Three Valuable EXCEL Features
Microsoft Excel has many outstanding features, which is why it is one of the world’s most heavily used applications. Here are three features you may not know about that can make your Excel experience even more productive!
1. Auto Fill
a. Auto Fill allows you to take a formula or pattern that has been applied to one cell and apply that same formula or pattern to other cells. In the example below, we have used a formula to give Bob a 3% salary increase. We can then select the tiny green dot at the bottom right corner of the cell containing Bob’s new salary and hold the mouse down and drag it vertically until all of the other cells in the column are selected.
b. Once we let go of the mouse, all of the remaining cells in the column will be populated using the same formula that was used to compute Bob’s new salary:
2. “Insert Function”
a. Excel provides a huge array of functions for the user, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one to use when. The “Insert Function” button allows you to tell Excel what you’re trying to do, and it will give you a list of likely functions to solve your problem and also walk you through how to enter the parameters needed for that particular function.
b. For example, imagine you wanted to find the largest value in the list of current salaries in our previous example. You would type “Largest in a set of values” in the Search box, and select “Go”, and Excel will return two possible functions that meet your needs. You can see exactly what the functions do at the bottom of the screen. Once you determine which of these functions you want to use, select the function and press ENTER.
c. Once you press ENTER, you will be presented with the “Arguments” screen where Excel will walk you through each of the arguments that the function requires. The text at the bottom tells you exactly what needs to be entered for that argument.
d. Once all the arguments are entered, just select “OK”, and your function will be entered into the appropriate cell! If you look at the formula bar above the data, you will see the function that Excel created for you:
3. Conditional Formatting
a. Conditional Formatting allows you to graphically depict your data based on their values. You can use colors or icons to depict the data in different ways. As an example, imagine we wanted to show the difference in people’s salaries. We could use the “Data Bars” type of conditional formatting as shown below, so that the people with the highest salaries have the longest purple bars while the people with the smallest salaries have the shortest bars.
b. We could also use icons instead of just colors so that the people with the highest salaries have a green “up” arrow, while the people with the lowest salaries have a red “down” arrow.
c. There are many more options of conditional formatting; be sure to try them out until you find the one that works best for you!
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