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7 Tricks To Make You A Spreadsheet Expert

7 Tricks To Make You A Spreadsheet Expert

Computer spreadsheet programs, like Excel, are an excellent tool for organizing, storing and manipulating data. Here are tricks that will assist with data entry into the spreadsheet:

1. Control the cell pointer during data entry:

Excel automatically moves the cell pointer to the next cell down when you press Enter after entering data into a cell. This gets distracting, especially, if you wish to add data in a row instead of a column. To change the setting, use the Excel options dialog box.

  •   Choose: File ->Excel Options -> Advanced ->Editing Options.

control_pointer2
    • Enable Check-box “After pressing Enter, move selection” and the corresponding drop-down, controls the action of the cell pointer during data Entry.
    • Tip: On disabling the check-box, arrow keys can be used to control the direction of the pointer. For example, if you’re entering data in a row, press the right-arrow key rather than Enter to move fluidly to the next cell in the same row.

    2. Store data within Data Tables :

    Excel Spreadsheet is grid of rows and columns. While adding data into Excel, intuitively one does not use Data Tables. However, Excel Data Tables are simple and powerful. They help in easily adding more rows and columns without worrying about updating formula references, formatting options, filter settings, etc. Data Tables take care of everything.

    To add Excel Data Tables, select a Range of Cells comprising of data and click on Table button residing inside the Insert Ribbon.

      Data Table Tricks:

      • Data Tables comes with its own set of Data Filters and Sort Options by default. Without Data Tables, Excel allows only one set of filters per worksheet. However, if a worksheet has more than one table, then each table comes with its own filters and sort options.
      • Formulas inside a data table can use meaningful header names instead of using cell references. Moreover, on adding or removing rows, one need not worry about updating the references.

      Formula
        • With structured references, calculating inside columns becomes very easy. In addition, excel automatically fills the formula inside rest of the cells in the column.
        • Data Tables can be formatted with a single click inside Table Tools
        • Duplicate Data can be deleted from the Data Tables with a single click inside Table Tools
        • Data Tables can be converted back to a Range with a single click inside Table Tools
        • Data Tables can be exported to a share point site with a single click inside Table Tools
        • Data Tables can be summarized by adding a Total Row with a single click inside Table Tools

        3. Data Entry Forms

        Once the Data Tables are set up in a worksheet, Excel Data forms provide the ability to enter data into those tables using a Dialog box. To get the Form Button on the Quick Access Toolbar, follow the below steps:

        • Click on Customize Quick Access Toolbar
        • Select More Commands from the list
        • Choose All Commands from the Dropdown
        • You should find Forms in the list of All Commands
        • Click on Add, and it should get added to the Quick Access Toolbar, once you click on OK

        In order to access the Forms Dialog box, simply select the Data Table Range in the worksheet and Click on Forms from the Quick Access Toolbar.

        Data Form

          The options on the Dialog box are as follows:

          • New: Adds a new record into the Data Table
          • Delete: Deletes the displayed record from the Data Table
          • Restore: Restores the changes made in a Data Table Entry
          • Find Prev/Find Next: Finds the records as specified in the Criteria Field
          • Criteria: Retrieving data that meets a set criteria
          • Close: Closes the Dialog Box

          4. Data Validation Lists:

          Creating drop-down list and enforcing data entry using drop-down, ensures that data consistency is always maintained in your worksheet. To create a drop-down list:

          • Enter the list of items in a range.
          • Select the cell that will contain the drop-down list
          • Choose Data -> Data Tools -> Data Validation.
          • In the Data Validation dialog box, click the Settings tab.
          • In the Allow drop-down list, select List.
          • In the Source box, specify the range that contains the items.
          • Make sure that the In-Cell drop-down option is checked and click OK.
          Tip: If the drop-down list is short, then you can enter the values directly in the Source Field separated by commas.

          5. AutoCorrect for short-hand data entry:

          AutoCorrect, by default is meant to do useful things like capitalizing the first letter of sentences, or correct the accidental use of the caps lock key. In addition, one can customize the AutoCorrect to create shortcuts for commonly used words or phrases. For example, below I use the abbreviation: “gro” for Groceries, “subsc” for Subscriptions and so on.

          In order to get to the AutoCorrect Options,
          Click on Files -> Excel Options -> Proofing -> Auto Correct Options.
          Alternatively, the key-board short cut is: ALT+T+A.

          AutoCorrect2

            AutoCorrect Tips and Tricks:

            • To Add an AutoCorrect Shortcut, type the shortcut text in the Replace Field, and type the text that it will expand to in the With Field, and then click Add.
            • To remove an AutoCorrect shortcut, locate the shortcut in the AutoCorrect list and click on Delete.
            • To override AutoCorrect Press CTRL+Z while entering information into the cell
            • To share the AutoCorrect entries with your friends or across machines, simply locate the *.acl file on your hard drive, and copy it to the corresponding location on the other machine.
            • Excel converts email address or web URL entries into hyperlinks using AutoCorrect. To override a single automatic hyperlink, just click Undo (or press Ctrl+Z) after you enter the text. The hyperlink disappears, but the text you entered remains intact. To disable this feature completely, go to AutoCorrect Options -> Click on Tab: Auto Format as you Type -> Disable the check box: “Internet and network paths with hyperlinks” .

            6. AutoComplete to automate Data Entry:

            Excel’s AutoComplete feature makes it easy to enter the same text into multiple cells. Simply type the first few letters of a text entry into a cell and Excel automatically completes the entry, based on other entries that you already made in the column. It helps to not only reduce the typing, but also to maintain consistency in the data entered.

            Auto Complete Tips and Tricks:

            • Auto complete works only on contiguous column of cells, so do not leave blank rows to fully utilize Auto complete’s potential
            • Auto complete changes the case of letters automatically
            • If the column contains multipls entries that match the first few characters, then Auto Complete does not kick off until your entry matches one of them quickly.
            • You can access the Mouse controlled version of Auto Complete by right clicking the cell and choosing the “Pick from Drop Down List” Option.
            • You can access the same drop down list from keyboard by pressing: Shift+F10.

            7. Proofread with Audio

            Excel has a handy text-to-speech capability, that is capable of reading the contents of the cell as you enter it. In addition, it can also read back a specific range of cells.

            To enable the feature in the Quick Access Tool bar:

            • Click on Customize Quick Access Toolbar
            • Select More Commands from the list
            • Choose All Commands from the Dropdown
            • Select all the Cells starting with Speak Cells and Add them to the Quick Access Toolbar, by clicking on Add.

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            AudioProof

              To read a range of cells, select the range of cells, and Click the Speak Cells button.

              You can change the orientation, by clicking on “Speak Cells on Column” or “Speak Cells on Rows”.

              If you wish the excel to speak the contents of the cell as you enter, then click on “Speak Cells on Enter”.

              The below Image shows the symbols for each of the options:

              Have I missed out on some of your favourite tricks on data entry? I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

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              Last Updated on February 15, 2019

              7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

              7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

              Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

              Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

              Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

              So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

              Joe’s Goals

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                Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

                Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

                Daytum

                  Daytum

                  is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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                  Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

                  Excel or Numbers

                    If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                    What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                    Evernote

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                      I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                      Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                      Access or Bento

                        If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                        Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                        You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                        Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                        All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                        Conclusion

                        I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                        What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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