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How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets

Microsoft Excel used to be your only option for spreadsheet software, but not anymore. You can move all of your Excel files to a digital format that is easy to use and updates in real-time, as well as being free to use. We’re talking about how to convert Excel to Google Sheets, and we have everything you need to know.

Google offers a number of great applications for free, including Google Sheets. While the applications are not as powerful as what you receive with the Microsoft options, when you don’t want to spend money on the program and only need basic features Google is the way to go.

Related Post: Google Sheets Vs. Excel: How They Differ, Strengths and Weaknesses

Google Sheets gives you several excellent features, so you need to know how to convert Excel to Google Sheets. Here is the answer.

How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets

Screen capture from Google Sheets

When looking at how to convert Excel to Google Sheets you thankfully don’t need a workaround or any special software. If you already have Google Sheets that’s all you’ll need to convert the Microsoft file to the Google file.

If you just received the Sheets file and are a native Excel user, it is easy to open up the application and to begin using the information.

Signing Up with Google Sheets

If you are a native Microsoft application user and you haven’t used it before this is the one mandate you have in order to convert Excel to Google Sheets.

Chances are you have a Google account (through Gmail or YouTube or something). If you don’t, go over to Gmail.com and create a free account. Once you have your Google account login head over to Google.com/sheets/about.

On the home page click “Go to Google Sheets.” This will instantly take you over to the Sheets application.

Screen capture of Google.com/sheets/about

If you’ve ever downloaded a Sheets or Excel file in the past to your Gmail account the information will automatically be displayed. You can select the file from the lower portion of your screen, or you can create a new sheet, produce a “To-Do List,” an annual budget, or select one of the other templates.

Converting Excel to Google Sheets with File in Google Drive

If you received the Excel file in your Gmail account, you’ll already have the file saved on your Google Drive (which is the cloud service Google has packaged in with its Google accounts).

With the file in your Google Drive you’ll want to click on the selection of dots in the upper right corner of your Google account window.

Now, choose “Google Drive.”

From here, select the Microsoft Excel file listed inside of your Google Drive account. A pop-up window will appear, asking what you want to open the file with.

Select “Google Sheets.” The spreadsheet will now convert over to the Sheets format.

Convert When You Upload

Now, you may not want to open Google Sheets and open the file just to convert it. Thankfully, Google allows you to instantly convert the file to Google Sheets without ever opening the file in the first place.

Head over to the Google Sheets home page, then click on the “Open File Picker” icon, which looks like a file folder and is located under your profile icon.

When the “Open a File” window opens choose “Upload,” then select the Microsoft Excel file you want to upload and convert.

Click “Open” and the file will now upload to your account and automatically convert over to Google Sheets.

File Formats You Can Convert (And Some You Can’t)

The majority of Microsoft Excel files can be converted without a problem, so when looking over the how to convert Excel to Google Sheets instructions, you’ll find it works with nearly all the files you have. The Excel file you can convert include:

.xls, .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltx, .xltm, lods, .csv, .tsv, .txt, .tab.

Now, there are a few files you cannot convert over to Microsoft Excel. First, if the file is password protected you won’t be able to convert it as Google does not have the right to access the Microsoft password-protected file.

Next, you can’t convert a Macros file, although you can upload the macro file into the Apps Script application and then convert it from there.

If you have any Excel charts embedded into PowerPoint or Word you can’t convert the information over to Google Sheets. You also can’t convert any sheets that are linked to your Excel file (such as a website linked within the file that then leads to an Internet saved spreadsheet. If you want to convert that file you must download it.

Exporting Sheets File Back to Excel

Screen capture of Microsoft Excel

After you have followed the how to convert Excel to Google Sheets instructions and have worked within Google Sheets to edit or tweak information, you may find the need to export the file back to Microsoft Excel for later use. It is a simple process that you can do as soon as you are done editing the file in Google Sheets.

Export the File as Excel

When you are in Google Sheets and you’re ready to export the file out for Microsoft use, click on the “File” button at the top of the application window, now choose “Download As” from the list of options appearing in the pull-down menu.

You will now be able to select the desired file format you want to export the file as. Select the .xlsx file format and click “OK.” The file will now export out to your computer in the selected Microsoft Excel format.

If you’d like, you can also export it as several other files, including PDF. The ability to save as Excel and to open Excel files within Google Sheets makes it possible to jump back and forth between the software. This way, no matter who you are working with or what application they are on, you will always be able to run and view the information whenever necessary.

Why Google Sheets?

Before you look into how to convert Excel to Google Sheets you may wonder why someone would use Google Sheets to begin with? Microsoft has long been the king of inner-office applications, so why would someone make the shift now?

Chances are, the person moving from Excel to Sheets didn’t become fed up with Excel. It very much is the most powerful and useful spreadsheet software out there (and it’s not all that close). However, not everyone needs powerful spreadsheet tools. They might not need all the insights and coding features. They may just need cells to help maintain information. When this is the case there’s no reason to purchase Microsoft Office, which is an expensive application suite to keep up to date.

Instead, it is better for the individual to use Google Sheets. Google Sheets is free to use, converts in and out of Excel files, and can do several things Microsoft can do. Plus, it can easily be uploaded to other Google applications and also emailed from Google Drive. So if you’re wondering why someone would use Google Sheets (or why you might want to give it a try), it’s because it’s free, and yet still a quality application.

A final benefit is you don’t need to install anything onto your computer if you don’t want to. It is possible to download the application to work offline, but if you’re looking to save hard drive space on your computer, Google Sheets is an excellent option.

Work with Others in Real Time

One of the best features Google brings to the table (and a major reason why individuals like to use Google Sheets) is because you can work with others in real time through the Google Drive application.

If you send someone the Google Sheets file and you both have it within a shared space, both of you will be able to view the file. Additionally, you’ll be able to see that the other individual is accessing the file at the same time. From there, you can make edits with them and adjust whatever is necessary. There may be times where you need to collaborate with someone through Microsoft Sheets and you don’t want to constantly download and email the attachment. With the combination of Google Drive and Google Sheets, you’ll never again need to do this.

Conclusion

A person working on his laptop
image source: pixabay.com

Microsoft Excel remains the king of all spreadsheet applications. However, Google Sheets does offer a number of useful features, not to mention it is free. Because of this, there are many people who are starting to make the switch from the Office program to the Google program. If you received an Excel file and need to either access it for the first time in Sheets, or you have never used Sheets before and you want to know how to open your own file in the software, these are the instructions you need to follow for how to convert Excel to Google Sheets. With this information, you’ll always be able to open an Excel file in Sheets whenever necessary, and then convert it back out should you want.

image of excel showing the addition function

The Data Adds Up: Using the Addition Formula in Excel

Meta: In this article readers will learn the basic addition formula for Microsoft Excel. Users can find examples and a how-to guide for entering formulas themselves and using the sum feature.

The addition formula is one of the basic functions you can perform in Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet programs. There are several different ways to use the addition formula in Excel and many different times when the formula will come in handy when you are working with data in your spreadsheet.

In the following article, we will discuss the different ways you can enter an addition formula, and when it is appropriate to use the formula. This will include sections on:

  • What is a formula in Excel
  • Basic addition formula
  • Advanced addition
  • The “SUM” function
  • SUM with rows and columns

What Is a Formula in Excel

In Excel, a formula is a way to perform calculations and other operations on your data. There are basic formulas such as addition or subtraction, which we will discuss in this article, and much more complex formulas that make calculations for advanced statistics or engineering problems. In essence, a formula is performing some simple, or complicated, mathematical function.

Any formula that you make in excel will begin with the “=” symbol and are most often entered into a specific cell of your choosing. For example, if you typed “= 5 + 3 + 8” into the cell A1 and pressed enter, what would you expect to get back? If you said 16, you’re exactly right. Pretty easy, no?

Values are not the only thing you can add using the addition formula. Formulas can also contain constants, individual cells (for example, B22) or a range of cells (for example, F2 to F22), functions, and operators.

In Excel, values are not limited to numbers. They can include dates, text or words, and Boolean values.

The Basic Addition Formula

Image of Excel showing formula bar with =2+2 and cell D4 showing 4
Screen capture from Excel: Cell D4 showing the result of the formula “=2+2” the formula is displayed in the formula bar

As we noted above, the basic addition formula is quite simple. Except for the syntax, you probably recognize it from your elementary school math class. In Excel, instead of writing “2 + 2 =”, you write = 2 + 2 and the program will spit back to you the number 4.

You can also write the names of cells into your formula instead of numbers and get the same result. For example, if you typed = A4+B4 into the C4 cell, the program would then do perform the function and give you the result in C4. In this case 4.

The huge advantage to using cell references rather than typing in the data is that if change the data in a cell, the formula will automatically change. This will cut down on making any errors when working with your data.

More Advanced Addition

As noted above, one way to do this is to type in the range of cell references you want. Above we did “=A4+B4” and got 4 back.

If you’re more of a mouse person, the other easy way to do this is the point and click method. Start by typing a “=” into C4. Now click on cell A4. This should show “=A4” in the cell. Then type the “+” sign and click on the cell you want to add to A4. In this example, we will do B4. Cell C4 will now have the completed formula “=A4+B4”.

addition formula for cells shown
Showing formula in cell C4

When you press enter, you will get the result, 4.

Excel screen capture showing c4
After hitting enter in C4, the sum of the selected cells is displayed, the formula shows in the formula bar above

If you need to change the formula, say you want to multiply the cells instead of adding them, double-click the cell containing the formula and change the “+” to “*” and press enter.

The Sum Function

In Excel, you don’t need to use the operator “+” to add together two or more numbers. You can also use what is called the SUM function. As with all formulas, you still start by typing an “=”, but now you type SUM and whatever numbers or cells you want added up.

For example you can type =SUM(2,2) into a cell.

Showing formula for cell C7 and total displayed in that cell

When you press enter you’ll get 4.

You can also type in cell references, for example, =SUM(A1, B1, C1). If you want to do a range of cells, type =SUM(A1:C1).

Showing range addition formula

The Sum Function for Rows and Columns

All of our examples so far have been pretty easy, and you might be wondering, why do we need such an easy formula when you can do it in your head?

Well, the more data you have in your spreadsheet, the longer it will take for you to do the addition by hand. Imagine you’re working in sales, and you have a spreadsheet that keeps track of units of your product you’ve shipped in the past year as well as the units that remain in your warehouse.

You could sit there and calculate the entire inventory by hand, but then what would the point be of recording everything in a spreadsheet?

To cut down on time without creating an elaborate formula to perform addition, you can use the “SUM” function. The SUM function is incredibly useful if you’re like our salesperson who wants to add up her sales from the previous year.

Annual sales shown for how to use the sum function (addition) in excel

In the example, you can see that we have a lot more data than in the earlier examples. By using the SUM function, we can easily add together all the data in a given column. You can do the same thing for a row, or for both rows and columns simply by typing in or clicking on the range you wish to add up.

You can later use this data to create pivot charts, or pivot tables.

Bringing it all Together

In this article, we introduced the addition formula for Excel spreadsheets. We discussed some of the reasons why you might choose to use the addition formula, types of values and references that can be added using the formula, and some of the shortcuts you can use to tell Excel to add data in your spreadsheet.

man looking at tablet showing pivot tables and pivot charts

Pivot Charts: An All-Encompassing Guide

Pivot Charts can help you to take an unorganized set of data and turn it into a clear and concise representation of the information that you’re trying to convey. You can eliminate all unnecessary information and single out key data points in order to better understand specific subcategories of data.

Here, we’re going to look at the most important aspects of Pivot Charts, including:

  • The Basics of Pivot Charts
  • Reasons to use Pivot Charts
  • How to Create a Pivot Chart

What are Pivot Charts?

image of different types of pivot charts printed out with a phone and hands on a table.

Pivot Charts offer a visual representation of relevant data from a set. Most often, charts get data points from associated Pivot Tables instead of from raw data. Pivot Charts give you more flexibility than tables when it comes to layout and aesthetics, however.

