About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

April 9, 2013

Office 2013-Excel, Part 1

Before we start on Excel 2013 today, please accept my apology.  Last week when describing "collapsing headings" in Word 2013 I stated, "…when you hover over that created section a small triangle appears to the right of the text."  That should actually be the "to the left of the text." Thanks to the users who caught me and wrote in.

This column will be more for those who have previous experience in Excel, since it is a more unique program that Word or Internet Explorer but anyone may read on and learn.

In my opinion the first and best addition to Excel is the new "Flash Fill" feature.  In the olden days if you had a column with first, middle and last names all together in one cell and you needed to separate the individual names out you had to use the "Text to Column" command in the Data tab.  You can do this much easier with Excel’s new predictive ability to recognize patterns.

Name combinationsNext to the column with the complete names in it, insert a blank column.  Now type in the name you want to "pull" out, say the last name.  I would type "Doyle" next to the cell containing "Ron Doyle."  Then, click the Home tab, "Fill" and from the dropdown box click "Fill Flash."  The last names of everyone else in the list will be entered into that that column immediately.  If you want to do the same thing to the first names, go to the next empty column and type the first name of one person and follow the same procedure.  Bang!  They are now all entered.  Now for an old-timer in Excel like me (this is my favorite MS Application if I have not mentioned that before) you can even turn that scenario around.

Flash FillSay that the first, middle and last names are entered into separate cells and you need to combine them.  If you are familiar with "Concatenation" you know the old way but now you do it just as above.  Type in one person’s complete name in a cell, run the "Fill Flash" feature again and all of the names are joined together in the column.  I think this is a remarkable new feature.



Choose from multiple Pivot TablesNow let’s talk about the most amazing addition to Excel 2013.  If you are a Pivot Table user you know that you basically have to "play" with them and keep experimenting in order to get the information you actually need from them.  Now with the new pivot tables you can start out way ahead of the curve on creating new pivot table data.  As before, you click in a cell of the data you want to use, go to the Insert tab but now click, "Recommended Pivot Tables."  A list of a few to many sample pivot tables will present themselves. This is dependent on how much raw data is available.  Now double click on the one you like and it is immediately created.  If you need to adjust it at all do that the same way you used to.  Pivot tables are one of the only things I did not like before in Excel since they were so convoluted.  But now they are a snap.

That ends if for Excel 2013 today.  I hope to see you back here next week!

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