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Using Excel for Your Business

Technology has made doing business a lot easier. From the feasibility study phase to the marketing phase to the performance evaluation stage, there are modern gadgets, apps, software and other tools that make everything run smoothly. One of these programs is Excel.

But whether it’s Microsoft Excel 2008 that you are using or 2004, you can use some basic tricks to make your daily tasks even easier. Whatever your tasks will be – be it custom sorting, entering data, or using colors, there are tricks that you can use. In many countries, including Denmark, employees are given IT training to make them more efficient in their job. Companies hire the services of IT training and consultancy firms as part of their employee development program.

Using Excel for Your Business

The following are five of the most effective tips that these IT training companies provide employees regarding the use of Excel in their work:

1. Customizing Sort Orders

Excel provides your business with several sort options for texts, dates, numbers, and so on, when we talk about sorting data. These are standard options. However, there are times that you will need something beyond these built-in choices. For example, your business may require that you organize your expenses by season, with summer as first in the list, instead of the usual alphabetical order of fall, spring, summer and winter. Excel allows you to create a custom sort list.

2. Constraining Keyboard Cell Selection

In entering data, everything is about speed. You definitely have experienced being slowed down in your work by your lack of command of the program. Let’s say you are encoding data into a three by ten block of cells. If you go from the last cell in one column or row to the next column’s first cell, you will have to select that particular cell with your mouse.

But there’s a time-saving alternative to this: You drag across the block of cells that you’ve selected before you enter the data. In moving across a row, use the Tab key. Use the Return key if you move down a column. Upon reaching the edge of the block, you press that key one more time in order to jump from the beginning of the next column or row. If you want to jump back to the previous column or row upon reaching the end of the selection, you can use the Shift-Tab and the Shift-Return.

3. Forcing Line Break in a Cell

When using Excel, you sometimes experience having a text spill of one cell to another. You can actually prevent this if you format the cell for the purpose of text wrapping. It doesn’t mean, however, that your text will have to break where you intended it to be. Goals for, let’s say, 1st quarter might end up as “Goals for 1st/Quarter, instead of the more preferable “Goals for/1stQuarter. There’s a simple solution to that. Click in the area that you intend to split the line then press Control-Option-Return. This will force the text to break where you want it.

4. Replacing Standard Colors

You can quickly add visual interest or clarity to a spreadsheet by the use of colored text or cells. You might have noticed how some of your presentations don’t look that interesting. That’s partly because your failure to use colors in your presentation. But unfortunately, so much is lacking in the selection of garish colors in the standard palette’s selection. But there’s no cause to worry, because you can change the choices to those that you find more usable.

5. Creating Alternating Row Colors

In case you need to use in worksheet stripes of different colors, you need to do this yourself. The table’s AutoFormat feature allows you to add lines that are shaded. However, if you sort your table or delete a row, what you’ll get is a patchwork of plain and shaded cells. The ledger sheet templates of Excel 2008’s ledger sheet won’t be a solution too, since they come only in white and green. They affect the whole worksheet and there are built-in calculations.

What you can do is use conditional formatting. What this method uses is the MOD function. The MOD function calculates if a cell is in an odd-numbered or even-numbered row. It then shades only the rows that are even. If you use this method, you may delete or add rows, and copy-paste cells all you want.

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