Stacy's Top 9 Favourite Things About Microsoft Excel

Any hardcore Microsoft Excel fans out there will already have caught wind of this, but for the rest of you out there: did you know that Microsoft Excel has been around for 25 years now? Amazing!

In honour of this milestone, I decided it would be the perfect time to make a post about my top 9 favourite things about Microsoft Excel. Why 9? Why not 10? Well, 9 is my favourite number.

In no particular order:

#1: Excel lets me keep data in my spreadsheet up-to-date by pulling information from Web queries, Access databases, other workbooks, and a number of other external sources. I don't have to spend extra time manually updating numbers - Excel does it for me!

#2: Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts. These powerful data manipulation tools leave me wondering how awful it must have been to work with information before computers. In a matter of seconds, I can create a meaningful report or chart on thousands of rows of data.I can use Excel for my personal life outside of the office. It's great for planning my budget, keeping track of fitness goals, and even making portion changes to my favourite recipes. I'd choose Excel over a paper and calculator any day.

#3: Built-in error checking spots potential problems that I would have otherwise missed. It's nice to know that if I do something like accidentally omit a cell from a calculation that Excel will point it out to me and I can fix it right away.

#4: There's an impressive array of functions available to use for just about anything you could possibly want to do... and you're free to create your own using VBA if you need something more customized.

#5: Excel integrates so well with the rest of the Microsoft Office suite. For example, I love that I can copy part of a spreadsheet into a Word document and have it stay up-to-date if I go back and make changes to the spreadsheet.

#6: I can make annotations to a spreadsheet using a tablet PC or my graphics tablet. Sometimes you just want to be able to circle things or make written notes. Excel lets you do all of this without printing anything out!

#7: I can view and make changes to my spreadsheet at the same time as the rest of my team without having to manage multiple copies and then somehow merge them when I'm done. Using Excel through SharePoint makes it possible for everyone to be working on the same file at once.

#8: Conditional formatting makes it quick and easy to highlight items in a spreadsheet that meet certain criteria. One time I needed to spot a number of items in a massive file that were above a certain value. Using conditional formatting, I was able to very quickly spot these values. It would have taken me hours to go through it all without this tool!

#9: Lastly, there's such a large number of resources out there on the Internet to help you use Excel. Besides my site here, you can find help topics on just about anything you want to accomplish on the Internet. With such a wide community of users and great technical support out there, you can use Excel with confidence and know that you can always get the help you need if you look for it.

And there you have it, my friends! Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list of everything I love about Excel... but I certainly don't have the time to explain everything in detail. I'll save some of that for future posts.

Happy 25th, Microsoft Excel! From your #1 Canadian fan, Stacy DuBois.

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