You can display information using categories, markers, axes, and other hallmarks of charts and graphs. Excel’s Pivot Chart tool lets you show off data in just about any format except for an XY (scatter plot), stock graph, or bubble chart.

The Difference Between Pivot Charts and Standard Charts

In most respects, Pivot Charts are similar to standard graphs. They help us to visualize data in a way that’s clear, concise, and easy-to-read using simple shapes and labeled markers.

There are, however, some slight differences when creating Pivot Charts that you should be aware of:

  • The Orientation of Rows and Columns:  With traditional charts, you can easily switch row and column orientation by using the Select Data Source dialog box. With Pivot Charts, however, you can click and drag to “pivot” row and column labels.
  • Stylistic Limitations: As previously mentioned, you can’t make Pivot Charts in certain standard chart formats, including scatter plots, stock graphs, and bubble charts.
  • Linked Data Sources: With traditional charts and graphs in Excel, you typically use data directly from worksheet cells. Pivot Charts, however, use information from Pivot Tables to create a simple and user-friendly graph.
  • Changing Data: You can’t change the chart data range that you use in a Pivot Chart by using the traditional Select Data Source dialog box. Instead, you need to alter the associated Pivot Table.
  • Editing formatting: When you refresh a Pivot Chart, layout and style stays the same. Elements such as trendlines, data labels, error bars, and other changes to data sets, however, may be lost.

If you usually deal with standard charts in Excel, then Pivot Charts may take some getting used to. As long as you know what you’re doing, though, making a Pivot Chart takes just minutes.

The Benefits of Pivot Charts

Pivot charts are more than just a colorful way to represent important data. There are a number of reasons to make the switch from standard tables to Pivot Charts when presenting data. If you’re trying to glean information from select cells in your data set, using a Pivot Chart is often less time-consuming. It allows you to eliminate any unwanted categories in one swoop instead of forcing you to go through and highlight individual cells. This also reduces the chance of human error messing up your numbers.

When making a Pivot Chart, the information that you use will come from a Pivot Table. If you need to alter any of the data points in your table, you’ll find that your graph updates automatically, making it easy to tinker with numbers and make quick fixes when necessary. This can also help to save you time and frustration over standard charts.

How to Create a Pivot Chart using a Pivot Table

Excel screen showing where to find the pivot table menu.

To make a Pivot Chart, it’s easiest first to create a Pivot Table. A Pivot Table helps to summarize data from a large set into a smaller table that contains just the essential information.

You can use data from an Excel worksheet as the basis for a PivotTable, or you can import data sets from external sources such as a software database, an Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) cube, or a text file. You can even base a new Pivot Table on an existing file.

Once you’ve created a Pivot Table either manually or using Excel’s Recommended Pivot Table tool, you can use that information to make a Pivot Chart. While both the table and the chart will contain the same data, they present it in different ways.

Often, graphical representations are easier to read, especially when it comes to spotting patterns.

Creating a Pivot Chart from an Existing Pivot Table is Easy.

In just a few easy steps, you can have a graph that’s ready to go for your next major meeting or presentation. Here’s how to create a Pivot Chart using a Pivot Table:

  1. Select a cell that’s within your Pivot Table range.
  2. Go to PivotTable Tools > Analyze > PivotChart
  3. Select the chart type you want from the options available and click OK.
  4. Format your Pivot Table to your liking using different fonts, colors, and styles.

If you don’t have a Pivot Table at the ready, there’s no need to worry. You can make a Pivot Table and a chart at the same time if you want. Excel’s Recommended Charts tool automatically draws up a Pivot Chart and an associated Pivot Table based on raw data.

You can also do this manually:

  1. Select a cell within your worksheet data.
  2. Go to Insert > Pivot Chart > Pivot Chart.
  3. In the dialog popup box, specify your data source and where you want your chart to be placed. You can also choose whether you want to analyze multiple tables.
  4. Press OK, and Excel will add a new worksheet with a blank Pivot Table and Pivot Chart. Go to the Field List to pick out which fields you want to include in your chart.

Conclusion

Pivot Charts can help you to understand complex data sets and make more informed decisions, both in business and in your personal life. By breaking down data, Pivot Charts allow you to better focus on the information that’s important to your enterprise.

By following the steps laid out in this tutorial, you can create attractive visual representations that are sure to get you noticed at your next presentation.

Person in front of laptop with excel display

Google Sheets vs Excel: How Do They Differ?

When it comes to creating a spreadsheet on your computer, the program most professionals have routinely turned to is Microsoft Excel. As part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs, this title has been around for decades and has built a level of trust few other programs can replicate. For years this was the only true option available when it came to creating reliable spreadsheets on the computer: at least until Google Sheets came out. Here is what you need to consider regarding Google Sheets vs Excel.  

What Is Google Sheets?

When looking at Google Sheets vs Excel, Google Sheets is the new kid on the block. Google has been releasing applications for some time now, and it is now going head to head with Microsoft. There are still a number of powerful features Microsoft has that Google doesn’t, but competition in this sense is good. For years, Microsoft didn’t have to worry about anyone creating something similar to Excel, and because of this it did not do much in the way of upgrades or updates. But with Google Sheets, that is all different.

Google Sheets has been around for longer than most people might assume. Google first released the application back in March 2006, so it’s been around for 13 years. The spreadsheet software runs through a user’s Google account, so it is designed to be an online application (although it is possible to download the program and work offline).

Google Sheets is also available to work on nearly every platform you might use. Not only does this mean that it runs on Windows, Microsoft, and the Google Chromebook OS (which is a form of Android), but it also runs on mobile platforms like macOS, Windows Phone, Android, and even Blackberry.

The History of Google Sheets

While the spreadsheet application has technically been around since 2006 it hasn’t always gone by the same name. XL2Web created the web-based spreadsheet application and was eventually bought out by Google. Google went on to name the application Google Labs Spreadsheets, and users could begin using the application in June 2006.

Eventually, Google purchased DocVerse in 2010. The company created a word processor application that worked online in a similar fashion to how the spreadsheet application did. Google then purchased Quickoffice in 2012, which offered other Microsoft Office-like applications, but for free. By the end of 2012, Google renamed its Google Labs Spreadsheets to just “Google Sheets” and started offering it as a Chrome application download. Now, it is available everywhere and on any device you might want to use it.

What Is Microsoft Excel?

When making the Google Sheets vs Excel comparison you need to look at the overall history and creation of Microsoft Excel. The very first release of the spreadsheet software, which so many other spreadsheet softwares have been based on, came out in 1985.

This wasn’t the first foray into the world of spreadsheets for Microsoft though. It had initially created a similar program in 1982 called Multiplan. However, as computers began to move into the world of MS-DOS, most spreadsheet users turned to a Lotus 1-2-3 application. Microsoft retooled the application and released its first version of Excel in 1985 as a standalone application. However, it wasn’t officially packaged with the rest of its Office suite of programs until 1987.

As Microsoft started to increase its foothold in the world of personal computers Lotus began to fall behind. Microsoft didn’t release a spreadsheet program to the Windows OS until the early 90s, and by then Excel (and the rest of Microsoft Office) was one of the best selling programs anywhere.

Further Development of Microsoft Excel

Over the years Microsoft Excel has basically re-invented the world of spreadsheets over and over again. In 1990, the big thing was its new inclusion of toolbars and add-in cell support. Then when Windows 95 came out, all Microsoft Office programs received a new facelift and all kinds of new features, including Excel (known as Excel 5.0 at the time).

Today, Excel is still the best selling spreadsheet application around; but if you are looking for a program that fits your own needs, it is now important to compare Google Sheets vs Excel to see which addresses what you’re looking for in a spreadsheet application.

Google Sheets vs Excel: Differences

While both Google Sheets and Excel are spreadsheet applications, it is important to compare the two and to look at the differences between them. This way, when attempting to decide the winner of a Google Sheets vs Excel battle, you’ll have a better understanding of the applications.

Price

With this there is a clear winne: Google Sheets is free. Most Google applications are free, and this is no different. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a few different tier options. First, you can pay a subscription fee, which is either about $7 a month, or approximately $70 a year. Not this does give you full access to the entire Microsoft Office suite (for a single use license), but when you subscribe receive not only patch updates, but also full system updates when released.

You can also buy the application as a standalone software title. You will pay about $130 for this. Basically, you’re paying either $70 a year or you’re getting something for free.

Saving

There’s nothing worse than working on something, spending countless hours on the content, only to have the computer crash and all your work go out the window. While sure, that’s a lesson in the need to be constantly saving, you also shouldn’t be forced to save content after every single move you make. That makes for an interesting Google Sheets vs Excel comparison.

For starters, Google Sheets autosaves everything. Whenever you edit or adjust anything, Google automatically saves what is done. So, if your computer disconnects from the Internet, the battery dies, or something else happens, you won’t lose anything. With Microsoft Excel, there is an autosave feature when working in the cloud. However, if you’re working on something locally, you need to remember to continually click the save button. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing everything you just did.

Collaboration

If you work with others using the same spreadsheet, this is an important feature. If you don’t, you don’t need to focus on this area. However, with Microsoft Excel you save the file locally. If you subscribe to the cloud-based version (which is what you do if you’re paying the monthly service fee), then you can access it on the cloud as well as others. However, you can’t always try it in real time.

With Google Sheets, you can see exactly who is working on the software and even see the changes as the changes are being made in real time. Everything is stored in the cloud (although you can save the files locally as well). If you work with others, either on the other side of the globe or even on the other side of the desk, there’s no need to save the file and email it over (or save it to the cloud for later use). Everything is done in real time, which makes this a real time saver.

Customize Your Spreadsheet Program

Have you ever worked in a program and wished some presets were closer by? If only you could edit the display and make it more personally user-friendly, right? Well, with Microsoft Excel, you can do that. There is a Quick Access toolbar that allows you to adjust the shortcuts and buttons you have on your dashboard. This will speed up the entire process and make things easier. Google Sheets does not allow you to do this at all.

Large Files

Perhaps you need to work on a very large account. Think really large. If you have an extremely large account and file you need to work on, you may find Microsoft is the only option for you. Now, Google Sheets can handle a rather impressive 5 million cells. Chances are you’ll never come close to this kind of size. But what if you do and what if you need to go over?

Well, that’s where Microsoft Excel comes in. With Excel you can handle over 17 billion cells. So in terms of the size of a document, if you need something completely out of this world in terms of size, Microsoft has you covered.

Conclusion

When it comes to Google Sheets vs Excel, the right spreadsheet application will be what works best for your particular needs. You can go with Excel or you can go with Sheets. Both are excellent applications. With Google you can’t beat the price (free), and yet with Excel you receive all kinds of powerful tools. So go through the different features of what makes the two different. You may even want to test the applications out on your own just to see which one feels more comfortable at your fingertips.

man wearing white top using MacBook

What to Do When Excel Keeps Crashing

Microsoft Excel is one of the most-used programs on any PC. For accountants and anyone else who does bookwork on their computer, Excel is a must-have piece of software. However, if Microsoft Excel has crashed, it means there is some kind of issue going on behind the scenes. Excel doesn’t take up much in the way of processing power. In fact, of all the programs you run it is probably on the lower end of the processing power use spectrum. Due to this you likely don’t have any RAM or processor issues when Excel crashes. Instead, you’ll need to look into other reasons for why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing.

Run Excel in Safe Mode When Excel Keeps Crashing

There are times where the best course of action for figuring out why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing is to run the application in Safe Mode. Sometimes unwanted files leach onto the software, so whenever Excel loads, the unwanted file loads as well. Other files may be corrupting the software. When you run Excel in Safe Mode, you’ll discover these leach files do not pop up while you boot in Safe Mode, which in turn will help you not only run the program, but potentially figure out what is causing the issue.

How to Boot in Safe Mode

Booting your software in Safe Mode doesn’t require you to start Windows in Safe Mode. After all, if the problem is only occurring in Excel you likely don’t need the entire computer running in Safe Mode.

In order to boot in Safe Mode you’ll want to hold down the “CTRL” button on the keyboard and then double-click Excel. A prompt window will appear asking if you want to load the application using the Safe Mode.

