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30 Essential Tools and Web Apps for Freelancers

30 Essential Tools and Web Apps for Freelancers


    When it comes to freelancing, having the right tools for the job can make all the difference.

    And we’re not talking exclusively on-job tools here either; freelancers have the difficult task of managing all of their activities, work expenditures, and productivity, as they have only themselves to account for.

    While you certainly don’t want to get bogged down in excess tools (succumbing to signing up to every free tool ever), there are certainly a few free resources out there that will greatly aid in your endeavors as a successful freelancer. So, here are 30 tools and web apps for freelancers.

    Freelancer Time Management Tools

    1. Teux Deux

    The Teux Deux “to-do” list app first starting picking up some traction when it was mentioned to be used by the likes of Seth Godin for making daily to-do lists. The premise behind Teux Deux was to make a very minimal but visually compelling (“designy”) app that is highly usable and intuitive.

    If making lists is a key part of your organizational structure as a free lancer, than you should definitely check out Teux Deux, it is one of the best options out there for creating and managing task lists (and it’s free!) You can also take Teux Deux on the go with their iPhone app.

    2. RescueTime

    You may be familiar with RescueTime it due to it’s association with a few big names, such as Matt Mullenwag of Automattic and WordPress. What you may not be familiar with is how useful RescueTime really is.

    RescueTime allows you to keep track of how you spend your time on your computer, and lets you analyze how this time was spent later. If you find that last week you spent over 10 hours on Reddit, you can know that it is time to start managing your time more wisely ;).

    3. Focus Booster

    For freelancers, getting things done in a timely manner is of utmost importance, and entirely on the self as freelancing typically comes with a very variable schedule. While  the Pomodoro Technique provide great results for some people, it’s hard to implement on a regular basis without the right tools, and who wants to walk around with a timer all day?

    That’s where Focus Booster comes in, it is an online timer made just for freelancers (or anyone!) using the Pomodoro Technique to get things done. If you aren’t familiar, this method relies on having 25 minute periods of work followed by 5 minute periods of rest, which helps you segment tasks and get them done one at a time.

    4. Toggl

    Toggl is a time tracking app which aims to help you track time with a single click, and to switch easily between different tasks and create reports so that you can get things done and turn that precious time into productive time.It is also available as a Chrome extension, and can be easily installed in your browser for use as soon as you fire up the web.

    It’s been featured on an favorably reviewed by sites like Lifehacker, where it is described as:

    “Toggl starts tracking the time spent in a live second by second timer right in the web browser. Hit stop when you’re done. Toggl will put together reports – PDF or CSV – for invoicing your clients. More portable than a kitchen timer, Toggl looks like a helpful little tool for hourly freelancers who need to keep track of exactly how much time they spent on what task in another Firefox tab.”

    5. TextExpander

    As a freelancer, you are likely sending a lot of emails. Worse yet, many of these emails are likely to contain similar (if not duplicate) information. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a free app that could cut down the time of sending these emails?

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    That’s where TextExpander comes in, allowing you to pre-program short abbreviations that an automatically insert all types of information and even images, CSS, and other longer forms of information, all from a few easy keystrokes. You can also pre-program to fix typos you often make, use different signatures for different clients, and auto-insert forms and other info on a per project basis.

    Freelance Writing Tools

    6. OpenOffice

    All freelancers (but especially writers) need a full suite of office tools for their personal computer. While Google Docs offers a web based alternative, many folks like storing documents on their hard drive or external memory device. Instead of paying the cost of Microsoft Office, why not try the excellent and free OpenOffice alternative?

    While OpenOffice comes with full suite of tools that are comparable to Microsoft Office, the OpenOffice writer is the biggest benefit here: it’s a fully featured writing platform that allows easy exporting to PDF, making it perfect for e-Books, guides, pamphlets, and other necessary documents to be easily shared on the PDF format. It comes fully featured with a similar selection of fonts and other tools (charts, formatting, etc.) that Microsoft Office has, all while being

    7. WriteRoom (Mac)

    When it comes to getting big writing projects done, focus is key. Nothing will give you more focus than a full-screen writing tool, and WriteRoom is the original offering that is available for Mac.

