Category Archives: Excel Training

The Excel Status Bar

Discover some useful options available in the Excel status bar

The Excel status bar, which is located at the bottom right side of the Excel screen, is an often overlooked but informative feature in Excel. For example say you wanted to find the total, or average of a selection of cells, the status bar is quickest place to get the answer.

Let’s look at some of the different options available:

If you right click the status bar you get a list of options. Just tick or untick the options depending on what you will like to see in the status bar.

task bar options

If you want statistical information from selected cells in your worksheet you can tick Average, Count, Numerical count, Minimum, Maximum & Sum. Now every time you select cells in Excel you can read the statistical information in the status bar.

task bar show

If you are recording macros you can tick Macro Recording and the record macro button will be conveniently accessible in the status bar.

You can also declutter the Excel status bar by removing tools you don’t use. If you untick the View Shortcuts option you will remove the three shortcuts to change between Normal view, Page Break Preview & Page Layout view to the right on the status bar.
If you untick Zoom the zoom percentage will disappear from the right side of the status bar. You can also remove the Zoom Slider from the status bar.

Additional resources

Displaying text on the status bar

Status bar functions

Excel status bar options



Using Subtotal in Excel

Summarise data quickly by using Subtotal

Excel’s subtotal feature provides a quick and easy way of summarising tabular data.  A common use of the feature is to display only the totals for different categories.

For example suppose you want to calculate and display only the total units for each product from data (partly shown below)


Step 1 Sort the data by the Product field.
Click inside the Product column and click Data, AZ button.


Step 2 Then click anywhere inside the table and select Data, Subtotal.


Step 3 From the Subtotal dialog select Product as the ‘At change in’ field and Sum as the function. Use Count if you want to display the number of transactions of each Product.
Click OK to automatically inserts total rows below each change in Products.

Step 4 Uncheck Summary below to add totals above each change.

The subtotal feature creates small outline buttons 1,2,3 at the top left of the screen.
Clicking button 2 shows only the Product totals and hides the transaction details.


Clicking a + symbol expands the details for a particular product.
Clicking button 1 shows only the grand total while button 3 shows all the data including the subtotals.

Removing Subtotals

To remove the subtotals completely select any cell in the summary.

  • Select Data, Subtotal, Remove All.

Continue reading

Using the Concatenate Function in Excel

The concatenate function quickly links the content of two or more cells

The concatenate function in Excel allows you to join text strings from different cells (like first name and last name) which can be very useful. It can be used with a number of other Excel functions.

You can concatenate in Excel by using the Concatenate function or use &. First we will have a look at the Concatenate function.

Step 1 Select the cell in which you want to concatenate text strings. You can type the formula =concatenate(B3,” “,C3) and click OK. You can also open the function dialogue box shown below and add the information.


Step 2  Click OK and the text string will be concatenated. If you need a blank space between two text strings you can do it by using ” ”  (quotation mark + space + quotation mark) for one of the text values (see example above).

You can also concatenate text strings by selecting the cell where you want text strings to be concatenated and type = the cell reference & ” ” & the second cell reference & ” ” & the third cell reference etc.

concatenate with emp

Nest the concatenate function in other useful functions.

If you work with the VLOOKUP function you may need to lookup a value based on information from two or more cells then you can just nest the Concatenate function in the VLOOKUP function or if you want to test values from two cells in an If function you again can concatenate values from the two cells.

In the example below the full name needs to be tested in an IF function. The Concatenate function is nested in the Logical_Test in the IF function.

concatenate if

In the example below the full name needs to be found in the commission table to return the correct commission rate.. The Concatenate function is nested in the Lookup_Value in a VLOOKUP function.

concatenate vlookup

 Related resources:

How to use a VLOOKUP function in Excel VBA

The concatenate function

How to Create Better Excel Spreadsheets: Part Two

Pie Chart Segment

Pull out a segment in an Excel pie chart

Pie charts are great for visually showing categories. Occasionally we might want to emphasise a segment. To do this, we can pull out a pie chart segment!