You can also choose the “Rub” option on the Start menu and then type “excel /safe” (without the quotations) and click “OK.” This will load Excel in Safe Mode. You will need to repeat this process every time you wish to open the application in Safe Mode.

Booting in Regular Mode

Sometimes running Excel in Safe Mode once will correct the problem on the next time you boost the software. Running in Safe Mode can disconnect the application from the issues that are plaguing it, so when you finally start in the standard method you’ll have the application running as it should.

However, if the next time you boot Excel you find that the problem is still popping up, you will need to proceed to the next steps in troubleshooting why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing.

Remove and Investigate Add-Ins

After attempting to run Excel in Safe Mode, if the problems continue, you must continue on with some of your own investigating. Several third-party designers will create add-ins that run on top of Excel. Generally, these applications will work fine as each has been tested time and time again.

However there are times where Microsoft Excel will update and the add-ins will not receive an update for weeks (if not longer), which can cause the issues; or the third-party will not automatically send out the update. You will need to determine if these add-ins are causing the problems.

Sifting through Add-Ins

Many of the add-ins will be installed on the computer registry. You don’t want to dig through the computer’s registry without knowing what you’re doing. If you start doing
that you run the risk of deleting important files from your computer and causing further problems.

Instead, you will want to disable the COM add-ins first. To do this, click the “File” button and then choose “Options.” From the secondary pull-down menu choose “Add-ins.” This will pull-up a new prompt pop-up window. Change the COM add-ins and choose “Go.” When the new window appears, check off all enabled COM add-ins and then select “OK.”

Restarting the Program

Now that all the COM add-ins have been turned off, reboot Excel. If Microsoft Excel keeps crashing, the issue is not with any of the COM add-ins. However, if the application runs correctly, you will know the issue is one of the add-ins.

With this knowledge you can return to the “File,” “Options,” “Add-ins” prompt window and enable them one at a time. Turn one of the add-ins on and then boot the software up. Continue with this process, adding one new COM add-in at a time, until the problem occurs. This will show you exactly which of the add-ins is causing the problems.

After determining which of the add-ins is causing the issue, you can go to the third-party website and see if there is an update or another fix provided by the designer.

Troubleshooting Excel

If none of the previous troubleshooting steps for determining why Microsoft Excel keeps crashing have worked, you’ll need to dive deep into the investigation process. There are a number of different steps you’ll need to perform, but as you check each off at a time, you’ll eventually identify which is the problem and what is causing the problem.

File Details

Over time your Microsoft Excel will update. Microsoft will release updates and patches throughout the year that are designed to improve functionality and features on the application. However, this can change how the file is accessed. Due to this, the Excel file you’re attempting to use may not be compatible with a more recent updates.

If Microsoft Excel keeps crashing when opening a specific file, it is likely because there are improper formulas within the file that cannot be converted. Sometimes there are hundreds (if not more) hidden heights and widths within a file, or there are too many different styles that combine when information is copied and pasted between different files. When this is the case, the file may not open correctly and may mean that Microsoft Excel keeps crashing.

Try opening different files. If the other files load correctly, you know the problem is with the file. If the file is being sent to you by a third-party (or a third-party application designer), you will want to test out features of the file outside of the provided third-party application. This way you can see if it is working accurately.

Selective Startup

If you are at this point and Microsoft Excel keeps crashing, you will now need to perform a selective startup to see if the program itself, or a process, is causing issues with Microsoft Excel.

To perform the selective startup you’ll want to click on the “Start” button and then choose “Run.” When the Run window appears, type “msconfig” (without the quotations) and press “Enter.” This will bring up a System Configuration Utility window. Choose the “Startup” tab at the top of the screen. A new display will show everything that loads when you boot up the operating system.

Knowing what is running when your computer boots up is informative, as you may not know everything that is up and running. Some files might surprise you. You can uncheck the applications you do not want to load. If you installed a program and then Microsoft Excel keeps crashing, you may want to uncheck the application. You may want to experiment with this feature until you find that Microsoft Excel loads correctly.

Sometimes files will run in conflict with Excel. If you receive any error messages when Excel crashes, it might be because of this. So testing out and removing different programs and applications from the startup may be what is needed to determine what is causing the issue.

Check Your Antivirus Software

It is possible your antivirus software is not playing nice with Excel. Sometimes the antivirus software will identify an application on your computer as a potential threat, and as such shoot it down before it can get running (or once certain files are loaded).

When this is the case, you will want to check for any possible updates for your antivirus software. If the software is up to date, you will want to check which files it is identifying as threats. This will vary depending on the antivirus software you have running, but usually it will maintain a list of threats it has shut down. If you see Excel is listed as one of the threats, and the antivirus is stopping the run process, you’ll want to go into the antivirus software and remove Microsoft Excel as a known threat. Once you’re done with that, the software should run correctly.

Conclusion

It is a big pain when Microsoft Excel keeps crashing all the time. Constant crashing will not only prevent you from getting your work done, but it may also cost you work as well. To correct the issue, you’ll want to follow these troubleshooting steps. Typically you’ll be able to correct the problem with the Safe Mode or the Add-In sifting. However, if you don’t, keep at it and follow the secondary troubleshooting steps. You will identify the problem and, once it is corrected, be able to avoid the constant crashing problem with Excel and get your work done.

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How to Find Outliers in Excel in # Easy Steps

Microsoft Excel is generally considered the industry standard in spreadsheet software, specifically because it can adapt to multiple functions and because it is easy to use. Once you know how to use Excel, you know how to use Excel for life. Excel has a variety of uses, from preparing simple order sheets to calculating to creating complex graphic statistical analyses. In this article, we will give you a walk-through on how to find outliers in Excel and why finding outliers is an essential piece of data analytics in statistics.

What Is the Outliers Function in Excel?

Before learning how to find outliers in Excel, you should first know that there is an outliers function embedded in the software that makes it easy to calculate what is and isn’t an outlier. In fact, there are two methods of doing this, including a helpful graph that gives you a visual of the outliers and a formula that helps identify the outlier without forcing you to identify the outliers by hand.

Let’s take a look at some vocabulary you’ll need to know before you start learning how to find outliers in Excel.

Outlier

An outlier is a value that is significantly higher or lower than most of the values in your data and skews your data enough that you might draw an incorrect conclusion about the statistics represented by your data. Outliers aren’t bad, but they definitely aren’t good, either. You can think of an outlier as a bit of imperfection that can ruin your data – like finding a fly on your cake.

Box Plots

A box plot is a kind of graph that makes it easy to visually spot outliers. You can, of course, use Excel to create a box plot if you are so inclined, although that information will be on another tutorial. To put it simply, a box plot is useful because the box is the central tendency of the data. These are plots that show you how data is clustered around a central measure such as the median (middle) value in the data. The upper bound line is the limit of the centralization of that data. If you have values that are outliers on a box plot, then they become very obvious and stick out like a sore thumb.

Quartiles

Essentially, quartiles represent how data is broken up into quarters. Quartiles are actually a central tool in learning how to find outliers in Excel, since the formula for outliers relies on quartiles to make a calculation. A quartile is a dividing point which splits the data into quarters. There are 3 quartiles: Q1, Q2, and Q3. The first quartile (Q1) marks the lower quarter of your data where lesser values live. The middle values live between Q1 and Q3, with Q2 representing the center of your range, and values above Q3 are the upper portion of the data. Outliers live outside the inner quartile range. We’ll go over how to calculate quartiles below.

Array and Quart

The array is the range of values that you are evaluating. And the quart is a number that represents the quartile you wish to return (e.g., 1 for the 1st quartile, 2 for the 2nd quartile, and so on). We mention array and quart under this vocabulary lesson because it is vital that you get these two meanings ingrained in your head since they are the values that you need to actually perform the calculation in Excel. Be careful not to get the two confused.

Now that you have a firm grasp on the terms you will be using to input the formulas for how to find outliers in Excel, it’s time to get down to the step-by-step instructions.

Steps for How to Find Outliers in Excel

As you know, Excel has a ton of functions for statistical analysis that can greatly improve your data analysis. One of those functions is the ability to input a formula to find outliers in statistical formulas. Outliers are pests in statistical analysis since the extreme data points can skew your results and cause misleading assumptions. Outliers can drag your statistical average up or down, which means you could be looking at wildly inaccurate data. Removing outliers gives you a better idea of your actual data.

So, how do you do it? There are a few steps involved in how to find outliers in Excel – enough steps that it could be potentially intimidating to get a good grip on the process. But if you stay with it and follow each step, you will be finding outliers very quickly.

Step One: Calculate the Quartiles

This first step is sort of like a preparation for the main outlier formula. You need to perform this formula well in order to move on to the next step. Remember, a quartile is how your data is split into quarters.

In Excel, you can easily get quartile values by using the QUARTILE function. This function requires two arguments: a range of data (array) and the quartile number you want (quart). The two arguments in the functions are the data that you want to explore. When you have your data in Excel, it is mostly a list of values in a column, which makes this list your data array. The other part of the arguments is the quartile you want to define.

You should identify the 1st and 3rd quartiles by using these formulas:

=QUARTILE(array,1)

and

=QUARTILE(array,3)

Excel will do most of the hard work for you. But say that your target data array covers the cells from B3 to B22. When you input the formula to find the quartile, your array will actually be B3:B22 (the colon sets the range of the cells). That means that your final formula for quartile 1 will be:

=QUARTILE(B3:B22,1)

and your final formula for quartile 3 will be:

=QUARTILE(B3:B22.3)

After inputting the formula, hit enter and Excel will do the rest.

Step Two: Calculate the Interquartile Range

The interquartile range (or IQR) is the middle 50% of values in your data. It is calculated as the difference between the 1st quartile value and the 3rd quartile value.

There is a simple formula that subtracts the 1st quartile from the 3rd quartile. You can use any cell you want to calculate the interquartile range, but for the sake of this example, we will use F cells.

You calculate the interquartile range by subtracting Q1 from Q3. So in Excel, you would simply input

=F3-F2

and hit enter.

Step Three: Find the Lower Bound

The lower and upper bounds are the smallest and largest values of the data range that we want to use. Any values smaller or larger than these bound values are the outliers. We’ll calculate the lower bound limit in cell F5 by multiplying the IQR value by 1.5 and then subtracting it from the Q1 data point, which will look like this:

=F2-(1.5*F4)

Step Four: Find the Upper Bound

To calculate the upper bound in cell F6, we’ll multiply the IQR by 1.5 again, but this time add it to the Q3 data point, which makes the formula

=F3+(1.5*F4)

Calculating the lower and upper bounds might seem tedious at first glance, but it’s actually another vital piece of information that you will use later on. By knowing what the smallest and largest values of your data range are, you are more easily able to find data that doesn’t quite fit. If any of your data falls below or above these limits, it will be considered an outlier.

Step Five: Identify the Outliers

Now that we’ve got all our underlying data set up, it’s time to identify our outlying data points. We’re looking for values that are lower than the lower bound value or higher than the upper bound value.

In Excel, you can use the OR function to perform this logical test and show the values that meet these criteria by entering the following formula into cell C2:

=OR(B2UPPER BOUND)

After you hit enter, Excel will spit out a value. This is the value that you will copy into each of the corresponding C cells of your data array, which would be C3 to C22.

A TRUE value indicates an outlier, while a FALSE value indicates that there is no outlier.

Why Should You Find Outliers?

When performing data analysis, you usually assume that your values cluster around some central data point (a median). But sometimes a few of the values fall too far from the central point. These values are called outliers (they lie outside the expected range). Outliers can skew your statistical analyses, leading you to false or misleading conclusions about your data. Using outliers is an easy way of proving or disproving your statistical assumption. If you have more outliers than you have accurate data points, then the chances are that your conclusion about your statistical data is not going to fall in line with your hypothesis.

Conclusion

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image source: pixabay.com

It’s easier than you think to learn how to find outliers in Excel. And since an outlier is a value that causes a misleading assumption, it’s actually pretty important to know how to find them and how to get rid of them in order to accurately interpret your data. Excel makes this highly involved piece of statistical analysis into something that anybody can perform.