    Featuring a totally black background and no menu options (as well as blocking out all toolbars, even the start menu), WriteRoom will keep your writing between you and the page, taking away all outside things to click so that you can focus you’re writing efforts.

    8. DarkRoom (PC)

    If you were reading the above and thinking “Oh great, another awesome free tool only available for Mac…”, worry not! There is another program designed to perfectly replicate WriteRoom, only for Windows. It is called DarkRoom and it is similarly free.

    Want to really get rid of disctractions? Use either one of these programs and then do the unthinkable: turn off your Internet! That’s right, disabling the web with a full-screen writer will leave you with not many options but to get some writing done!

    9. Zen Writer

    While the above two options are great for most people, for some, the dark background and the “Matrix style” feel of the programs will be off putting and will not help them maintain focus when writing.

    The solution? ZenWriter, a full-screen writing app that takes aesthetics into account. With a serene light and dark background and adjustable fonts, this is the best looking full-screen writer available. The catch? It costs $9 to use all of its features full-time, although you can download the program for free and try it for yourself.

    10. Logline App

    Logline is an interesting app to feature because it is marketed as being the perfect solution for writing screenplays, but I’ve found it to be a great tool for writing a far more common type of web writing: long, comprehensive e-Books. Simply put, a huge part of freelance writing and anyone using content marketing to grow their business.

    With Logline, organizing your ideas and sections/chapters is as simple as a few clicks, you can write notes and organize sections painlessly, no need for immense .doc or .pdf files until the book is fully complete.

    Freelance Organizational Tools

    11. Dropbox

    Most of us freelancers have heard of Dropbox before, and let me tell you any “hype” tied to the product is totally accurate: Dropbox is awesome, allowing you to sync all files on all of your devices with a simple drag-n-drop system.

    Never again will you have to sit with downtime when you could be working on a project, or get stuck not having an essential file that you need: sync all of your files with Dropbox and you’re business files will be “in the cloud”, accessible from any of the devices that you own and have on you.

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    12. Shoeboxed

    Shoeboxed allows you to turn piles of receipts and business cards into expense reports, accounting entries and contact lists, save time and cut admin costs by scanning and extract the data from your paper clutter. Shoebox is also accepted by the IRS, so you can use it for your business without worry.

    The only downside? The free plan won’t be enough for most people, so if you want to take advantage of the full suite of Shoebox features multiple times a month, you are going to have to upgrade to a premium plan.

    13. Now Do This

    Now Do This is about the most simple a task management tool can be: it only allows you to make a simple text list which you then click “done” after you’ve… well, done the task.

    The upside? No fancy features ensure that this is a true “Getting Things Done” tool, there is nothing to play around with and adjust, you just put up your things to do, and get to it.

    14. Oh Don’t Forget…

    If you are like me, emails can get passed over, voicemails unlistened to… but text messages? Opened every time. The Oh Don’t Forget team thinks like this as well, as they’ve made the best tool to get reminders via text.

    With a ODF account you can text yourself reminders at any time of the day, and since they will be coming through your phone, you know you will be more likely to check and thus remember them.

    15. Remember The Milk

    Remember The Milk has definitely created some buzz recently, and with it’s Gmail addon, you can now access it through your email, which you are probably spending too much time in… ;)

    RTM is simply one of the best task managers out there, with tools that can remind you from almost any device, set up specific location reminders, plan your time in advanced, and work together with others to get things done. An overall must have tool in my opinion.

    16. BetterBuzzer

    Did you think that text message reminders might be annoying? Well than stay far away from BetterBuzzer, the company that promises to “Not stop calling you until you pick up. We’re annoying like that, and you’ll love it!” :)

    BetterBuzzer does as promised, if you set an important reminder via their calendar tool, you will get called at that time and your phone will not stop ringing until you pick up, useful for absolutely critical things that you cannot miss or forget.

    Freelance Project Management Tools

    17. MindMeister

    Mind-mapping is all of the rage these days, although it is no different from the old school pen-and-paper method, with tools like MindMeister, you can create mind-maps on your electronic devices, which serve as much better storage than sheets of looseleaf.