1 – Create a Pie Chart

Start by selecting your data, going to the Insert tab along the Ribbon and choosing Pie from the Charts subgroup.

Insert Pie







2 – Drag a Segment

Click on the middle of the Pie Chart to select it. Now click and drag a segment out. In this example we wish to draw out the “Net Worth” pie chart segment.

Click Pie Then Drag Segment









You now have a Pie chart with a single segment emphasised.

Finished Pie










As you can see this is a very quick way to draw attention to a particular pie chart segment. Read on below for further information on working with pie charts and display options available.


Changing Excel chart types

Explode or expand a pie chart



15 Excel Keyboard Shortcuts worth knowing

Save hours in Excel: spend a few minutes learning these shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are great time-savers; allowing you to shave seconds off a task, but ultimately saving hours in the long run. This is especially true when you are working with Excel.  There are over 200 Excel keyboard shortcuts that you can use, here we have selected 15 most commonly used shortcuts. Using these shortcuts will make you faster in Excel, thus saving you valuable time.

1 – Switching Between Sheets

Working with multiple worksheets? Try using this Ctrl+PgUp or Ctrl+PgDn, instead of clicking on the tabs for each sheet. Hold Ctrl to scroll through multiple sheets.

Switch between worksheets - Ctrl PgDn or Ctrl PgUp

Sheet Change


2 – Currency Format

You can use Ctrl+Shift+$ to apply the Currency format (With two decimals places). Select the cells and apply. Great for Totals!

Currency Format Ctrl+Shift+$

Currency Format


3 – Absolute References

If you are writing a formula that needs to point to a fixed cell reference A1, then we would want to make that “absolute” by adding $A$1. The $ locks the row and column. As you type the cell reference, use the shortcut F4 to automatically make it “absolute” by adding in the $ signs.

Absolute Reference

Relative then Absolute


4 – Find

It can be useful to search the worksheet or workbook for values or names. Use Ctrl+F to bring up the Find and Replace dialog box. This can save valuable time when you are hunting for something specific.

Ctrl+ F



5 – New Blank Workbook

When you need a New Blank Workbook, don’t go to File/New try Ctrl+N instead

New Workbook


New Blank Workbook


6 – Print

When you want to print, use Ctrl+P to open up the Print options rather than clicking on File and heading down to the Print Tab.


Print Icon


7 - Save

Saving your work in Excel is essential. You can use Ctrl + S as you work to make sure your everything is safely saved.



8 – Save As

If you want to Save As (to create a copy) try F12 instead





9 - Editing a Cell

Editing the current cell: you could double click on it, or go up to the formula bar. Save time by using F2.


Edit Cell option

If you make a mistake while editing a formula or want to cancel what you are doing, don’t click off. Press Esc



10 - Automatically Generate a Chart

When you have formatted your data and are ready to insert a chart. Rather than heading to Insert and selecting Chart, just use F11. It will automatically use the data around the active cell (where you are clicked). The Chart will be generated in a new worksheet.




11 – Home

As you move around large worksheets, you might want to return to the top left of the data. Ctrl+Home takes you back to A1, faster than scrolling back up.


Home example


12 – Select All

Selecting and entire range of data would usually involve clicking and dragging. If that data region was large you could spend time scrolling down the page. Click into the data and use Ctrl+A to select the entire region of data, press again to select the entire worksheet. Great for quickly selecting an entire table

Select All

Select All Example 1


13 – AutoSum

Rather than writing the formula to Sum up a range, you can use AutoSumAutoSum

This Function automatically applies the Sum function to calculate the neighbouring cells. Try selecting the cell where you require the total, and use the shortcut  Alt+=.






Autosum Example












14 – Copy/Cut and Paste

Select the cells you want to Copy then use Ctrl+C.







Then Paste it with Ctrl+V.


Paste example 1





If you want to cut the cells, use Ctrl+X






Then paste using Ctrl+V


Cut example





15 – Show Formulas

When comparing Formulas on a sheet, it can help if the cell displays the formula  rather than the Value. This option is in the Formula Tab/ Formula Auditing/Display Formulas. Alternatively you can use the shortcut Ctrl+¬ (¬ or the ‘Pipe Key’ is located just above Tab and next to 1 on the keyboard).