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How to Calculate Z Score in Excel: What You Need to Know

We get it. Statistics can be intimidating. All those numbers and all those graphs and all of the rules on how to interpret everything – it’s enough to make your head spin. Which is why we’re happy to tell you that some things can be less stressful with the use of modern technology. Specifically, the little helper we’re talking about is – no surprise – Microsoft Excel. Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about how to calculate z score in Excel. You’ll be glad you did. It’s easier than you think to learn how to calculate z score in Excel!

Z-Score Fundamentals

First things first! We need to break down the whole concept of a z score. Getting some clarity on the topic will make it that much easier to learn how to calculate a z-score in Excel when the time comes. You have to learn to walk before you can run, right?

What Is a Z Score?

In statistics, a z score is the golden child of standard deviations. A z score is a number that acts as a relative number that exists for the sole purpose of comparing random numbers to some kind of average. The z-score is that average, which means that learning how to calculate z score in Excel is really just a way of calculating a fancy average. And you’ve been calculating averages since grade school – so there’s no reason to be intimidated!

The more technical definition of a z score represents the number of standard deviations from the mean a data point is, so a z score measures how many standard deviations below or above the population mean a raw score is. Z scores range from -3 standard deviations (which would fall to the far left of the normal distribution curve) up to +3 standard deviations (which would fall to the far right of the normal distribution curve).

What Does a Z Score Do?

Basically, a z score can tell you how close or how far your highest or lowest data points are from the average. This is important because when it comes to interpreting your data, the z score tells you how good your data is. When your data points are too far from the z score – meaning when the standard deviation is -3 or +3 – that means you can safely assume that your data points show that there is a problem with your prediction, whatever it is. A z score is a useful tool that is there to tell you how extreme your data points are.

Easy Real World Z Score Example

Repetition makes for memorization. For the sake of making this as clear as possible, the final definition of a z score will be even more simple: a z-score is the standard by which you measure your data. It’s there for the sake of comparison, like the numeral equivalent of a devil’s advocate.

Z scores are a way to compare results from a test to a normal population. Results from tests or surveys have thousands of results and units. However, those results can often seem meaningless, just a mishmash of numbers that don’t mean anything. For example, knowing that a house cat typically weighs 8 pounds is great, but if you want to compare it to the “average” cat’s weight, looking at a table of data can be overwhelming. A z score can tell you how that cat’s weight is compared to the average population’s mean weight, and then you can decide if your cat needs to lose weight or not.

The Z Score Formula

Actually, depending on what you’re using the z score for, there are two different z score formulas to choose from – and choosing the right formula is important. But rest assured that for any zscore formula you will need two numbers: the mean (μ) and also the population standard deviation (σ). You will need both of these when you learn how to calculate the z-score in Excel.

The Basic Z Score Formula

The basic z score formula for a sample is:z = (x – μ) / σ

This is a formula that assumes a normal distribution for the z score is possible. In this formula, x represents the selected data point from your data set, the μ is the mean of your data points and the σ is your standard deviation. This formula is good to use for proving your predictions correct.

Standard Error of the Mean

When you have multiple samples and want to describe the standard deviation of those sample means (the standard error), you will use this z score formula:z = (x – μ) / (σ / √n)

This z score will tell you how many standard errors there are between the sample mean and the population mean. This z score formula essentially tells you how probable it is to find a sample that is above the mean of your sample population – or, in other words, how often your standard deviation will be disproven.

How to Calculate the Z Score in Excel

Now that you know what a z score is and the basic formula you will be using, it’s time to learn how to calculate z score in Excel. Be prepared by having your data points easily accessible and be forewarned that there will be a lot of data entry. Just as a reminder – double check your numbers and always calculate your z score twice!

Step 1: Open Excel

Start from the top and open Microsoft Excel on your computer. Excel is the application that has an icon of a green sheet with an “X” in front of a table. Open the Excel file with the dataset you want to find the z scores for, otherwise, input your data into the first column (A) of a new blank Excel document. Make sure your numbers are vertical and not horizontal – don’t make the mistake of inputting your data into a row instead of a column. Also look over your data entry before going any further!

Step 2: Enter the Mean Formula

Enter the mean formula in a blank cell in the same column you put your data points in. When you have all your data points recorded in an Excel spreadsheet, you can calculate the mean using this formula: =AVERAGE(“cell range”). You will be replacing “cell range” with the range of cells that contain your data points.

So, say that your data points are from cell A1 to cell A13. in A 14, you will put =AVERAGE(A1:A13) and then you will hit ENTER on your keyboard so Excel knows to calculate that formula. It’s important to remember that Excel responds only to commands that start with an equal sign (=) and that there should be no spaces in between any part of the formula. After you hit ENTER, if you’ve entered the mean formula correctly, Excel will replace your formula with the mean of your data points.

Step 3: Enter the Standard Deviation Formula

For data points that are recorded in an Excel spreadsheet, you can calculate the standard deviation using the formula =STDEV(“cell range”) in a blank cell, replacing “cell range” with the same range of cells that contain all your data points.

So, continuing with our previous example, in the A15 cell, you would put =STDEV(A1:A13) and hit ENTER. Once again, Excel will replace your formula with a number, which will be your standard deviation.

Step 4: Finding the Z-Score

Now that you’ve come this far, it’s time to finally learn how to calculate a z score in Excel. In a blank cell next to the cell of the data point you want to find the z score of, enter the formula =(datapoint-$mean)/$standard deviation, replacing “data point” with the cell of the data point, and replacing “mean” and “standard deviation” with the absolute cell locations.

So, say you want to find the z score of the data in the A8 cell. What you would do is click on the blank B8 cell and input =(A8-$A$14)/$A$15 and then hit ENTER to calculate the z score. Again, you will be typing in the equal sign, open parentheses, the cell that has the desired data point, the minus sign, a dollar sign, the column of the mean score, another dollar sign, the row of the mean score, close parentheses, a forward slash, a dollar sign, the column of the standard deviation, another dollar sign, the row of the standard deviation, and then finally ENTER.

As a point of note, the dollar signs in the z score formula are the way that Excel knows that the numbers in your mean formula and standard deviation formula cells will remain constant even if you use those cells over and over to calculate the z score for all of your data points.

Conclusion

two men working together

image source: unsplash.com via Helloquence

See how easy that was? Learning how to calculate z score in Excel is a cakewalk because Excel does all the really hard work for you. Of course, the job of interpreting what the z score means still falls to your shoulders, but at least you don’t have to make your head ache by hand-writing and calculating the z score formula. Simply use Excel to find your mean formula and your standard deviation, and then you’re only one simple input away from finding the z score for any point of data you want.

Still not seeming so simple? Try it for yourself! Trust us, it gets easier after inputting the formula a few times!

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How to Find Variance in Excel? Follow These Tips

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Microsoft Excel is a ubiquitous product, and one that gets used for many organizational tasks. Most people are familiar with the program’s basic format even if they don’t own it themselves. In addition, simple operations such as adding or deleting columns or populating individual cells with data are easy to figure out with little instruction. There’s a lot more to Excel than the basics, though: the program contains many logical and mathematical operations that are useful when dealing with large amounts of data, and these operations require more knowledge to use effectively. One of the most useful among these is the ability to calculate a value known as variance. Knowing how to find variance in Excel is a very helpful skill to have while designing any spreadsheet, especially if one understands the nuances of the function.

What Is Variance?

The Meaning of the Term

One of the most important steps towards understanding how to find variance in Excel is knowing what variance is. Variance is a value found in any large set of data that represents the average distance any single data value in the set is from the mean. If we made an equation to predict what the next data point in a set would be, the variance would be how far off the actual data point would likely be from that prediction.

Two Kinds of Variance

There are actually two forms of variance. Each of them is useful in a slightly different situation, and each value is calculated differently. The form of variance we just defined is also known as population variance. This means it’s the variance of a complete set of data, which distinguishes it from the other form of variance: sample variance.

Sample variance is a form of variance that’s calculated when you only have access to a sample of values from a larger set. Both variances represent the same thing and have the same uses, but they are each calculated differently. Fortunately, Excel has multiple functions for finding each.

How to Use Variance

While it can show the reliability of a set, variance by itself is not always a popular value to draw conclusions from. Because of how variance is calculated, it can be confusing: Variances are difficult to express meaningfully on a graph, and often aren’t expressed in the same units as the actual data within their set.

To find a value that can be better understood visually, one must take the square root of a set’s variance. This results in a value known as the standard deviation, which is expressed in the same unit as the data in the set and is closer to each point’s difference from the mean.

When you hear of a prediction that states the result ‘give or take’ a certain value, the value they’re talking about is the standard deviation. Fortunately, knowing how to find variance in excel also means knowing how to find this: To find a set’s standard of deviation, you just need to take the square root of the variance once it is calculated.

The Six Variance Functions In Excel

Plenty of Options

Knowing how to find variance in Excel isn’t as simple as knowing the one function that will calculate the value. Excel has six different functions that can calculate variance, each of which has unique properties. Using the functions well requires knowing the qualities of each and understanding what situations they work best in. Fortunately, Excel’s six VAR functions can be split into three easily explained groups.

VAR.P and VAR.S: Population and Sample Functions

VAR.P and VAR.S are the most basic functions for calculating variance. The letter after the period specifies the variance being calculated: VAR.P calculates population variance, and VAR.S calculates sample variance.

These are the most commonly used functions, but there is one complication involved in using them: the function does not exist in older versions of Excel and opening a spreadsheet that uses it with one of these versions will cause compatibility issues.

VAR and VARP: The Old Functions

Before VAR.P and VAR.S were implemented, VAR and VARP were Excel’s basic variance functions. Like the more modern functions, they calculate the two basic kinds of variance: VAR calculates sample variance while VARP calculates population variance. These functions may eventually be phased out of Excel, but for the time being, they exist in every version of the program.

Microsoft considers VAR and VARP ‘compatibility functions’, and they exist to provide reliable choices for spreadsheets that will be opened on older versions of the software. However, they are slightly less accurate than the modern functions.

VARA and VARPA: Assigned Values

Of all the variance functions in Excel, VARA and VARPA are probably the most complicated of the options. VARA and VARPA calculate sample variance and population variance, respectively, but these two functions interact differently with other contents within the spreadsheet.

While Excel’s other four variance functions only recognize the content of referenced cells if that content is a number, VARA and VARPA read any assigned values within referenced cells or arrays. This means that VARA and VARPA will recognize written numbers in any cells or arrays referenced in the function: if one contains the word ‘four’, the functions will calculate the variance as though that cell contained the number 4. The functions will recognize all other text, including an empty cell, as a 0.

VARA and VARPA can also recognize logical values in the same way: if the contents of a cell or array contain the word ‘TRUE’, the functions will count it as a 1, and if they contain ‘FALSE’ the functions will count it as a 0.

If a spreadsheet contains many written elements or logical values these functions can save a lot of time, but they should be used cautiously. Overlooked text can lead to cells registering a value they shouldn’t and causing an inaccurate result.

Calculating Variance Using Excel’s VAR Function

How to Find Variance in Excel

Now that all of the individual variance functions in Excel have been explained, it’s time to learn how to implement them. Fortunately, all six of the functions use the same syntax, and aside from the differences already mentioned, work in the same way.

In order to calculate the variance of a set, you must first select a cell in your spreadsheet you want to display the variance in. Then, type an ‘=’ sign followed by the name of the function you intend to use into that box, followed by a set of parentheses.

Place the numbers you want the variance to be calculated from inside the parentheses, separated by commas: these arguments can be numbers, logical values, or arrays. The function should automatically calculate the variance of the data you have selected and display it in the cell.

Example Using the Arguments List

Now that we’ve explained the principle, here are some specific examples of how to find variance in excel. First, we’ll use a simple example: This one only uses numbers written directly into the function as arguments and does not interact with other cells in the spreadsheet.

