Ten Tips for Using Excel

By Staff Writer Published on May 17, 2018

Microsoft Excel is the world’s leading program for creating spreadsheets and manipulating data, but it is so much more than that. In terms of what you can do with Excel, the number of possibilities is virtually endless. Make a simple list, formulate a dynamic calculator, create clean reports with informative visuals, and the list goes on and on.

Because Excel provides efficiency, accuracy, and time-saving functions, understanding how to use the program can be a great benefit to you. Not only can you use Excel to improve and simplify your daily routine, but you can also use it to improve your job performance:

  • Impress your clients with professional reports complete with charts, graphs, and other helpful visuals.
  • Catch the boss’s eye with your new time-saving spreadsheet formula.
  • Wow your coworkers with your quick modification and retrieval of time-sensitive data.

You’ll be the office superstar!

Unfortunately, because Excel offers such an extensive list of features, the program is extremely complex and almost impossible to master. Very few people in the world today have the time and determination that it takes to be able to identify and properly use every last function that Excel has to offer. There are entire books dedicated to the subject of mastering this program!

Before you take on the truly complex scenarios of using Microsoft’s spreadsheet program, first master the essentials with these ten tips to increase your Excel performance!

Tip #1: Data Select

Selecting a data set will be a primary task during your time in Excel, so why not speed up the process with a classic keyboard shortcut? Select ctrl+shift+* to immediately select the entire data set. If you want a portion of the data, you can click on the first column you’d like to select, hold ctrl+shift and hit the arrow keys in the direction of the cells you want to add to your data selection. You can also use ctrl+shift+end to select everything between the cell you last clicked on and the data-containing cell at the lowest right-hand corner.

Tip #2: Autofill

AutoFill is a game-changer for anyone who must frequently enter repetitive data sets into a spreadsheet. Instead of typing row after row of identical information or copying and pasting cell after cell, use the autofill feature!

  • Begin your series
  • Hover your cursor over the bottom right-hand corner of the completed cell until the + sign appears there
  • Click and drag your cursor to select the cells you want to fill


Tip #3: Convert Text to Columns

Excel makes it incredibly simple to turn one column of information into several columns of more specific data. For example, if you’ve created a list of names, but you want to separate them into two columns of first names and last names, you can ask Excel to do it for you! All you have to do is select the data, click the Data tab at the top of the program, click Text to Columns, then choose how you want to separate the data! (By spaces, commas, etc.)

Tip #4: Convert Columns Into Rows (Or Vice Versa)

Sometimes you get halfway into a spreadsheet and realize that you should have done it differently. The punishment for this used to be redoing the whole thing or copying one cell at a time, but not anymore! You can convert columns into rows or rows into columns by copying the data, selecting Paste Special, and checking the Transpose box in the bottom right-hand corner of the pop-up!

Tip #5: Save Chart Templates

When it comes to creating charts and graphs in Excel, there is almost no limit to how many ways you can customize it to cater to your exact data set and situation. Creating chart after chart is painfully time-consuming, so create a template! Complete your chart, right-click it, and save it as an Excel template using a CRTX extension.

You can find this template for easy use by clicking Insert, Recommended Charts, All Charts, and lastly, the templates folder.

Tip #6: Simplify Your View

You may be proud of the extensive spreadsheet you created with your handy Excel skills, but all that data can be overwhelming and difficult to sort through when you’re trying to find a small portion of information. You can remove cells, rows, and data sets from your view without deleting them. Select what you’d like to hide, right-click, and click Hide. Easy!

Tip #7: Hide Categories

Another simple way to clean up your view is to hide entire categories. Once your data is formatted into a table with headers, you can temporarily remove categories from your site with the following steps:

  • Find the row containing the categories you’d like to hide.
  • Click on the drop-down arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the header over the row you’ve chosen.
  • Uncheck the boxes of the categories you do not want displayed.
  • Reverse the action by checking (select all) at the top of the list of categories.

Tip #8: PivotTables

Pivot tables are extremely useful for analyzing an extensive collection of data. We suggest you take the time to mess around with different PivotTables, including Excel’s recommended PivotTables. This handy feature allows you to break down large datasets into more specific displays so you can get down to the core of your records.

Tip #9: Insert a Screenshot

Excel provides an incredibly easy way to insert a crisp screenshot of whatever program you currently have open on your desktop. Click on the Insert Tab, click Screenshot, and select the one you want to add to your document!

Tip #10: Learn Shortcut Keys

Excel comes with many time-saving shortcut keys to boost your efficiency. Learn them, copy them on a sticky note to keep by your computer, and practice using them during your next few Excel sessions.

Learning how to use Microsoft Excel is an invaluable skill, one that will transfer to many different job opportunities and real-life scenarios. If you possess the desire to learn and add more impressive real-life skills and abilities to your resume, learn more about the degree programs at Independence University!