Show Formulas








These keyboard shortcuts are but the tip of the Excel iceberg and there are plenty more productivity gains to be had. Check out these resources for further Excel keyboard shortcuts.

The Definitive Guide to Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts in Excel

Definitive Guide to Excel Shortcuts

The Definitive Guide to Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can be a real productivity booster, here’s a comprehensive list to serve almost any situation that arises in Excel.

CTRL combination Excel shortcut keys

Key Description
CTRL+SHIFT+( Unhides any hidden rows within the selection.
CTRL+SHIFT+) Unhides any hidden columns within the selection.
CTRL+SHIFT+& Applies the outline border to the selected cells.
CTRL+SHIFT_ Removes the outline border from the selected cells.
CTRL+SHIFT+~ Applies the General number format.
CTRL+SHIFT+$ Applies the Currency format with two decimal places (negative numbers in parentheses).
CTRL+SHIFT+% Applies the Percentage format with no decimal places.
CTRL+SHIFT+^ Applies the Exponential number format with two decimal places.
CTRL+SHIFT+# Applies the Date format with the day, month, and year.
CTRL+SHIFT+@ Applies the Time format with the hour and minute, and AM or PM.
CTRL+SHIFT+! Applies the Number format with two decimal places, thousands separator, and minus sign (-) for negative values.
CTRL+SHIFT+* Selects the current region around the active cell (the data area enclosed by blank rows and blank columns).In a PivotTable, it selects the entire PivotTable report.
CTRL+SHIFT+: Enters the current time.
CTRL+SHIFT+” Copies the value from the cell above the active cell into the cell or the Formula Bar.
CTRL+SHIFT+Plus (+) Displays the Insert dialogue box to insert blank cells.
CTRL+Minus (-) Displays the Delete dialogue box to delete the selected cells.
CTRL+; Enters the current date.
CTRL+` Alternates between displaying cell values and displaying formulas in the worksheet.
CTRL+’ Copies a formula from the cell above the active cell into the cell or the Formula Bar.
CTRL+1 Displays the Format Cells dialogue box.
CTRL+2 Applies or removes bold formatting.
CTRL+3 Applies or removes italic formatting.
CTRL+4 Applies or removes underlining.
CTRL+5 Applies or removes strikethrough.
CTRL+6 Alternates between hiding objects, displaying objects, and displaying placeholders for objects.
CTRL+8 Displays or hides the outline symbols.
CTRL+9 Hides the selected rows.
CTRL+0 Hides the selected columns.
CTRL+A Selects the entire worksheet.If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the current region and its summary rows. Pressing CTRL+A a third time selects the entire worksheet.When the insertion point is to the right of a function name in a formula, displays the Function Arguments dialogue box.CTRL+SHIFT+A inserts the argument names and parentheses when the insertion point is to the right of a function name in a formula.
CTRL+B Applies or removes bold formatting.
CTRL+C Copies the selected cells.CTRL+C followed by another CTRL+C displays the Clipboard.
CTRL+D Uses the Fill Down command to copy the contents and format of the topmost cell of a selected range into the cells below.
CTRL+F Displays the Find and Replace dialogue box, with the Find tab selected.SHIFT+F5 also displays this tab, while SHIFT+F4 repeats the last Find action.CTRL+SHIFT+F opens the Format Cells dialogue box with the Font tab selected.
CTRL+G Displays the Go To dialogue box.F5 also displays this dialogue box.
CTRL+H Displays the Find and Replace dialogue box, with the Replace tab selected.
CTRL+I Applies or removes italic formatting.
CTRL+K Displays the Insert Hyperlink dialogue box for new hyperlinks or the Edit Hyperlink dialogue box for selected existing hyperlinks.
CTRL+N Creates a new, blank workbook.
CTRL+O Displays the Open dialogue box to open or find a file.CTRL+SHIFT+O selects all cells that contain comments.
CTRL+P Displays the Print dialogue box.CTRL+SHIFT+P opens the Format Cells dialogue box with the Font tab selected.
CTRL+R Uses the Fill Right command to copy the contents and format of the leftmost cell of a selected range into the cells to the right.
CTRL+S Saves the active file with its current file name, location, and file format.
CTRL+T Displays the Create Table dialogue box.
CTRL+U Applies or removes underlining.CTRL+SHIFT+U switches between expanding and collapsing of the formula bar.
CTRL+V Inserts the contents of the Clipboard at the insertion point and replaces any selection. Available only after you have cut or copied an object, text, or cell contents.CTRL+ALT+V displays the Paste Special dialogue box. Available only after you have cut or copied an object, text, or cell contents on a worksheet or in another program.
CTRL+W Closes the selected workbook window.
CTRL+X Cuts the selected cells.
CTRL+Y Repeats the last command or action, if possible.
CTRL+Z Uses the Undo command to reverse the last command or to delete the last entry that you typed.CTRL+SHIFT+Z uses the Undo or Redo command to reverse or restore the last automatic correction when AutoCorrect Smart Tags are displayed.