Let’s say we have a set that contains the numbers 13, 15, 18, 17, 24, 22 and 10. We know that this a sample of a larger set and for the sake of this example we expect the spreadsheet to be opened on older versions of Excel, so we use VAR to calculate the sample variance. To do this, we type this into the cell:

=VAR(13, 15, 18, 17, 22, 10)

Example Using an Array

Now that we’ve seen a basic example of how to find variance in Excel, here’s an example that’s more in line with how you would use the functions in an average spreadsheet.

This time let’s say we have a set that’s contained in a 10 x 4 box of cells in our spreadsheet, with cell A1 at the top left-hand corner of the box and cell D10 in the bottom right. We use VAR to calculate the sample variance and this time we enter the arrays of the cells containing the data as the arguments. That will look like this:

=VAR(A1:D10)

Conclusion

With this, we’ve gone over everything you need to know about how to find variance in Excel. You’ve learned what variance is and have a general understanding of both its importance in statistics and how to derive useful values from it. You’ve learned about population and sample variance and what situations each form of variance is used in. You’ve seen all six of the functions Excel provides for calculating the value. You know what functions to use to have your functions recognize assigned values, and you know which functions to use when compatibility is a concern. You understand the syntax of the functions and have seen firsthand what the use of those functions looks like in various situations.

Congratulations! You are now fully prepared to design spreadsheets that calculate and display variance, and are one step closer to being an Excel pro!

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How to Print Labels from Excel: Ultimate Guide

There are times where you will want to print from any number of applications on your computer. This includes Microsoft Excel. The software allows you to not only create spreadsheets but also labels. If you have several labels you need to produce, whether for mailing or for personal identification, you will want to generate the labels in Excel and then go about printing the information. Here is what you need to know regarding how to print labels from Excel. 

Prepare the Worksheet and Enter the Data

Before you can begin with looking at how to print labels from Excel, you need to properly create your worksheet, format it and then set up the data to be used within Microsoft Excel. This example will focus on producing mailing labels for print (which you can print on sticky paper, so it is easy to remove the label and slap it onto an envelope or mailing box), although you can use the steps for generating any kind of labels for printing.

Creating the Labels In Excel

Open up Microsoft Excel. You don’t need to adjust the number of columns or rows you’re working in, so just dive right into the entering of information. You will want to type in the first cell of each column the basic information you will need for the label.

In the case of a mailing label, the first column should be the person’s “Title” (as in Mr, Ms., Dr., and so on). The second column should be their first name, the third column should be their last. The fourth column should be street address, followed by city, state, and ZIP code.

If you’re making something other than a mailing label, you need to break down the information into individual columns. Perhaps you’re printing off ID labels for use by individuals at a conference. You can still use the first and last name columns, only now add in their business title, company they work for, and so on.

Type In the Data

Now that you have the columns created you can go about entering in the data. Fill out all the information you have, making sure not to leave blank rows or columns. Once you have completed the process of entering all the information into your file, make sure to save it.

Formatting the File

You will need to connect to an Excel worksheet from Word to print your data. As this is likely the first time you have done this, you will need to enable a conversion format between the two Microsoft programs.

To do this, click the “File” button in the top left corner of the program window. From here, select “Options.” A new “Word Options” window will open up. In the display window, click “Advanced” along the left side of the screen, then choose “General.” This will bring up a new series of information. From the new listed material, check “Confirm File Format Conversion on Open,” then click “OK” to confirm everything. This will allow you to create the labels as you import the data.

Opening Word

Now that you are all set and ready to use Word to help aid you with the printing process, you’ll want to launch Microsoft Word and open a blank Word document (this should open automatically). Click on the “Mailings” tab, then select “Start Mail Merge” and follow up by clicking “Labels.”

Scroll through and select the brand you’d like in the “Label Vendors” box and select a product number. This will be displayed on the label package. You can also choose “New Label” if you’d like to enter in any custom label dimensions (if not, go by the size of the label you are interested in, which should be listed, unless you are specially crafting the label yourself and are not using a pre-made label size).

Connecting Labels to Word

Microsoft Word is now all set up to receive your information from Excel. The next step for how to print labels from Excel is to click on the “Mailings” tab and choose “Select Recipients” from the Mail Merge group. In the new pull-down menu select “Use an Existing List.”

Now, choose the Excel worksheet you created earlier and click “Open.” Now, select “OK” in order to confirm that you want to use this particular list. Click “OK” a second time when asked to select the table. In a moment, the Microsoft Word screen will generate new labels and say “Next Record.”

Connecting Mail Merge Fields

With everything connecting as it should, your next step for how to print labels from Excel is to connect mail merge fields. This way, the labels will appear correctly within Microsoft Word, allowing you to print the data.

In order to do this, you will need to select the first label listed on your Microsoft Word document and then click on “Mailings” from the top of the screen. Now choose “Write & Insert Fields” from the pull-down menu and finally click on “Address Block.”

A new set of options will appear on the screen. Choose “Insert Address Block” from the window and then click on “Match Fields.”

The window will now display what the labels will look like should you accept the input information. Look over the displayed information to make sure it is entered in properly (it should be, as long as you typed everything into Excel correctly). Scroll through the display window and, if any changes need to be made, click on the drop-down arrow next to the display and make the necessary edits.

Now, click “OK.” Click “OK” a second time to exit out of the dialog box and then click back on the “Mailing” tab, followed by “Write & Insert Fields,” and finally “Update Labels.”

Merge

With everything set, now all you need to do is merge the information from Excel into the document. Choose the “Mailing” tab, click “Finish” and then choose “Finish & Merge” from the list of options. From there, choose “Edit Individual Documents” to look over how all the printed labels will eventually appear in the document. If it looks as it should, choose “All” and then “OK.”

From here a brand new document will load on your screen. This imports all the labels from your Microsoft Excel worksheet. You can now make any necessary edits or adjustments to the information if need be.

Previewing and How to Print Labels From Excel

Everything has now been imported and your labels are ready to go. You are now at the final stages of the how to print labels from Excel instructions. You need to make sure everything looks good to print.

Click on the “File” tab in the program, then choose “Print Preview.” This will load a window and display exactly how the document will look after you print it. Go over everything to make sure it looks correct. When you are satisfied with how the information is presented choose “OK.”

If you are printing on sticky labels, you need to make sure the paper is inserted correctly. If you are using a standard desktop printer and the paper is inserted in a tray on the bottom of the printer, you will typically want to insert the labels facing down (the paper is spun up, so when it rotates the ink will be applied to the correct side of the document). If, on the other hand, you use a printer that is rear fed, with the paper positioned vertically behind the printer, the label side will face outward, toward you.

Once the paper is in and you’re ready to print, click on the “File” tab again and then choose “Print.” A printer window prompt will appear on the screen. As long as you don’t need to make any paper size adjustments you should be good to go. Click “Print” again and the software will send out the information to the printer. Momentarily, the printer will begin.

Make sure you monitor the first sheet that is printed. This way, if there is an error in paper alignment, you have the wrong size stickers inserted, or there is another issue, you can cancel the print job. Sticky label paper is not cheap, so it’s best to stop the printing process as early as possible to avoid destroying any other paper you might need.

Conclusion

The beauty of Microsoft Excel is that it is more than just a standard spreadsheet program designed to help organize information. It can also be used to print information, such as labels. If you have a large mailing list and you need to send out information, typing in the mailing list and creating the labels directly in Microsoft Word is time-consuming and often difficult to format. Additionally, you may already have the information typed in Excel anyway. By following these how to print labels from Excel instructions, you’ll be able to quickly and easily print any label from Excel, regardless of the information or how many labels you need.

creating graphs and charts using excel basics shown on the laptop

Sort Your Life into Neat Little Boxes with These Excel Basics

I’ve Heard of Excel, But I Don’t Know What It Is

Excel is like that one coworker whose name you never learned until it was too late to ask. You’ve seen Excel around. Maybe you’ve seen it on a job description or you know it as the little green icon on your computer you never click.

Excel icon with question marks around

Image via Pixabay (altered)

What does it actually do though?

Excel is part of the Microsoft Office collection of applications designed to for the workplace. You may be familiar with some other apps in the collection like Word or Powerpoint.

These other apps are self-explanatory. Word helps you write words. Powerpoint helps you make your point, powerfully. Excel is the weird one.

What does it help you excel at? Does it make you faster? Does it make you smarter? Does it make you better at movie trivia?

It does all those things. Excel is a tool for organizing data. It gives you a functionally infinite number of little boxes to fill with numbers, words, or any other piece of information you choose.

school teacher giving excel basics lesson

Image via Pixabay

Beyond that, it gives you tools to track, calculate, and predict many ways that information can intersect. When you learn the Excel basics, it takes care of all the small ideas so you can worry about the big ones.

That Sounds Great, What Does It Mean?

Excel lets you build spreadsheets, which consist of numbered columns and lettered rows. It’s like a bingo board but a lot more useful (unless you’re extremely lucky at bingo).

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Typically and in its most simple form, one set of data goes in the columns and the corresponding set goes in the rows. This gives you the power to communicate a connection between two ideas without using words.

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We do this all the time without realizing it. Say you’re making a shopping list. You wouldn’t write out in full sentences everything you need and how many of each item you need.

You would list every item you need and write the quantity of that item needed next to it. Excel makes it possible to do this on a greater and much more complex scale.

It’s a simple and effective method of bookkeeping in almost any scenario. It also creates an easily readable and searchable archive of all your data.

Remembering Things Is Boring and Hard, So Why Do It?

Even after learning only a few excel basics, you can create a detailed, living picture of what you have, what you need, and how you’re doing.

Let’s say you sell bulk circus equipment. Some Bozo calls you and says, “Hey! I bought 1,000 red noses from you two years ago. I just now got around to counting and you only sent 500! I want a refund!”

huge piles of office paper files

Image via Pixabay

This could go two ways. You could search through your paper records for this transaction. It could take a while and you may never find it.

If you knew the Excel basics, however, you could search your archive and within seconds discover that Bozo only ordered 500 noses.

Having a well kept digital archive will save you time and money. It may also keep you in the good graces of clowns, who you do not want to cross.

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Put It On My Computer!

Now you want Excel. Why wouldn’t you? It’s great! How do you get it?

You do the same thing you do when you buy literally anything, you go on the internet!

Excel is available through a subscription plan called “Office 365.” For a yearly fee, you get access to Excel and several other apps and services in the Microsoft Office suite.

Go to products.office.com and select the “products” pull-down menu. There, you’ll see options for individuals, homes, and offices. Select the plan that works for you and purchase it!

Follow the prompts to download and install Excel and you’re ready to go! Before you work with Excel, take time to familiarize yourself with the app.

Don’t be Basic, Learn the Excel Basics!

It’s a familiar scene. You’re at the watercooler. That spreadsheet hotshot Brian is talking about a beautiful budget proposal he put together and he is NOT humble about it.

Small business meeting in the office

Image via Pixabay

Everyone is talking about his formatting and vibrant use of shading and you’re worried what people will think of you if you don’t chime in soon.You open your mouth and a disastrous faux pas falls out.

You confused a workbook with a worksheet and everybody heard you. You’ve revealed yourself to be an Excel poser. Plus you KNOW Brian will not let this go, he’ll be calling you “worksheet” for weeks. If you only you’d studied your Excel basics.

Here’s a handy list of Excel terms and definitions to make sure this chilling scenario doesn’t happen to you.

Terms

Definition

Workbook

an Excel file. This is the main .xlsx file that contains every piece of data you’ve entered

Worksheet

A single page within your workbook. These are the actual spreadsheets in your file

Workspace

The specific arrangement of windows in your workbook

Columns

The numbered vertical alignment of cells on your worksheet

Rows

An individual box where you enter data on your worksheet

Headings

The numbered or lettered grey area of your columns and rows

Template

A workbook that has already been formatted to a specific need

Formatting

The visual appearance of cells

Conditional Formatting:

Formatting that applies only to cells which meet the criteria you have set

Formula

A sequence in a cell that defines the interaction between data in other cells and produces the value that results from that interaction

Formula bar

A bar above the worksheet that displays any formulas in the active cell

Ribbon

The space above the formula bar with tools and other options

Filter

A rule you can set to determine which cells in a worksheet are displayed

Freeze Panes

A group of columns or rows that may select to stay visible, even if you scroll away from them

A Fresh Start

You’ve downloaded and installed Excel. You learned some terms. Now it’s time to learn the Excel basics.

