unprotect the sheet to make changes.

You can right click the sheet tab to unprotect as well.

Relationships Shortcut

Excel 2013 added the Data Model to Excel.

The Relationships option (Data ribbon) is part of that model. It allows you to create relationships between tables so that you can use a PivotTable to report on multiple tables.

See my December 2016 INTHEBLACK article for an example.

The keyboard shortcut to create or edit, a Relationship is easy to remember – it is

Alt a a

Pressed in sequence, not held down.