Function keys

Key Description
F1 Displays the Microsoft Office Excel Help task pane.CTRL+F1 displays or hides the Ribbon, a component of the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface.ALT+F1 creates a chart of the data in the current range.ALT+SHIFT+F1 inserts a new worksheet.
F2 Edits the active cell and positions the insertion point at the end of the cell contents. It also moves the insertion point into the Formula Bar when editing in a cell is turned off.SHIFT+F2 adds or edits a cell comment.CTRL+F2 displays the Print Preview window.
F3 Displays the Paste Name dialogue box.SHIFT+F3 displays the Insert Function dialogue box.
F4 Repeats the last command or action, if possible.CTRL+F4 closes the selected workbook window.
F5 Displays the Go To dialogue box.CTRL+F5 restores the window size of the selected workbook window.
F6 Switches between the worksheet, Ribbon, task pane, and Zoom controls. In a worksheet that has been split (View menu, Manage This Window, Freeze Panes, Split Window command), F6 includes the split panes when switching between panes and the Ribbon area.SHIFT+F6 switches between the worksheet, Zoom controls, task pane, and Ribbon.CTRL+F6 switches to the next workbook window when more than one workbook window is open.
F7 Displays the Spelling dialogue box to check spelling in the active worksheet or selected range.CTRL+F7 performs the Move command on the workbook window when it is not maximized. Use the arrow keys to move the window, and when finished press ENTER, or ESC to cancel.
F8 Turns extend mode on or off. In extend mode, Extended Selection appears in the status line, and the arrow keys extend the selection.SHIFT+F8 enables you to add a nonadjacent cell or range to a selection of cells by using the arrow keys.CTRL+F8 performs the Size command (on the Control menu for the workbook window) when a workbook is not maximized.ALT+F8 displays the Macro dialogue box to create, run, edit, or delete a macro.
F9 Calculates all worksheets in all open workbooks.SHIFT+F9 calculates the active worksheet.CTRL+ALT+F9 calculates all worksheets in all open workbooks, regardless of whether they have changed since the last calculation.CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+F9 rechecks dependent formulas, and then calculates all cells in all open workbooks, including cells not marked as needing to be calculated.CTRL+F9 minimizes a workbook window to an icon.
F10 Turns key tips on or off.SHIFT+F10 displays the shortcut menu for a selected item.ALT+SHIFT+F10 displays the menu or message for a smart tag. If more than one smart tag is present, it switches to the next smart tag and displays its menu or message.CTRL+F10 maximizes or restores the selected workbook window.
F11 Creates a chart of the data in the current range.SHIFT+F11 inserts a new worksheet.ALT+F11 opens the Microsoft Visual Basic Editor, in which you can create a macro by using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).
F12 Displays the Save As dialogue box.


