Using Dashboards to Visualize Data

Everyone knows that images can explain complex topics better than words alone – “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  This concept applies even more to Excel worksheets.  In workshops I lead, I often get questions about creating charts or graphs as ways to show data in a visual form.  Users more familiar with Excel have used dashboards for years to display data in one location.  Association for Talent Development has an article in this […]

Formatting a Range as a Table

Tables have several advantages over a range of data  If you are trying to use data from multiple sheets in a pivot table or in BI presentation ranges won’t work and you will have to convert those ranges into tables.  The best part is that they can be easy to create.   To change a range into a table: Either click one cell in the in the range or select the entire range you want […]

Excel Drop-Downs

If you have an Excel sheet that other people add data to, drop downs can both speed up their data entry and keep your data free of spelling mistakes.  The process of creating a drop down is fairly simple with only a few guidelines to remember: Drop down guidelines: The list used to create the drop down has to be somewhere accessible by list (usually in the same workbook). The list used to create the […]

Should I Use Excel Vs Database To Handle My Data?

I recently finished a project for a small cemetery district.  They were trying to get an update listing of the plots, which ones were sold and which ones were not, which ones were occupied and which ones vacant, and the veteran status of those already interned.  The larger of the two cemeteries in the district had almost 400 spaces which, if people had been cremated instead of traditional internment, could have as many as four […]

How Well Do You Know Excel

I got back last week from an onsite Advanced Excel training.  The curriculum was designed as a two day/12 hour workshop but the client had only one day to devote to training.  The specific topics were discussed prior to the training with what should be highlighted and what should be left out identified.  Unfortunately there were a couple of issues from the previous training that needed to be cleared up, and the level of comfort […]

What is Excel really used for? Three Questions to answer before choosing your data software.

In many of the trainings I do, one of the major misunderstandings is what Excel is really designed to do. Excel is a great spreadsheet program that, compared to other applications, is fairly easy to learn. Another major appeal is how feature rich the program is. Microsoft has added capabilities far beyond the original intention of a spreadsheet program. Therein lies the problem. Just because a program can do a task doesn’t mean it is […]

Tell a Story

One of the questions I have been asked several times recently in Excel trainings is “How do I set up my worksheet?” The best way I can answer that is to ask the questioner what is the story problem they are trying to answer. Most of us have bad memories of story problems in middle school math but that is the best way to determine how to set up a spreadsheet. One of the examples […]

Welcome to Excel Mechanic

This blog is a place where we respond to questions that have come up during our Excel training classes and give advice of how to better use one of the most widely used productivity applications.