Open the “File” menu on the top left of the screen and select “New.”

From here you can watch in-app tutorials and select from thousands of pre-made templates, or you can make like Fleetwood Mac and go your own way by selecting “Blank workbook.”

Click on “Blank workbook.” That will open a blank sheet filled with nothing but potential!

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Fill Those Cells with Your Sweet Sweet Words (or Numbers)

The only people who like empty boxes are cats and kids with big imaginations, so let’s fill them up!

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Entering data is simple, just double click the cell you want to type in and type in it! Try it out with one of your favorite words or phrases, treat yourself.

excel document with “cellar door” written in one cell

You may find that the box is not wide enough for your input, but don’t worry! Like the maternity pants you always wear to Thanksgiving dinner, you can adjust the width.

Go to the top of the column where you see the letters and hover over the line between them. Your cursor should turn into a line intersected by two arrows. Click and drag the columns’ borders in the direction you choose.

excel document with columns of varying width

Make It Pretty

People are shallow, they’ll ignore the most important information in the world if it’s ugly. So let’s learn a little about the cosmetics of spreadsheets. Aesthetics are part of the Excel basics.

A new paint job can take a wall from drab to “dang! That looks good” and the same principle applies to the cells on your spreadsheet.

To apply cell shading, first select the cells you want to shade. You do this by clicking on one, holding it down, and dragging your cursor over the rest.

excel document with different shades of color on three cells

In the home menu, find the paint bucket icon and click the arrow next to it. This will bring down a selection of color options.

If you don’t see the color you want, don’t worry! Click “more colors” to bring up a box with a greater selection under the “Standard” tab and the full RGB spectrum under the “Custom” tab.

Consider your audience and the purpose of color for these cells. Choose a nice red to grab their attention, soft baby blue to put them at ease, or the exact shade of chestnut brown that matches the hair of someone they loved and lost to make them nostalgic and emotional.

color tab showing different options of color model in excel

You can use the same method to change the color text in a cell or cells by selecting the “A” next to the paint bucket.

To get rid of shading, use the same method but instead of selecting a color, select “No fill.”

Save Early, Save Often

You’ve spent hours entering data and perfecting the look of your workbook. It’s finally ready to show your boss and then …

Oh no.

No no no no no no no

Brian, that show off, was bragging about his latest fantasy football win, he ran back to go catch an imaginary pass and he knocked your laptop right out of your hands.

The screen goes black when it hits the floor. After several terrifying minutes, your computer comes back on. Miraculously, it still works. You smile until you remember.

You didn’t save your work. You’ve lost the perfect spreadsheet.

man using his laptop to create basic excel worksheet

Image via Pixabay

All you had to do was click file, then save, then choose your destination, and name the file. You even could have cut out the first two steps by clicking on the floppy disk icon at the top of the screen. There’s no point in learning the Excel basics if everything gets erased.

excel home screen showing autosave icon

You can also get around this whole problem if you have Microsoft OneDrive installed. In that case, turn on auto-saving using the switch directly next to the floppy disc icon. With this feature, your workbook will save automatically.

Let’s Play with Ribbon

Everybody loves ribbon, from overzealous moms wrapping presents at Christmas to cats

In Excel, the ribbon is the row of menu buttons and the tools and options that appear when you select each one. Let’s get into the functions of some of those buttons.

We’ve already covered several of the buttons in the file menu, which is first on the menu bar. The second button the menu bar is selected by default because it’s the only one you need to master the Excel basics. It says “Home.”

home screen of excel showing different options to make an edit

Makin’ Copies

The home menu has seven parts. Going left to right, the first one contains the copy and paste options.

autosave screenshot of excel

The clipboard icon is your basic paste. It takes whatever you’ve copied and places it in the active cell.

There are two different ways to do this, which you can change by clicking the arrow underneath the clipboard. “Keep source formatting” will paste the content you copied with the same formatting in which you copied it.

“Match destination formatting” will paste the content, but conform the formatting to the cell you are pasting it to.

Next to that is the scissors, but they’re not for cutting paper or hair. They’re for cutting ideas. Clicking this will copy what’s in the active cell and then delete it. This is ideal for moving something from one cell to another.

two men carrying a long block of wood in silhouette form

Image via Pixabay

Below the scissors, you’ll see two pieces of paper. This is the copy option, it will copy what’s in the active cell, but not delete it. It’s great for duplicating content.

Finally, we have the paint brush, below the paper. Click this to both copy and paste only the formatting of a cell without copying the content.

Clicking the arrow next to the word “clipboard” at the bottom will show you what you have last copied.

Stylin’ and Profilin’

The second section of the home menu allows you to change the font and style of cells. Remember when I said aesthetics were part of the Excel basics? Here’s where you can take more precise control of the look of your workbook.

font style and font size dropdown menu on excel

The bar controls the font. You can choose whatever font you like for your work, but remember: nobody likes Comic Sans.

Next to the font bar, there’s a box with a number in it and next to that there’s a big A and a littler A. These control the font size. Choose any number you want in the box or increase and decrease by one at a time with the A buttons.

Under these you’ll see the letters “B,” “I,” and “U.” Clicking “B” will make highlighted words bold, so readers will hear them loudly in their head. “I” puts highlighted words in italics. Readers will hear these like a whispered secret. “U” underlines highlighted words. This will tell the reader you’re serious.

Next to those you’ll see a box with a grid. This sets the color, style, and thickness of your cells’ borders.

borders dropdown page on excel

Clicking the grid button itself will apply the current border settings to the active cell. Clicking the arrow next to it will give you options. All the options have illustrations next to them, so pick the one you like.

Clicking the arrow at the bottom of this section will open the cell formatting menu, which has all the options described above and more!

To the Left, to the Left (or the Right or Top or Bottom)

Like a bad Dungeons and Dragons character, your text can change alignment at any time. The third segment of the home menu controls these options.

text alignment options on excel

On the left side of this segment, you’ll see six buttons with a collection of three to four straight lines. The top three buttons control the vertical alignment of the text in a cell, the bottom three control the horizontal alignment.

Next to these, you’ll see the letters “ab” with an arrow under them. This allows you to rotate text. It’s a nice formatting option, but it can increase the size of your cell. Act like a nervous DJ: spin cautiously.

Underneath the rotate button are two that look a lot like the alignment buttons. Use these to increase or decrease the amount of indentation in your cell. You can put your words square in the middle of a cell so they don’t get claustrophobic or have them hug the borders if they need a friend.

wrap text and merge options screenshot on excel

Next to that, you’ll see the words “Wrap Text” and “Merge & Center.” If your text does not fit in the cell and you don’t wish to make it wider, “Wrap Text” will stack the words on top of each other and increase the length of the cell if necessary.

screenshot of how to change the size of a cell

Maybe you don’t want to change the size of your cell at all. That’s reasonable, changing the size of one cell will create a lot of ugly empty space in all the other cells in that row or column. “Merge & Center” is a great way to avoid that.

“Merge & Center” combines two or more cells into one and places the text in the middle. In other words it …

Merges and centers them. It seems obvious in retrospect. If you want to merge without centering, click the arrow next to the button for more options. This is also where you unmerge cells. These are the Excel basics that get overlooked.

The arrow next the word “alignment” at the bottom takes you to the same menu as the font arrow.

Intro to Mathematics

Math nerds rejoice, it’s finally time to talk numbers. The driest part of the Excel basics, but it’s also what Excel does best. The fourth segment in the home menu controls the format in which numbers will appear in your worksheet. You can set the format for the overall sheet or for individual cells by highlighting them.

general view of setting on excel

At the top, you’ll see a bar that says “General.” This sets the general format. Click on it and you’ll see your options. Numbers will appear differently if you’re dealing in money, dates, times, percentages, etc.

Below that bar, you’ll see five buttons. The first defaults to a dollar sign (assuming you live in a country that uses dollars). Click on this to change the format of currency. You’ll see a drop-down menu with symbols for pounds, euros, yen, and a “more accounting options” button. That button will bring up a menu with all the currencies of the world.

Next to that you’ll see the percent symbol, this is a shortcut to the same button in the general drop-down menu.

Then you have the big comma button. This will format your numbers so have commas in them so that numbers go from 6000 to 6,000. This button saves both time and strain on your middle finger when writing out a lot of large numbers. There’s nothing worse than a middle finger injury because you can’t even register your displeasure with the thing that injured you.

Next to the comma you’ll see zeroes and arrows. These add or subtract decimal places to your numbers. You can add a hundred decimal places for extreme precision or play it fast and loose by taking them all away. There’s room for all styles within the Excel basics.

The arrow next to the word “numbers” once again takes you to that same formal cells menu as both the “alignment” and “font” arrows.

Stylin’ and Profilin’ Part II

Enough nerd stuff, let’s get back the fun part of the Excel basics. The fifth segment of the home menu is like Paris during fashion week: full of style!

formatting table options on excel

This one’s simple, only three buttons.

The first one is “Conditional Formatting.” You may remember those words from the handy chart up above. You can set rules which will automatically change the formatting of certain cells. You can do this with numbers above or a below a certain threshold, dates within a certain range, and more.

For example, let’s say you want to make the most recent information pop. You would click the “Conditional Formatting” button, hover over “Highlight Cell Rules” and click “A Date Occurring…”

an example of conditional formatting in a cell

This brings up a menu that says “Format cells that contain a date occurring:” with two bars below it. In the left bar, select “Yesterday” and in the right select “Light Red Fill with Dark Red Text.” Any instance of yesterday’s date will automatically change to this format. This will stay consistent whenever someone views the file. Call yourself Dr. Frankenstein because you’ve brought life to your document, it can think and change as time goes by.

Let’s Table This

This next button is a doozy that’s why it’s getting its own section. It’s a robust piece of software, so even the Excel basics can get a little complicated. The second button in this segment says “Format as Table”. Excel tables organize your data like dinner tables organize food, they give you a nice pretty plane to put it all on.

sample formatted table on excel

Tables can be made up of the following parts …

Header Row

By default, tables have header rows. This is a row of cells at the top of your table that labels the columns and allows you to sort and filter your content. We’ll go deeper on sorting and filtering later.

Banded Rows

The banded rows are all the other rows. The alternate in color to improve readability. This is a good opportunity to have fun but still look professional. You can make them tiger striped!

sample table with its header colored as orange

Calculated Columns

If you type a formula (again, more on those later) into one cell in a blank column, it will automatically spread to the rest of the cells in that column. That’s a calculated column.

Total Row

This is a row at the bottom of the table that calculates the totals of each of the columns.

Sizing Handle

The sizing handle is the little mark on the bottom right corner of the table. Drag this to change the borders of the table.

Okay Where Were We?

Now you know what a table is, let’s get back to the Home menu. The button next to “Format as Table” says “Cell Styles.” This is your walk-in closet, it gives you even more style options for your cells.

cell styles option on excel

This menu suggests different shading styles to communicate different things. It also lets you select gradients of color. When full color is too powerful, you can use the more subtle touch of a 20, 40, or 60 percent accent. You’re learning the Excel basics, but they give the tools to be complex.

Let’s Get Some More Cells in There

The sixth segment in the home menu lets you add and subtract cells. It also gives you another way to format them.

cells menu options to add or remove cells

“Insert” will add a row of cells above your active cell, giving you a little more head room if you need it. Clicking the arrow on the bottom of the button gives you the option to add rows or columns and in different places.

Like the proverbial good Lord, Excel can both giveth and taketh away. “Delete” removes cells in the same way “Insert” adds them with one difference. Instead of deleting the row above your active cell, it deletes the row your active cell is in. Be careful with this one and remember: if you delete the wrong cells, a quick press of Ctrl + Z (or ⌘ + Z on a Mac) will bring it back as long as you have done nothing else since you deleted it.

This also applies to any singular incorrect move in Excel.