Other useful shortcut keys

Key Description
ARROW KEYS Move one cell up, down, left, or right in a worksheet.CTRL+ARROW KEY moves to the edge of the current data region (data region: A range of cells that contains data and that is bounded by empty cells or datasheet borders.) in a worksheet.SHIFT+ARROW KEY extends the selection of cells by one cell.CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY extends the selection of cells to the last nonblank cell in the same column or row as the active cell, or if the next cell is blank, extends the selection to the next nonblank cell.LEFT ARROW or RIGHT ARROW selects the tab to the left or right when the Ribbon is selected. When a submenu is open or selected, these arrow keys switch between the main menu and the submenu. When a Ribbon tab is selected, these keys navigate the tab buttons.

DOWN ARROW or UP ARROW selects the next or previous command when a menu or submenu is open. When a Ribbon tab is selected, these keys navigate up or down the tab group.

In a dialogue box, arrow keys move between options in an open drop-down list, or between options in a group of options.

DOWN ARROW or ALT+DOWN ARROW opens a selected drop-down list.

BACKSPACE Deletes one character to the left in the Formula Bar.Also clears the content of the active cell.In cell editing mode, it deletes the character to the left of the insertion point.
DELETE Removes the cell contents (data and formulas) from selected cells without affecting cell formats or comments.In cell editing mode, it deletes the character to the right of the insertion point.
END Moves to the cell in the lower-right corner of the window when SCROLL LOCK is turned on.Also selects the last command on the menu when a menu or submenu is visible.CTRL+END moves to the last cell on a worksheet, in the lowest used row of the rightmost used column. If the cursor is in the formula bar, CTRL+END moves the cursor to the end of the text.CTRL+SHIFT+END extends the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner). If the cursor is in the formula bar, CTRL+SHIFT+END selects all text in the formula bar from the cursor position to the end—this does not affect the height of the formula bar.
ENTER Completes a cell entry from the cell or the Formula Bar, and selects the cell below (by default).In a data form, it moves to the first field in the next record.Opens a selected menu (press F10 to activate the menu bar) or performs the action for a selected command.In a dialogue box, it performs the action for the default command button in the dialogue box (the button with the bold outline, often the OK button).ALT+ENTER starts a new line in the same cell.

CTRL+ENTER fills the selected cell range with the current entry.

SHIFT+ENTER completes a cell entry and selects the cell above.

ESC Cancels an entry in the cell or Formula Bar.Closes an open menu or submenu, dialogue box, or message window.It also closes full screen mode when this mode has been applied, and returns to normal screen mode to display the Ribbon and status bar again.
HOME Moves to the beginning of a row in a worksheet.Moves to the cell in the upper-left corner of the window when SCROLL LOCK is turned on.Selects the first command on the menu when a menu or submenu is visible.CTRL+HOME moves to the beginning of a worksheet.CTRL+SHIFT+HOME extends the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.
PAGE DOWN Moves one screen down in a worksheet.ALT+PAGE DOWN moves one screen to the right in a worksheet.CTRL+PAGE DOWN moves to the next sheet in a workbook.CTRL+SHIFT+PAGE DOWN selects the current and next sheet in a workbook.
PAGE UP Moves one screen up in a worksheet.ALT+PAGE UP moves one screen to the left in a worksheet.CTRL+PAGE UP moves to the previous sheet in a workbook.CTRL+SHIFT+PAGE UP selects the current and previous sheet in a workbook.
SPACEBAR In a dialogue box, performs the action for the selected button, or selects or clears a check box.CTRL+SPACEBAR selects an entire column in a worksheet.SHIFT+SPACEBAR selects an entire row in a worksheet.CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR selects the entire worksheet.

  • If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR a second time selects the current region and its summary rows. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR a third time selects the entire worksheet.
  • When an object is selected, CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR selects all objects on a worksheet.

ALT+SPACEBAR displays the Control menu for the Microsoft Office Excel window.

TAB Moves one cell to the right in a worksheet.Moves between unlocked cells in a protected worksheet.Moves to the next option or option group in a dialogue box.SHIFT+TAB moves to the previous cell in a worksheet or the previous option in a dialogue box.CTRL+TAB switches to the next tab in dialogue box.

