How to Create Better Excel Spreadsheets Part Two

One of the most exciting things you'll learn in Excel courses is how to go beyond the toolbar and begin creating powerful formulas inside the worksheet cells themselves. During your Excel course, you find that Excel formulas can handle a lot more than simple equations. In fact, there is most likely an excel formula that will solve just about any problem you're having with your spreadsheets. Though classroom Excel courses will go into much greater detail and cover a lot more ground, this article will touch on some ways to handle common problems with Excel formulas. Problem: I need to combine the contents of two or more cells! There are numerous reasons why you might need to combine the contents of two or more cells.

For example, you may have a column of customer first names and a column of last names that you need to combine into one cell. You won't need to waste your time retyping the entire list; Microsoft foresaw this problem and created the "concatenate" function to solve it. The word 'concatenate' literally means 'to link together' or 'to unite in a series or chain.' You can join the data from as many cells as possible with the concatenate function.

In this example, we'll assume that we're joining the first names in column A, with last names in column B. In the cell where you want the combined information to appear, simply type =concatenate(A1," ",B1). Make sure to enter a space between the A1 and the B1 cell labels surrounded by quotation marks so that Excel knows to leave a space between the first name and the last name.

There is much more functionality and lots of other uses for the concatenate function that are explained in greater detail in an Excel course. Problem: I need an easier way to create a numbered or dated list! Many, many spreadsheets have a need for an organized list that includes months of the year (January, February), days of the week (Monday, Tuesday), progressing dates (1/22/07, 1/23/07), or just a numbered list. So many spreadsheets have the need for such lists, that the functionality to automatically populate these lists is built right into the Excel cells. The process is simple, and even a bit fun. Simply type the first list name into one of the Excel cell, for example, "Monday." Next hover your mouse over the bottom right corner of the cell until the pointer becomes a "+" sign and drag your mouse across the cells where you want your list to appear.

Excel intuitively knows that you're attempting to create a list of days of the week and fills in the empty cells in seconds flat. Sometimes with numbered lists Excel needs you to fill in the first two cells in order to understand you intended pattern, but never much more than that. In Excel courses, you'll learn lots more about this feature, like how to build customized lists with your own repeating information like employee names. Most people who try Excel courses say that they're shocked by the sheer amount of interesting functions they didn't know existed in Excel. After attending several Excel courses you can build all sorts of customized, interactive spreadsheets that can handle just about any functionality you can imagine. If you're a business owner, sending your employees through Excel courses can easily boost productivity.

Regardless of how you use it, understanding more about Excel's clever and powerful features can open doors to new and more intuitive way of interpreting your data.

Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on Excel courses, visit


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