The final button is “Format.” This button is another way to change the size and shape of cells like we already described, but unlike an old dog, it also does some new tricks.

Click the arrow on this button and you’ll see those familiar ways of altering cells, but you’ll also have the option of renaming your worksheet. Give it a nice name like “William” or “Susan.” You could also name it something professional like “Budget” or “Calendar”.

altering cells on excel tabs

You can also change the color of these tabs. It’s not the most prominent part of the worksheet, but with the Excel basics, you can change the look anything in the window.

Cut the Fat!

I know. Your work is precious. After spending all this time on your sheet, cutting anything is heartbreaking but the more you work on something, the more chances it has to get bloated. The seventh and final segment on the home menu is “Editing” and it can help with that.

editing tab with autoSum option

The first button in this segment says “AutoSum” and you know what that means …

It’s Time to Talk Functions

This is another big one so get ready. Let’s talk about formulas, functions, what they are, and the difference between them.

In Excel, a formula is an algebraic equation you put in a cell to generate numbers.

Nobody likes to think about algebra when they’re in school so you especially don’t want to think about algebra now you’re out of school. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it seems and this is probably the hardest part of learning the Excel basics so it won’t get worse than this.

Here’s a simple example with the most basic formula there is: AutoSum.

If you enter the value of 2 in cell A1 and the value of 2 in A2, you can enter =SUM(A1:A2) in A3 and when you hit enter, Excel will do the math of adding the values in A1 and A2 and display the number 4 in A3.

how AutoSum formula is done for adding values of cells

Formulas always start with an equals sign. This lets Excel know that whatever follows that = is a formula.

In love, it’s up to you and your partner to define the relationship. In Excel, the word immediately after the equals sign defines the relationship between the cells listed in between the parenthesis. So in this instance, “SUM” tells Excel to add those numbers.

There is no limit to the number of cells you can place in between the parenthesis. You can do this by entering the coordinates of the cells, which has a fun Battleship vibe or you can select them with your mouse while the formula is open, which is typically faster.

Don’t enter every individual cell’s coordinates! If you wanted to select A1 through A100, you wouldn’t type “A1:A2:A3:” and so on. It’s tedious and will not work. Instead, type “A1:A100” It will automatically include all cells in that range.

Congratulations! You’ve learned your first formula AND your first function. A function is a formula that’s pre-programmed into Excel. Here’s a list of the most popular functions in Excel. This is a cornerstone of the Excel basics.

Terms

Definition

SUM

Creates a sum of values in the selected cells

AVERAGE

Calculates the average of the values in the selected cells

COUNT

 Will count the number of cells that have a numerical value in them

MAX

 Will return the highest value in the selected cells

MIN

Will return the lowest value in the selected cells

IF

Displays one value if a condition is met and another if it is not

LOOKUP

When given the value of a single row or column, will return the value in the same cell in another row or column

MATCH

Searches a range of cells for a specific value and returns to relative position of that value within the range

DAYS

Will return the number of days between two dates

Okay, Back to the Ribbon!

The first five functions in the chart are all listed in the AutoSum drop-down menu. Clicking on them will save you the trouble of having to type them out.

AutoSum dropdown menu

Under the AutoSum button is the Fill button. This is another tricky one!

Clicking on “Fill” results in a drop-down menu with the basic options “Up,” Down,” “Left,” and “Right” and more advanced options below that.

The Fill option takes a value from one cell and automatically moves it to another. There are two important things to remember here!

1. The cell being filled is always the active cell. So “Up” doesn’t take the value of the active cell and move it up one cell like you might assume, it takes the value of the cell below the active cell and moves it up into the active cell.

2. Formulas are relative. “Fill” won’t copy the same values, it will copy the relative position of the values in the formula. So if you’re moving the formula one cell up, the values in the formula will also move one cell up.

Time for Spring Cleaning

Unless it’s not spring, then it’s time for Summer, Fall, or Winter cleaning. Beneath the Fill button is the Clear button. Pressing Delete or Backspace on a cell deletes the contents of the cell. Pressing those buttons on an active cell deletes the contents one character at a time but neither deletes anything else.

man fixing and sealing his garbage in a garbage bag

Image via Max Pixel

“Clear” brings up a drop-down menu where you can also delete things like formatting, comments, hyperlinks, or everything at once.

clear dropdown menu showing options to delete formatting, comments and the like

I Need to Get Organize

Next to “Fill” is “Sort & Filter” and you better be ready for another drop-down menu. By now you should know that drop-down menus are the life blood of the Excel basics.

sort and filter dropdown menu

“Sort A to Z” or “Sort Smallest to Largest” will sort a selection of cells in alphabetical order if they’re words or numerical order if they’re numbers. “Sort Z to A” or “Sort Largest to Smallest” does the same thing in reverse. If you want to go wild, you can create a custom sort by clicking the “Custom Sort” option.

Below that is the “Filter” button. Click on this and arrows will appear on top of all your columns. This gives you access those same sorting options above but also includes the secret number filters. These are the more advanced methods of sorting that only apply to numbers.

text filter dropdown menu

Finally, we have the Private Detective’s favorite button “Find & Select,” represented by a magnifying glass. In this drop-down menu you can find specific values, replace them with other values, or go to a specific cell by typing in its coordinates.

One Last Thing …

I hope you’ve enjoyed your time with the Ribbon because it’s the biggest part of learning the Excel basics. Before we say goodbye to the Ribbon, we must learn to … say goodbye to the Ribbon. Clicking the small arrow on the bottom left of the Ribbon will collapse it. If you do this on accident, don’t panic! You can bring the Ribbon back by clicking the box in between the minimize button and “Sign in” on the top bar of your window.

Do All This But Faster!

Now that you know the Excel basics, it’s time to learn the keyboard shortcuts so you can do them in a flash. Here’s your last chart

gear ison

Image via Flaticon

General

  1. – Ctrl + N: New workbook
  2. – Ctrl + O: Open workbook
  3. – Ctrl + S: Save workbook
  4. – Ctrl + P: Print
  5. – Ctrl + W: Close workbook
  6. – Alt + F4: Close Excel (⌘ + Q on a Mac)
  7. – Ctrl + A: Select all cells

test results icon

Image via Flaticon

Editing

  1. – Ctrl + Z: Undo previous action
  2. – Ctrl + Y: Redo previous action
  3. – Ctrl + C: Copy selected cells
  4. – Ctrl + X: Cut selected cells
  5. – Ctrl + V: Paste from clipboard

spreadsheet icon

Image via Flaticon

Tables

  1. – Ctrl + T: insert table (^ + T on a Mac)
  2. – Alt + ↓ : Activate filter (⌥ + ↓ on a Mac)
  3. – Shift + Space: Select table row
  4. – Ctrl + Space: Select table column (^ + Space on a Mac)
  5. – Ctrl + A: select table

Mac users note that unless stated otherwise, substitute the Ctrl key for the Command key in your shortcuts.

Now Go Out There and Make Spreadsheets!

With these Excel basics under your belt, you can wield worksheets like a champion!

laptop with karate uniform and belts on the side on top of the table

Image via Pixabay

If you want to learn more than just the Excel basics, you can go straight to the source. The Microsoft website has articles and tutorials for everything and anything you can do in Excel.

How to Delete Duplicates in Excel

How to Delete Duplicates in Excel: An Easy Guide

How to Delete Duplicates in Excel

One of the main functions of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is that it organizes any data set into manageable rows and columns which can be easily viewed, searched, and arranged. Here we will show you how to delete duplicates in excel the easy way.

Because of the way Excel organizes this data, it should be easy to manipulate, whether this means changing your ordering principles (alphabetical, according to date, according to amount), searching for particular entries, and adding or deleting information.

This tutorial will focus on how to identify and delete duplicate entries which might exist within an Excel spreadsheet that you’ve created.

Reasons For Deleting Duplicates

Anyone familiar with Microsoft Excel knows that there are a number of reasons you might want to search for and delete duplicates. Perhaps you’ve accidentally copied a row when working within an Excel spreadsheet. It’s also possible that you or someone else may have accidentally entered the same information twice on the same spreadsheet.

In any case, where you suspect there may be duplicate information, there is a better option than searching through the entire document using only your eyes and trusting you’ll find your duplicates. Microsoft Excel has made it easy to press a series of buttons which will tell the program to automatically search for, identify, and delete any duplicates you may have added by mistake.

In this tutorial, we’ll cover:

  • How to check for duplicates
  • How to automatically delete duplicates
  • Advanced filtering
  • An alternate method for older versions of Excel

Checking for Duplicates

check duplicates how to delete duplicates in excel

The first step to deleting duplicates is to identify them. Microsoft Excel can do this relatively easily. To identify duplicates, follow the steps listed below:

  1. Once you’re in the folder which contains your file, double-click on your Excel document file. If you’re looking for a document you’ve used recently, you can also open the document from the “Recent” section of the Open tab.
  2. Once your file is open, select the range of cells you wish to test for duplicates. You can do this easily by clicking on any cell and then pressing Ctrl-A (Select All).
  3. Once you’ve selected the range, click on the Home tab. Within the Home tab, select Conditional Formatting. Once you’ve done this, highlight Cells Rules, and then within that, select Duplicate Values.
  4. Once you’ve selected Duplicate Values, a dialog box should open in the middle of your screen. Within this dialog box, click OK. This box will also inform you as to what color the program will use to identify your duplicate values (eg. Light red fill with dark red text).
  5. The duplicate values within your list should now be identified in the color stated.

How to Delete Duplicates in Excel

data tools how to delete duplicates in excel

  1. Open your Excel document file by double-clicking on the file name. Alternately, if you’ve used the document recently, you can open an existing document from the “Recent” section of the Open tab.
  2. Once your file is open, select the range that you want to delete duplicates from. You can do this by clicking the entry that is in the top left corner of your chosen range. Once you’ve clicked on this, hold down the up arrow and Shift button. While you’re holding these buttons, click on the entry that is in the bottom right corner of your chosen range.
  3. Your chosen range should now be highlighted.
  4. Click the Data tab, which is a tab on the left side of the green toolbar at the top of the Excel window.
  5. Within the Data tab, choose Data Tools, and then Remove Duplicates. Once you’ve chosen Remove Duplicates, a dialog box will appear.
  6. Within this dialog box, leave all check-boxes checked and click OK. If you do not want to remove duplicates from all of your columns, deselect the columns you’d like to the program to leave alone before clicking OK.
  7. All of your duplicates should now be deleted from your table.

Note: The Remove Duplicates function will remove every instance of the information starting with the 2nd. Excel will automatically remove all identical rows (blue) except for the first identical row found (in yellow).

Another Option: Advanced Filtering

sort filter how to delete duplicates in excel

Another option for filtering out duplicates in Microsoft Excel is using the Advanced Filter option.

  1. Once again, you’ll begin this process by opening your Excel file.
  2. 2. Once the file has been opened, you can select all of the cells in the table by pressing Ctrl + A (Select All).
  3. Once your entire table has been selected, click the Data tab.
  4. From the Data tab, choose Sort and Filter, then click on the Advanced button.
  5. Once you’ve entered the Advanced Filter dialog box, check the box that says “Unique Records Only.”
  6. Once you’ve clicked “OK,” all duplicates except for the original should have been removed.

Deleting Duplicates in Microsoft Excel 2003 or earlier


If you’re using a version of Microsoft Excel from 2003 or earlier, the method for deleting duplicates will be a little different than those we’ve mentioned above.

  1. Click on cell A1, selecting it.
  2. Choose Data, Filter, and then AutoFilter.
  3. Click the Filter arrow in cell C1 and then choose Custom.
  4. Where it says Equals, change this to Greater Than. Enter 1 and then click OK.
  5. Once the duplicate values have been identified, you can delete them individually.
  6. Once a duplicate value has been deleted, its partner value will lose its highlight.

Conclusion

Microsoft Excel is an incredibly useful tool for anyone who has a set of data which needs to be organized. Once you’ve input your data into your Excel spreadsheet, you’ll want to check it for errors. One of the most common errors will be duplicate values that have been entered.