CTRL+SHIFT+TAB switches to the previous tab in a dialogue box.

How to view two Excel worksheets side-by-side

Save time and reduce errors by viewing two or more worksheets at the same time

It’s not uncommon to end up jumping between different Excel worksheets/workbooks because you are comparing data, copying & pasting or even creating links. This back and forth process takes up time and can increase the risk of error. Well there is a better way, here we will look at how to view two Excel worksheets side-by-side saving you time and reducing the potential for error.

Step 1

Click the View tab and click New Window. If you click one time on New Window you can arrange 2 worksheets side by side. If you click two times on New Window you can arrange 3 worksheets side by side and so on.


Step 2

On the View Tab click Arrange All.


Step 3

The Arrange Windows dialogue box will appear. You have different choices of how you want to arrange the Worksheets (tiled, horizontal, vertical or cascade). Select your choice and tick the check-box Windows of active workbook. Click OK.


Step 4

You will now have the worksheets arranged in front of you. Only one window (worksheet) will be active. In the screenshot below the first window is the active window. You can see which one is the active window by the colour. The active window is the window with the darker blue colour at the top of the window. To activate another window just click inside the window and it will be activate.

You will now be able to calculate, copy and paste and link cells between the arranged worksheets.

 view two Excel worksheets side-by-side


As we have just seen, to view two Excel worksheets side-by-side or even multiple Excel workbooks is a very quick process. It allows us to position the information we need to review in any way we wish and hopefully eases our daily use of Excel.

Arranging Windows in Excel 2013

In Excel 2013 (which is what we have used for these examples) viewing and arranging windows has been made even easier. For example you can quickly drag an Excel window to the side of the screen (a circle symbol displays on the edge of your screen) and “pin” it which means the window will automatically take up half of the screen.

Additional resources

Viewing two Excel 2010 workbooks at the same time

View two or more worksheets at the same time

How to view Spreadsheets side-by-side in Excel 2013



How to freeze panes in Excel

Save hours and eyesore by using freeze panes in Excel

Reviewing data in spreadsheets can be very demanding on the eyes and time consuming when you are trying to remember what a particular column or row of data actually is!

If you’re not already familiar with how to freeze panes in Excel, read on and save yourself some time.

Using freeze panes

To use Freeze Panes, open a workbook window, and click the Freeze Panes button on the View tab.

Clicking this button will display a menu of freeze options that you can choose from.

Freeze panes options in Excel

To freeze panes (columns and rows)

  • Select the first cell of data (for the area you wish to scroll through, not frozen!)
  • Go to the View tab
  • In the Window group, select Freeze Panes

To freeze panes (top row only)

  • Go to the View tab
  • In the Window group, select Freeze Top Row

To freeze panes (first column only)

  • Go to the View tab
  • In the Window group, select Freeze First Column

To unfreeze panes (any setting)

  • Go to the View tab
  • In the Window group, select Unfreeze Panes

Unfreeze any panes in Excel

By using freeze panes the time you save over multiple uses really can mean hours saved in the long run. This feature is also particularly useful when sharing Excel spreadsheets with others  so as to enable easier navigation and hopefully comprehension of the data shared.

Difference between freezing and splitting panes

We have looked at how to freeze panes which are really useful when you wish to keep the headings for rows or columns of data from disappearing while you are scrolling through a spreadsheet. If you wish to have multiple views showing different areas of a spreadsheet you can use the Split option (found under the View tab) to create 2 or 4 split areas (which are scrollable) of your spreadsheet/worksheet.

More related information:

How to use Freeze Panes in Excel 2007

Freeze or lock rows and columns

Create a drop-down list in Excel

Save time by avoiding repetition and errors

Excel is great for lists; sales figures, staff rota’s, stock control, to name a few. But an easy trap to fall into is repetitive error prone data-entry that leads to inaccurate business reporting and lost time in troubleshooting.

If you create a drop-down list in Excel, you can avoid all of this. Imagine the time saved short and long term especially if multiple people are using the same spreadsheet.

