Keep it simple stupid with Microsoft Excel

by 1vet2another

During the military, I didn’t use any computer programs that would be relevant to my future career.   College was my first real introduction to programs that would be integral to life in the corporate arena. With a business major, I had a few courses that taught basic software knowledge in Microsoft products like Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and Access.   There were two major issues.  1. I didn’t take these tools seriously enough (the majority of the blame falls on me).  2. I don’t believe our professors put enough emphasis on how important these tools were for our career.

For now, let’s look at Excel.  Know enough to be dangerous.  If you get assigned to project that requires more detailed knowledge, you can learn on the job (Google, YouTube, nearby experts, etc.)  In fact, I urge you to not fill your head with details of every function and capability these programs offer.  Use your time more efficiently, learn enough to be dangerous and do deep dives as needed.

As an analyst, I would often run into situations where I needed to utilize functions, graphs, or other capabilities of Excel that I wasn’t familiar with.  I would go straight to google and ask the question.  So far, I have been able to find a step-by-step “how to” guide or YouTube video for every unique scenario I ask about.   The best part is (in addition to learning new things), people become impressed and start thinking you’re some kind of Excel guru (ha!). Here are some tips to simplify Excel…

Have a goal for your spreadsheet

Every document serves a purpose.  Know what you are trying to accomplish every time you build a new spreadsheet. Corporations often have hundreds of spreadsheets floating around.  Many of those spreadsheets are either way too complicated or lack updated information. Unless you are using Excel for quick ad-hoc analysis that only you will see, I suggest you put some thought into it.

What analysis do you need to perform?  What is the goal of bringing this data together?    Who else will being using or seeing it?  Do we really need another spreadsheet out there (might be another one already out there that just needs an update)?  Answer those questions first.

Mind your audience

Make the assumption that the people opening your document are either very busy or have limited skills/experience using Excel.  Make it easy for the user to see the analysis and navigate the document if needed.  Use a cover page on the first tab with a brief description of the document and its purpose.

Bring key results or metrics from the data to the front tab/s.  The point is, don’t let a giant spreadsheet with all the raw data be the first thing they see upon opening the document, it is overwhelming.  Present the data in either table or graph format, whichever highlights your analysis and makes it obvious for the user.

Less is more

When you start gathering data in a spreadsheet, it is easy to keep adding more columns.  We keep thinking of more things we would love to analyze and track over time.  This can be somewhat of a trap.  Try to stay focused on the goal of the spreadsheet and resist the temptation to make it more complex.  More columns mean more data, and more data means more time updating and potential accuracy concerns.

More data also can be more overwhelming and confusing for the user.  Keeping your spreadsheets focused on the goal is important.  Each column, in general, should be NEEDED to support the goal of the spreadsheet.  If you run across a column that is just nice to have, you can likely delete it.  Every time you or someone else thinks of adding more information, give it the same “nice to have” vs “need to have” test.

If they need to navigate and use the raw data, make it as easy as possible.  If you have a spreadsheet with multiple columns and rows, do your best to organize it in a way the user would likely need it.  Prioritize the important columns and either place them in the beginning or highlight with another color (try to avoid using more than 1 or 2 colors, nobody likes a confusing rainbow spreadsheet).

Sort the data so it looks uniform and groups information in a way that makes sense.  The point is, it should look clean and organized. Finally, turn the filter on each column and allow them to easily find what they need (assume they don’t know how to turn on the filter).

Know your options

Assuming you are not just sending out the raw data, you will likely need to show the analysis/major findings in a way that people understand.  Learn how to create pivot tables, graphs and tables that are simple and easy to read.  Don’t try to get fancy.  No need to add colors or cool designs that don’t add value.  Only include the data that is absolutely needed to support your analysis.

Once again, weigh the “nice to have” vs. “need to have” when building tables and graphs.  Label things appropriately so every number is understood. Finally, make it all look neat and organized.  Take pride in your work.  Bring the highlighted analysis to the front of the document (cover page or next tab). The raw data should be the last tab.

Good luck and remember, keep it simple stupid.

