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Ten Tips for working productively in Excel and Google Sheets

  

Ten tips for working productively in Excel and Google Sheets

It can be surprisingly easy to save yourself a bit of time and effort in the workplace just by making use of some of the many brilliant tools that are available in spreadsheet apps. Not everyone uses them (yet!) but they can help everybody work more efficiently. Here are our ten tips for working productively in Excel and Google Sheets.

  1. Working with lists? Use Freeze to fix key columns and rows when you are scrolling

    Make sure you’re in the correct cell depending on which app you’re using:

    Excel

    Click in the cell below the row and in front of the column you want to freeze.
    Then View > Freeze Panes > Freeze Panes.

    Freeze - Excel

    Sheets

    Click in the cell in the row and the column you want to freeze up to and including.
    Then View > Freeze > Up to row # and Up to column #.

    Freeze - Sheets

  2. Need to apply the same formatting to non-consecutive cells?

    Excel / Sheets

    Select the first cell/block of cells, then hold the CTRL key on the keyboard while you select other cells. This also works to select non-consecutive cells for functions such as SUM!

    Selecting non-consecutive cells in Excel/Sheets

  3. Want to copy formatting from one cell to other cells?

    You can do this in an instant – in Excel you use the Format Painter, in Sheets, it’s called Paint Format.

    Excel

    Select a cell containing the formatting you like. Click on the Format Painter button on the toolbar. Then highlight cells you want to copy the formatting to.

    Format Painter in Excel

    Sheets

    Select a cell containing the formatting you like. Click on the Paint Format button on the toolbar. Then highlight cells you want to copy the formatting to.

    Paint Format in Sheets

  4. Need to split data from one column into multiple columns?

    Ensure you have blank columns ready for the split data. Select the column to be split. Then:

    Excel

    Choose Data > Text to columns

    Split to columns in Excel

    choose a separator (space in this case) then click finish

    Split to columns in Excel - outcome

    Sheets

    Choose Data > Split text to columns

    Split to columns in Sheets

    choose a separator (space in this case) then press the Enter key

    Split to columns in Sheets - outcome

  5. Copy the contents from the cell above

    You don’t need to copy and paste or fiddle around with the mouse, just use a keyboard shortcut:

    Excel

    Ctrl ‘ (note on a UK/US keyboard this is the apostrophe to the right of the semi-colon key)

    Copy cell above in Excel

    Sheets

    Ctrl D

    Copy cell above in Sheets

  6. View two places in a workbook at once

    Excel

    You can either :

    a) Split the view of the current worksheet in two by highlighting a column or row then clicking View > Split

    Split view in Excel

    you can now scroll the two parts of the workbook separately

    Split view in Excel - outcome

    or –

    b) View anywhere in the workbook, including a different worksheet, by having two windows open side by side – click View > New Window,

    new window in Excel

    then View – Arrange All

    Arrage windows in Excel

    two copies of the workbook now appear in different windows that can be navigated independently

    Two worksheet windows open in Excel

    Sheets

    There are no menu options in Sheets as there are in Excel, how there is a simple solution to this – you can replicate either of the above by simply having two browser windows open at once side-by-side, with the same URL in each!

    Two browser windows open in Sheets

  7. Editing keyboard shortcuts

    Excel / Sheets

    if you don’t know this one you really ought to…

    Ctrl X to cut

    Ctrl C to copy

    Ctrl V to paste

    (these work on most other apps too – if you right-click you’ll usually see them appear as options)

    keyboard shortcuts for cut / copy / paste

  8. Clear formatting from cells

    Excel

    In the Home tab of the ribbon click Clear – Clear Formats

    clear formats in Excel

    Sheets

    From the menu select Format – Clear Formatting

    clear formats in Sheets

  9. Select from a cell to the end of a row or column in the current data set

    Excel / Sheets

    Click on the starting cell, then hold the Shift & Ctrl keys and press the relevant arrow key (up, down, left or right) to select the cells. It will stop the selection when it reaches the end of the data set or hits a gap.

    selecting to the end of a row of data Sheets

    (Example 1: user has selected cell D6 and pressed Shift Ctrl ⇒)

    selecting to the end of a column of data Sheets

    (Example 2: user has selected cell D6 and pressed Shift Ctrl ⇓)

  10. Select the whole data set

    Excel / Sheets

    Click anywhere in the data and press Ctrl A on the keyboard to select the entire data set

    selecting the whole data set in Sheets

Bonus Tip – more keyboard shortcuts!

  • Excel

    Pressing Alt allows you to access any visible menu command by following the on-screen prompts to navigate to a menu tab then a command.

    Step 1: press Alt once to show the menu tabs (and other options) that can be selected by pressing the appropriate key

    using Alt in Excel to access menu commands from the keyboard - step 1

    Step 2: after pressing a key (H for Home in the above example) to choose a menu tab, you’ll now see the menu commands that can be accessed with the appropriate key(s)

    using Alt in Excel to access menu commands from the keyboard - step 2

    Sheets

    Pressing Ctrl / (forward slash not backslash!) brings up a list of all keyboard shortcuts that you can turn on and access at any time.

    pressing Ctrl / in Sheets to view keyboard commands

Thanks for reading our ten tips for working productively in Excel and Google Sheets

There we go! We hope our tips help you get the most out of your spreadsheet apps and become more productive in the workplace.

If you’d like to see more hints and tips on how to get the best out of the software and apps you use every day, why not join our mailing list or take a look at our YouTube channel for regular updates!

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