How to create a drop-down list in Excel


Here’s one we made earlier

Step 1 Assign the values for your drop-down list. In a new worksheet, just start your list and order it if you wish (better now than later!)


Step 2 Now select the data and right click, select Define Name.

Step 3 In the New Name dialogue box you need to give your data name (this is a named range), making sure not to have any spaces in the name. Example, Commute

Name the range

Step 4 Now go to the worksheet where you wish create a drop-down list in Excel, and click a cell. Go to the Data tab and select Data Validation

select data validation

Step 5 In Settings tab we need to do the following:

Select List from the Allow box.
Ensure In-cell dropdown is ticked. If you are okay for blank entries to be made just leave the Ignore blank ticked.
In the Source box we need to type in the name of our list making sure to start with an =. In this case, =Commute

data validation options

Now click OK, your drop-down list is ready to go. You may have noticed two other tabs within the Data Validation box. The Input Message and Error Alert give you even more options to control how data is entered and also what messages appear to users when they have not entered data correctly.

To create a drop-down list in Excel is pretty straight forward giving us some major advantages in saving time from data entry as well as data error. Data validation in it’s own right can really help businesses adopt more consistent and efficient use of Excel spreadsheets.

More related information:

Excel data validation in business

A real world example of assigning values to a drop-down list in Excel

A further look at Input Message & Error Alert



How to share files in Excel

Improve collaboration and save time

It is not uncommon with Excel to have multiple people requiring access to the same file. Whether the file in question is a sales report, marketing budget, or time-sheet for example. This is where the Share Workbook feature in Excel comes in handy, here we’ll look at how to share files in Excel and things to watch out for.

The big incentive for sharing an Excel file amongst people is that there is just a single version in use. Not taking this approach entails all sorts of challenges, from having to manage multiple (and ever changing) versions of the same file through to organising how to merge all the data into a single file. By sharing, everyone is on the same page/workbook!

Step 1 Create or open an existing spreadsheet that you wish to share.

Step 2 Once open, go to the Review tab and select the Share Workbook.

how to share files in Excel

In the Review tab select the Share Workbook

Step 3 Now the Share Workbook dialogue box will be open. Make sure the Editing tab is open and then click on the box to “Allow changes by more than one user at the same time” (this is where you will also be able to view who else is using the shared file). Finally click OK to save the changes.

Select to share a workbook

Step 4 The file then needs to be saved to a location that others will be able to access. This could be a shared folder, network drive, or even a OneDrive (for Excel 2013 users).

About advanced sharing features

You may have noticed the Advanced tab on the above Share Workbook dialogue box. Here is a quick overview on what these advanced features do:

Advanced options for sharing a workbook

Track changes: If you wish to track revisions then select the Keep Change History option. The fewer days that you select the smaller the size of the change log.

Update changes: If the Excel file in question is in regular use it makes sense to set up an automatic save. You can even be notified of what changes are being saved.

Conflicting changes between users: Take an instance where the same cell has been changed by two users, you can either have the option to decide which change gets saved or simply set it so that only saved changes have final say.

Include in personal view: An option to include any set filter and print views that other users may have applied.

Sharing does limit Excel features:

When sharing you can: When sharing you can’t:
Insert columns/rows Create a table
View existing charts Can’t create new charts
Use existing conditional formating but not edit Merge cells or split merged cells
View existing Macros with limitations Group or outline data


The Share Workbook feature in Excel is a really useful way to easily collaborate between different users and not have the headache of managing multiple file versions. Yes it does need some consideration in terms of certain limitations of Excel features and ensuring everyone can access the file. It may not be a bad idea to actually keep a spare sheet in the workbook with some sharing guidelines for all users.
With Excel 2013 the options to share are even more varied considering that you can share a file for access across multiple platforms and devices (such as iPads).

More resources on how to share files in Excel

How to share a file in Excel 2010.
Read more

How Getting Together Is Now Even Easier With Excel.
Read more

Use a shared workbook to collaborate.
Read more