80 Replies to “Keep it simple stupid with Microsoft Excel”

  1. In this great scheme of things you secure a B+ just for hard work. Where exactly you actually confused us was first on your particulars. You know, it is said, details make or break the argument.. And that could not be much more accurate at this point. Having said that, let me inform you precisely what did do the job. Your writing is certainly quite convincing which is most likely the reason why I am making the effort in order to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, although I can certainly see a leaps in reason you make, I am not sure of exactly how you appear to unite your details that produce the final result. For the moment I shall yield to your point however trust in the future you actually connect the dots much better.

  2. There are some interesting points in moment in this blog post although I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There’s a little validity however, I will take hold judgment until I consider it more. Good post, thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner at the very same time

  3. I simply want to mention I am newbie to blogging and definitely savored your blog site. Most likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You really have remarkable articles. Thanks a lot for revealing your blog site.

  4. I simply wanted to appreciate you all over again. I do not know the things that I would’ve tried in the absence of the type of ideas discussed by you about this concern. Previously it was a very traumatic setting in my position, but spending time with a specialized strategy you resolved that made me to leap with contentment. I am grateful for this guidance and thus sincerely hope you are aware of an amazing job that you are putting in teaching most people via a site. Most likely you haven’t come across all of us.

  5. I¡¦ve read a few excellent stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much attempt you set to create this kind of great informative website.

  6. That is the suitable blog for anybody who needs to search out out about this topic. You notice a lot its virtually onerous to argue with you (not that I truly would want…HaHa). You undoubtedly put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just nice!

  7. I as well as my friends came going through the nice tips and tricks located on your web site while all of the sudden I had a horrible suspicion I never thanked the site owner for them. These young men had been totally joyful to read through them and have without a doubt been making the most of them. Many thanks for indeed being considerably considerate and then for picking out this form of fabulous subjects millions of individuals are really eager to know about. Our own honest regret for not expressing gratitude to sooner.

  8. well my friend made a blog and he won’t show me what his blog is until he finishes everything with it. So i was wondering if there was a way to find someones blogger with their email address. If anyone could show me how. thatd be great thanks!.

  9. I will right away clutch your rss feed as I can’t to find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please allow me recognize so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  10. MetroClick specializes in building completely interactive products like Photo Booth for rental or sale, Touch Screen Kiosks, Large Touch Screen Displays , Monitors, Digital Signages and experiences. With our own hardware production facility and in-house software development teams, we are able to achieve the highest level of customization and versatility for Photo Booths, Touch Screen Kiosks, Touch Screen Monitors and Digital Signage. Visit MetroClick at http://www.metroclick.com/ or , 121 Varick St, New York, NY 10013, +1 646-843-0888

  11. Faytech North America is a touch screen Manufacturer of both monitors and pcs. They specialize in the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Capacitive touch screen, Resistive touch screen, Industrial touch screen, IP65 touch screen, touchscreen monitors and integrated touchscreen PCs. Contact them at http://www.faytech.us, 121 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013, +1 646 205 3214

  12. Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossip and internet stuff and this is really annoying. A good website with exciting content, this is what I need. Thank you for making this web-site, and I will be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  13. It is just like you study my mind! Material understand considerably with this, such as you authored your e-book in it as well. I have faith that you just could employ a few s. chemical. to energy the message dwelling a lttle bit, but rather than this, that is great site. A great examine koleksi youtube terbaik. I will definitely be back.

  14. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will share this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  15. Definitely imagine that that you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest factor to understand of. I say to you, I definitely get irked at the same time as other people consider issues that they just don’t realize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and defined out the whole thing with no need side-effects , folks could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thank you

  16. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My site addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

  17. Great post. I became checking constantly this web site and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the final part I look after such info much. I had been seeking this particular information for just a very long time. Thanks a lot and good luck.

  18. I’ve been having issues with my Windows hosting. It has set me back quite a bit while making the next list. This is the current list that I have. I should add another list in less than a week. I’ll let you all know when the next list is ready. Thank you for your patience.

