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Free tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office and Windows

Microsoft Excel

Without a doubt, the most popular data analysis tool on the planet! Check out these articles designed to provide you with tips and tricks on how to use the amazing features of Microsoft Excel.

Want to learn a new Excel formula, or need to know how to use conditional formatting? Look no further and browse through the range of articles below.

How to create a drop down list in Excel

How to create a drop down list in Excel

When you are entering data in Excel you may want to ensure your data is entered in a consistent way. Maybe you have multiple people working on the same file and you are constantly having to correct entries due to ...
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How to use Countif in Excel

How to use Countif in Excel

When working with large amounts of data in Excel, you can find yourself needing to count the number of records which meet specific criteria. This is when the Excel Countif function is going to come in very handy and save ...
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Conditional formatting an entire row

How to conditional format an entire row based on dates older than today

It seems my conditional formatting posts have become quite popular and with that, I've had some amazing questions asked about variations of how to use conditional formatting. If you haven't already taken a look at my other conditional formatting posts, ...
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Conditional Formatting date ranges

Use conditional formatting to identify dates within a specific range

My conditional formatting to identify dates earlier than today post has proven to be extremely popular. This post talks about how to conditional format dates within occur in the past. I have had plenty of questions and comments based on ...
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BIDMAS acronym

Excel giving you the wrong answer? Discover BIDMAS and Excel

An important part of understanding how Excel calculates formulas and functions is understanding BIDMAS. Let's think back to math class. I remember the teacher talking about BIDMAS and vividly thinking that I'd never need to use it. Attend any Excel ...
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Create a custom list in Excel

How to store a custom list in Excel

Do you have a list of entries you use frequently in Excel? Sick of having to type them in or copy and paste from another workbook? What if I told you that you could save these entries as a custom ...
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Pin a file or folder to the Open list

Save time! Pin a file to the Open list in Microsoft Office

At the start of every training course, I show participants through a few really useful features of the Microsoft Office programs. These features save you time during a busy workday. One such feature is AutoCorrect, another is the ability to ...
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Use conditional formatting to identify dates earlier than today

Use conditional formatting to identify dates earlier than today

During a Microsoft Excel training session a few week's ago, I had a great question about using conditional formatting to highlight dates earlier than the current one, in other words, how can we highlight dates that occur in the past? This was a ...
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Embed Excel in a Word Document

Embed an Excel worksheet within your Word document

Whenever I run Excel or Word training a common question pops up. What is the best way to add Excel data into a Word document? Like many things related to Microsoft Office, there are several different ways to achieve this ...
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The best keyboard shortcuts in Excel

The best keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Excel

Want to become more efficient using Excel? Let me show you the best keyboard shortcuts in Excel. Anyone who has ever attended training with me, or even anyone who has read my other “shortcut key” posts, should know that I ...
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How to disable the Start Screen at startup in Office programs

How to disable the Start Screen at startup in Office programs

In recent versions of the Microsoft Office programs, users now see a Start screen appear when any of the programs are launched. This Start Screen gives you quick access to various functions such as any recent files you have opened ...
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How to open any Microsoft Office program

How to open any Microsoft Office product

For those starting out using Microsoft Office and even for those familiar with the programs, our computers can sometimes be a treasure trove full of so many programs that it's impossible to find the one we want. Being able to ...
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How to copy formatting using Format Painter

How to copy formatting using Format Painter

Whenever I conduct a training course in any of the Microsoft products, I always touch on the Clipboard group of tools. These include the Cut, Copy and Paste functions and almost all users have some type of experience using these ...
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How to use the AutoFill tool in Excel

How to use the AutoFill tool in Excel

Of all the features available within Microsoft Excel, the AutoFill tool has to be high up on the list of those used most frequently. Often though the AutoFill feature is underutilised and users do not know the full potential of ...
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Convert workbooks to the latest file format in Excel