    Of all my trials with mind-mapping tools, MindMesiter is definitely the best, and it’s free plan will be enough for most people, although if you create a ton of mind-maps, the premium plans are very reasonable.

    18. FreedCamp

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    FreedCamp promises to be the best viable (and free!) alternative to BaseCamp, which so far has not has any major competitors (especially ones that are free).

    I’ve used FreedCamp myself and this tool gets better by the day, including all sorts of options which seem like steal to have on a free tool. Better yet, it comes with awesome features like project templates so that you can get up and running as soon as you start using the service, making it an absolute must try: if you’ve been thinking about using a platform like this, I’d advise checking out FreedCamp first.

    19. Google Apps

    A lot of these apps you are most likely familiar with if you use a Google Account. From messaging & task apps such as Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar to collaboration apps such as Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Reader and many more, Google Apps is an absolute must for any freelancer in my humble opinion.

    If you want to include the recent Google+ into the mix, then you also have incentive to have a Google account in order to network on this new social networking platform. While you have to watch that it doesn’t turn into a time-sink, Google+ offers a way to connect with technologically savy users (it’s main adopters, at least for now) and as a way to further promote yourself on a platform run by the world’s biggest search engine.

    20. Evernote

    When creativity and good ideas strike, will you leave it up to memory to keep track of them? The scary truth is your brain is not as dependable as you’d like to think, but cut the poor guy some slack: in today’s world, we are forced to recall tons of information and are constantly being stimulated by new information.

    The benefits of technology help to ease it’s woes, however, with tools like Evernote. Evernote allows you to capture any good ideas, images, or audio clips from your PC or phone, and then lets you sync them all for easy retrieval and edits no matter where you are. Don’t let a good idea slip away due to being too busy: let Evernote keep track of your spontaneous moments of creativity/inspiration and store them so you can come back and work on them later.

    21. Helium

    Helium is a super simple task management system to aid you in clearing out your inbox, assigning and delegating tasks easily, and to take action in order to get things done. Easily connected to your corporate email and Evernote account, Helium also does not need to be connected to the web to work: you can download it for your PC or Mac and it is ready to go.

    Even better: you can use Helium to assign tasks whether or not other users use Helium or not, it is not dependent on others to have an account with the platform in order to use it’s benefits. Lastly, Helium features a clean interface and a drag-n-drop dashboard for easy management.

    Entrepreneurial & Legal Tools

    22. Mint

    Mint has been a really popular tool for people looking to manage their money, and it’s no wonder: the interface is beautiful, the tools are excellent, and the service is free. I really cannot recommend another free money management tool over Mint, it has all of the essentials a freelancer could need to start managing their spending and saving more wisely.

    Not only that, but the Mint blog is always full of excellent information in the form of detailed posts, infographics, and case studies. You will not find a better designed and made product for money management for free.

    23. StreamerApp

    The Streamer App is a really great tool that allows you to create custom dashboards for your business’s vital aspects. These include integrations with popular Web Analytics, CRM support, infrastructure, project management and sales tools… all in one place.

    The amount of services that integrate with Streamer are impressive thus far and improving by the day, and include the likes of Basecamp, Twitter, MailChimp, Gmail, Google Analytics, Pingdom, Shopify, UserVoice and many more.

    24. ContactMe

    ContactMe touts itself as being the essential, all-in-one tool to allow you to consolidate all of your contacts—and the business information that relates to each one—into one convenient, online system.

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    Utilizing ContactMe to keep this type of information in order will allow you to stay updated and continually on top of your correspondences, tasks, details, deadlines and appointments. Definitely a major time savor that allows you to conduct your business more professionally.

    25. DeskTime

    DeskTime is an awesome tool that is perfect for business owners, designers, developers, accountants and many others types of freelancers and entrepreneurs. What does it allow you to do?

    It allows you to keep track of people that you are employing, including the ability to automatically create timesheets (no more Excel!) lowering your payroll processing costs, and allowing you to see who is working, for how long, and at what hours. A must have for freelancers and business owners employing others.