  19. Whats Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It absolutely helpful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & assist different customers like its helped me. Great job.

  20. Just wish to say your article is as astounding. The clarity in your post is simply great and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

  21. Cool one! Interesting information over here. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.| I could not refrain from commenting. I ‘ve spent 3 hours trying to find such tips. I will also share it with some friends interested in it. I’ve just bookmarked this website. Done with the search done, I going to visit some online homo cams. Thanks!!Greetings from Miami!

  22. I like it! Interesting information over this website. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.| I couldn’t refrain from commenting. I have spent 3 hours searching for such tips. I’ll also share it with some friends interested in it. I’ve just bookmarked this website. Done with the job done, I’ll enjoy some model homo cams. Merci!!Greetings from New York!

  23. Good! Interesting info over here. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.| I couldn’t refrain from commenting. I ‘ve spent some time searching for such tips. I’ll also share it with some friends interested in it. I have just bookmarked this web. Right now with the work done, I will visit some online gay cams. Thank you very much!!Greetings from Orlando!

  24. Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this information. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and internet and this is really irritating. A good website with exciting content, this is what I need. Thank you for keeping this web-site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  25. Super! Interesting information over here. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before. I could not refrain from commenting. I have spent 3 hours looking for such infos. I’ll also share it with a couple of friends interested in it. I have just bookmarked this web. Now with the job done, I’ll watch some model gay cams. Thank you very much!! Greetings from San Diego!

  26. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.|

  27. Great weblog right here! Also your web site so much up fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink in your host? I desire my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  28. I was just searching for this information for a while. After six hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your web site. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this type of informative web sites in top of the list. Normally the top websites are full of garbage.

  29. I¡¦ll right away grasp your rss feed as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly allow me recognise so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  30. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Truly rarely can i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail for the head. Your concept is outstanding; ab muscles something that too little everyone is speaking intelligently about. My business is happy that we came across this around my find something in regards to this.

  31. It will be the best time to create some blueprints for any long haul and it’s really time to feel very special. I have understand this organize and in case I may just simply I must propose you couple of useful issues as well as guidelines. Perhaps you might create pursuing content in regards to this post riwayat prabowo. I have to master more reasons for this!

  32. Excellent posting aplikasi mobile rekomendasi saham terkini. I just now found the website plus wanted to claim that We have genuinely experienced looking your blog site articles. No matter the reason We are subscribing as part of your feed and I’m hoping you’re again immediately!

  33. I have not checked in here for some time because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  34. I happen to be writing to let you know what a really good encounter my friend’s girl experienced visiting your web page. She mastered some pieces, which included what it’s like to possess a very effective helping nature to let certain people just know specified very confusing topics. You really exceeded my desires. Thanks for distributing these essential, safe, educational and in addition easy thoughts on that topic to Kate.

  35. Good website! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!

  36. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!

  37. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  38. obviously like your web site but you need to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth however I¡¦ll definitely come back again.

  39. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  40. I really enjoy examining on this site, it contains good posts. “Don’t put too fine a point to your wit for fear it should get blunted.” by Miguel de Cervantes.

  41. Thank you so much for providing individuals with an exceptionally breathtaking possiblity to discover important secrets from this web site. It’s usually so lovely and also jam-packed with amusement for me and my office acquaintances to visit your blog at a minimum thrice per week to study the latest things you have. Not to mention, I’m so usually fulfilled with the sensational points you give. Selected 4 tips in this posting are definitely the most suitable I have ever had.

  42. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  43. My pal advised I’d similar to this website. He or she once was absolutely perfect. This particular set up really built my own day time.. cara beli saham di bursa efek People can not look at how a good deal period I had wasted in this facts! Thank you so much!

  44. Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Great. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  45. Amazing info! Amazing tips over here. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more helpful than ever before. I couldn’t resist commenting. I ‘ve spent 2 hours looking for such article. I will also share it with some friends interested in it. I’ve just bookmarked this website. Finished with the task done, I going to enjoy some free live model cams. Vielen Dank!! Greetings from Clinton!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.