Convert workbooks to the latest file format in Excel

A common question I see during training is “Why do my files say [Compatibility Mode] in the title bar area?” and this is a good question. Today I want to explain Compatibility Mode and file formats in relation to Microsoft ...
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Customise a Sparkline in Excel

Customise a Sparkline in Excel

So you've discovered Sparklines in Microsoft Excel and now you want to jazz them up? You've come to the right place. In my previous post (link here) I outlined what a Sparkline was and how to insert one into your ...
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Create a Sparkline to show data trends in Excel

I can hear you asking it now, what is a Sparkline? It's a very good question which I'm going to answer for you now. Sparklines were introduced in Excel 2010 and are a great feature for those who prefer a ...
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Create a Vlookup function in Excel

A common request in Excel training courses is to learn how to create an Excel vlookup formula. Many people have heard about the Excel VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP functions but have unsuccessfully attempted to use them. This post is going to ...
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How to create a screenshot using Office or Windows

For years I have been creating screenshots for various reasons; for use in training courseware; to illustrate to a remote user a button I want them to press; to relay information about a technical problem or error, and the list ...
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Create a quick chart in Excel

Create a quick and easy chart in Excel

Microsoft Excel provides a great way to summarise and analyse data within a spreadsheet using charts. Charts provide a graphical representation of data and allow you to highlight important information or trends that occur. I’ve said this before and I’m ...
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Introduction to Functions in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is a fantastic program allowing you to collate, analyse and sort data in various formats. Gone are the days of needing a calculator beside you to manually work out results from your data analysis. Microsoft Excel has the ...
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Microsoft Clipboard - a hidden treasure

The Office Clipboard – a hidden treasure

A common feature used within all of the Microsoft Office applications is the cut, copy and paste feature. I personally use this A LOT. The ability to cut, copy and paste within any of the applications and also between different ...
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Quick Access toolbar customisation

Customise the Quick Access Toolbar

At the start of almost every Microsoft course I teach, I discuss the options you have to customise any of the Microsoft Office products. The Quick Access toolbar (QAT) is right up there on my list of favourite ways I ...
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How to use Concatenate in Excel

How to use Concatenate in Excel

This week I had a request to show how to join text together from different columns in Excel. For this example, the Concatenate function in Excel works perfectly as it allows you to join strings of information together dynamically. The ...
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Formula Basics in Excel

Formula Basics in Excel

For anyone who is completely new to Excel or is wanting to venture into the world of formulas and functions, this post is here to give you some basic tips and tricks to get started. I’ve been surprised numerous times ...
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Create a PDF using Microsoft Office

Create a PDF file using Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office has the fantastic ability to create a PDF file for you. I’ve always been surprised at how many people are still unfamiliar that this function is now built-in to Office. Prior to Microsoft Office version 2010 the ability ...
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Using AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office

How to use AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office provides features which help to reduce typing errors whilst you work. AutoCorrect is one of those features and is set up by default to correct common spelling and punctuation errors. Errors including irregular capitalisation, or commonly misspelt words ...
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Navigating Microsoft Excel

Navigating within an Excel Workbook

When working in Microsoft Excel there are several references or names which will appear on a regular basis, as well as different methods for navigating within the program. Which navigation option users choose mainly depends on personal preference however it ...
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Excel 2016 Window

Terminology in the Excel window

Let's take a look now at the terminology and names of the various areas within the Microsoft Excel 2016 window. Even if you have been an avid user of Excel for a long period, it's always a good idea to ...
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Conditional Formatting in Excel

How to use conditional formatting in Excel

Conditional formatting is one of my favourite parts of Microsoft Excel. I am a very visual person and would much rather look at colour charts or visual representations of data to give me a sense of what I'm looking at ...
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Create Custom Number Formats in Excel

Create a custom number format to display phone numbers in Excel

Microsoft Excel provides various number formats allowing you to easily format numbers as currency, dates, percentages, time and even fractions. Occasionally you may run into a situation where the predefined number formats do not suit your needs for a range ...
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