    26. DocStoc

    Docstoc is the best online source for high quality (and a wide variety) of professional and legal documents that you can use to start, grow, and manage your budding new business, entrepreneurial endeavor, or freelance activities.

    Docstoc provides the platform to upload and share documents with the world, and serves as a vast repository of free and for purchase legal, business, financial, technical, and educational documents that can be easily searched, previewed and downloaded.

    Freelancer Social Media Tools

    27. Tweriod

    When it comes to social media (especially on Twitter), timing can be everything. Not only on the time you spend on it (get back to work!) but also on the timing of your updates, which can have big consequences on their reach and effectiveness.

    Fortunately, there is a one-two knockout combo for Twitter that will make sure your updates go out at the perfect time, every time. The first part of this process is analyzing your followers over on Tweriod, which will give you a comprehensive (and good looking!) chart displaying the most popular hours on Twitter for your followers (when they are online the most).

    With this information, you can then use…

    28. BufferApp

    …the BufferApp, the second part in our awesome Twitter combo. After you’ve gotten your free report of when your Twitter followers are online, use Buffer to set up time periods in which your tweets will post every day, making sure they align with when your Twitter followers are online the most.

    You can schedule tweets from the very beginnings of the day, and can set them to go out at very specific times, hitting the hot spots throughout the day, making sure your tweets are getting read by as large an audience as possible. This will maximize each tweet’s impact and you can rest assured that your important tweets won’t get buried. Buffer also now works with Facebook as well.

    29. Ping.fm

    Ping.fm is one of the best ways to cut through the 20 different logins that you might have for social media profiles: update once and done, and Ping will even shorten the links automatically for sites like Twitter.

    I like Ping because I’m able to updates social media accounts, microblogs (such as Posterous and Tumblr) and that the Ping team is adding new accounts all of the time, assuring me that it will be a service that stays updated with the latest useful profiles for all types of sites.

    30. SocialOomph

    Social Oomph has some really great social networking tools in it’s arsenal, but it really shines when it comes to Twitter tools. The reason that so many of these web apps for freelancer tools focus on Twitter is because I’ve found it to be one of the best networking tools, with LinkedIn being a close second (and Google+ being a distant 3rd).

    One awesome feature that I love to use (properly!) is the auto-DM tool. While this tool can be extremely obnoxious when used incorrectly, it can be a great asset done the right way. What’s the right way? Entice people to follow you by promising them a freebie (Follow me for a free video/e-book/whatever!), you will gain more potential followers and you also get to spread some content that you’ve made, making it a win-win.

    (Photo credit: Glasses on Keyboard via sxc.hu)

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

    25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

    Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

    Or even better:

    What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

    You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

    Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

    How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

    The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

    In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

    • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
    • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
    • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

    As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

    Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

    Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

    But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

    his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

    5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

    Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

    But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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    1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
    2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
    3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
    4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
    5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

    Who can use Excel shortcuts?

    There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

    • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
    • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
    • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
    • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

    Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

    With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

    25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

    Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

    1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

    If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

    2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

    If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

    If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

    3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

    Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

    =sum(

    …and then press F3.

    When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

    4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

    Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

    =match(

    …and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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    When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

    But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

    5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

    If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

    • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
    • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
    • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
    • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
    • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

    6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

    By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

    The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

    For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

    A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

    7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

    When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

    8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

    When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

    9. Use filtering

    Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

    It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

    To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

    10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

    Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

    Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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    To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

    11. See formula results with F9

    If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

    Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

    12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

    If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

    13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

    Here’s how to use EDATE:

    =EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

    =EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

    14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

    Here’s how to use EMONTH:

    =EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

    =EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

    15. Remove spaces with TRIM

    TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

    16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

    In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

    17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

    When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

    And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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    18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

    If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

    19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

    Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

    You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

    20. Use data validation

    This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

    • Create dependent drop-down lists;
    • Create drop-down lists;
    • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

    21. Use conditional formatting

    It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

    22. Use formula auditing

    This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

    The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

    23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

    Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

    It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

    24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

    INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

    25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

    OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

    The bottom line

    As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

    That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

    If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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