If you’ve followed our instructions, duplicate errors should be easy to identify and delete, regardless of which version of Microsoft Excel you’re using.

Excel SUM Formula: What Is It And When Do I Use It?

If you have a large database of information, it can be difficult to make sense of all those names numbers. The Excel SUM formula lets you focus on specific categories within an Excel worksheet and come up with subtotals that can help you to spot trends and patterns in your data.

Read on to find out more about:

  • How the SUM function works
  • Using the Excel SUM function
  • Different applications for SUM formulas

About the SUM Function

The SUM function is one of the simplest functions in Excel, but it’s also one of the most useful. It’s one of several math and trig functions available and allows you to add up multiple values. You can add up individual numbers, cell references, ranges of cells, or mix these values together. You can also use the SUM function as part of a more complicated order of operations to manipulate values. For example:

  • Addition: =SUM(A1:A10)+B1
  • Subtraction: =SUM(A1:A10)-B1
  • Multiplication: =SUM(A1:A10)*B1
  • Division: =SUM(A1:A10)/B1
  • Exponentiation: =SUM(A1:A10)^B1

How to Use the SUM Function

The Excel SUM formula is easy to use and easy to remember, even for complete beginners. The basic syntax of the function goes as follows:

=SUM(number1,[number2],…)

You only need to input a single range or value into the brackets, but if needed, you can include as many as 255 numbers. The parameters you’ll be using include:

  • number1: This value is required for the function to work properly. You can use a number such as 4, a cell reference such as A4, or a cell range like A1:A4.
  • number2-255: While you don’t have to input this value, if necessary, you can add hundreds of secondary numbers to your formula.

The SUM formula is a worksheet function, meaning that to use it, you simply type the appropriate syntax into a free cell to find out your end result. You can also use it in tables to total up rows and columns.

If you don’t want to display totals on your worksheet, you can find out the sum of a group of cells using the Excel status bar. Simply click and select the range, then look at the sum total listed in the lower right-hand side of the window.

Using SUM With Other Excel Functions

Excel has some built-in formulas that combine the SUM function with other useful tools. For example, combining SUM with the IF formula creates the SUMIF function, which allows you not only to add up data points, but also to choose these points based on criteria such as date, numeric value, text descriptors, and more.

You can also create your own formulas that combine the SUM function with other actions. Combining the operations of two or more functions is commonly known as “nesting functions.” There are endless ways that you can nest SUM with different Excel formulas. For example, you can combine SUM with the ROUND function to round decimals and fractions before adding them up, which can be handy come tax season.

Combining SUM with the VLOOKUP allows you to locate and sum values with that meet one or several criteria. No matter what the application, you can find a way to nest SUM with other Excel functions to get the results that you need.

Using Excel SUM Formula Across Multiple Worksheets

When using the SUM function, you might not always be dealing with values on a single spreadsheet. For example, if your company uses a different worksheet for each month or quarter, you may need to total data across several separate datasets. Instead of manually adding each relevant cell, it’s much easier to use a 3-Dimensional (or 3D) SUM.

The syntax to add a cell value from different sheets reads:

=SUM(SheetX:SheetY!cell#)

Common Problems With Using Excel SUM Formula

Although the Excel SUM formula is relatively straightforward, every now and then even the most tech-savvy of us run into issues. Here are some common problems you may run into when using SUM functions, and quick fixes to help save you a headache:

The result is displayed as ####: Often, this reading simply means that your column is too narrow to display the full result. Increase the width of your column to prevent this problem.

The formula won’t change to a result: The cell containing your SUM function may be formatted as a text cell, preventing the formula from working. Hit Ctrl+1 to bring up the Format Cells dialog, then click the Number tab to select the right format. You can also use F2 > Enter.

The function won’t update automatically: Open the Formula tab and go to Calculation to check that it’s set to automatic. You can also use the F9 key.

The #NAME? error appears: This usually means that a formula’s syntax is incorrect. Check to make sure that everything is spelled correctly and in the right order.

Examples of SUM Formulas

As an Excel user, you’re bound to run across the SUM function in various ways, shapes, and forms. Here are some of the more common formulas that utilize this tool:

When inputting individual cells or values:

=SUM(A1,A3,B2,C3…)

When inputting a range of values:

=SUM(A1:A3,B1:B3)

Sum an entire column:

=SUM(A:A)

Sum every nth row:

=SUM(OFFSET(A1,(ROW()-offset)*n,0,n,1))

Calculating a running total:

=SUM($A$1:A1)

Conclusion

excel shortcuts

The SUM function is a must-know tool for all Excel users, whether you’re just starting out or working with Microsoft on a professional level. The Excel SUM formula can help you to add points from complex sets of data and gain valuable insights that will help you or your company to make more well-informed decisions in the future.

We hope that our comprehensive guide has helped you to better understand the many uses of the SUM formula and hone your skills so that you can take full advantage of this invaluable tool.

average function in excel

How to Use the Average Function in Excel

Excel makes it easy to figure out the average of a group of numbers, no matter how large or small. It makes it easier for you to analyze important data. You will learn how to use Excel’s “average” function right here.

Most of us are familiar with average values. They offer a great way, to sum up information in a single number. Which gives us an immediate picture of any dataset.

If you have a large set of data, Excel can help you to find statistical values such as the average.

Not only can this help to enhance your understanding of a dataset, but it can also make information easier to present to supervisors, investors, and even loved ones. Using the AVERAGE function in Excel is easy and takes just a few clicks of the button.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you:

  • How to Use Average Values
  • Calculating Averages in Excel
  • Common Examples of the AVERAGE function

Using the average function in excel

What is an Average Function in Excel?

The average of a group of numbers describes the central value of the set.

The first thing to remembers is that using averages can help us to draw generalizations from sets of data.

There are three different ways that are commonly used to measure central tendency:

  • First is the Average: You can calculate the mean of a group of numbers by adding each value together and then dividing by the total count of those numbers. For example, in the group 2,3,5,5,5, the average is (2+3+5+5+5)/5=4. The average of a group of numbers is highly susceptible to outliers.
  • Second is the Median: The median is the number that lies directly in the middle of a set of numbers. For example, in the group 2,3,5,5,5, the median is 5.
  • The third is the Mode: The mode is the number that occurs most frequently in a set of numbers. In the example group of 2,3,5,5,5, the number 5 appears three times, making it the mode.

When Do Averages Come in Handy?

Averages aren’t just a part of your grade school math curriculum.

There are plenty of applications for averages in the real world, both at home and in the office. Notably, you can use averages to draw conclusions about your budget, your grades, yearly earnings, and even your car’s gas mileage too.

With this in mind, there are countless ways that averages can come in handy. However, you may want to look at different values depending on your situation.

The mean is best used with datasets that contain information that’s evenly spread, such as bell curves.

Extreme outliers in either direction can skew results and lead to false conclusions about central values in a dataset. It is important to realize that when outliers are in play, you should stick to using the median to represent the central value.

The mode works well for smaller sample sets. That is where there’s not enough data to draw relevant conclusions by calculating the mean or median.

The Basics of Excel’s Average Function

The AVERAGE function in Excel returns the mean number for any data set as opposed to the median or mode. In addition, it can be used as a worksheet function, making it easy to enter as part of a formula in a cell.

Your average will depend on the cells that you highlight. For this reason, it may be best to omit any statistically insignificant outliers. A value that’s too high or not high enough can skew your results, giving you an inaccurate picture of your dataset as a result.

Using the Average Function in Excel

Using the AVERAGE function is simple enough for even Excel novices to master in a matter of minutes. As a worksheet function, all you need to do is enter the formula correctly into a free cell to get a mean value.

The syntax you should use to find the arithmetic mean of a data set is:

AVERAGE (number1,[number2], …)

There are very few components that you’re required to input into this formula. There’s only one parameter that you really need to fill out in order to yield an accurate result.

  • Number1: This field is required. You can put in a cell value or a range of cells for which you want the average.
  • Number2: This field is optional. If you want to analyze additional cells or ranges, you can add up to 255 more to the AVERAGE formula.

If any of the cells in the range you highlighted contain text, logical values, or are simply empty, the AVERAGE formula will ignore these. Cells that contain a zero, however, are included. If you want to omit any cells within a row or column, you should leave them blank.

If the AVERAGE function isn’t coming up with the results that you’re looking for, then you may want to consider modifying the formula slightly.

The AVERAGEA and AVERAGEIF Function

The AVERAGEA function allows you to include logical values and text representations of numbers in a reference as part of your end result. This also gives you more control over formatting.

Moreover, you can also combine the AVERAGE function with the IF function to limit the range of values used to calculate a result.

Excel’s IF function allows you to see whether a data point meets a condition that you specify. For example, being greater than another number or occurring within a given timeframe.

The AVERAGEIF function gives you the power to calculate a mean using only values that meet certain criteria.

The Average Function in Action

Here are some examples of common formulas used to find the average of various sets of data:

  1. Single column – Average the last few values in a single column: =AVERAGE(OFFSET(A1,COUNT(A:A),0,-N))
  2. Different columns – Average the last few values in different columns: =AVERAGE(OFFSET(firstcell,0,COUNT(rng)-N,1,N))
  3. A range of numbers – Average the last few values in a range of numbers:

{=AVERAGE(LOOKUP(LARGE(IF(ISNUMBER(data),ROW(data)),{1,2,3…}),ROW(data), data))}

Average the top scores in a data set: =AVERAGE(LARGE(range,{1,2,3…}))

Conclusion

Ultimately, average values are an important part of everyday life. It helps us to quickly and easily understand even large datasets by giving us the central value of a group of numbers. Excel makes it easy to calculate mean values using the AVERAGE function.

Finally, we hope that this tutorial has helped you to better understand how to use the AVERAGE function in Excel.

Indeed the average function in Excel is such a powerful tool when it comes to analyzing data.

Do you need help in freezing columns in Excel? Here is a tutorial on how to do that.

Photo of spreadsheet on laptop with column selected for "how to move columns in Excel" article.

How to Move Columns in Excel While Keeping Your Data Intact

How to move columns in Excel

Ready to hone your skills in working with Excel spreadsheets for a more organized workflow? Start with learning how to move columns in Excel. This especially helps with columns containing large swaths of data.

Columns, rows, and cells are perhaps the three most recognizable features of Excel. They provide the window in which to view, calculate, and organize your information. Further, they make moving your info around very easy. We will show you two ways to work with columns in your Excel spreadsheet. You’ll also learn how you can move columns in Excel without losing large swaths of data.

How to Move Columns in Excel: The Cut or Copy Method

How to move columns in excel

Understanding how to move columns in Excel with this method is very easy. Cut or copy is arguably the most widely used editing function across all platforms. Within Excel, it is particularly useful.

To move a single column of data, click the header of the target column.

  1. With your mouse hovering over the selected column, right-click and select either Cut or Copy from the menu.
  2. The keyboard shortcut for highlighting an entire column is Control Spacebar. For the move functions, you can use shortcut Control X for cut and Control C for copy.
  3. Be mindful of the difference between Cut and Copy. When you cut a selection, you are removing it from its original location and placing in another part of your spreadsheet or workbook.
  4. Copying a selection of information creates a duplicate of that data for you to place elsewhere.
  5. When you are ready to place your column, select the heading of the column to the right of where you want it to go.

If you cut column D and want it inserted after column A, then you would select column B, right-click and choose Insert Cut Cells from the pop-up.

Note that the insert function will shift your data to the right to make room for the new column.

You can also use the paste function to place your column in its new location. But doing so will replace the old data with the new.

How to Move Columns in Excel: Replace Data in One Column with Data from Another

Going back to our previous example, here’s how to move columns in Excel when replacing data in one column with data from another.

  1. Select column B, right-click and choose Paste from the pop-up.
  2. Cut, copy, insert and paste can all be used with a single column or a range of columns depending on your needs.
  3. If trying to move multiple columns, i.e., Column A and Column D, this will only work with the copy function. The cut function is unable to perform this task.
  4. You can also select columns within your spreadsheet and move those as necessary without needing to select the column headers. Be mindful that this will alter your sheet in a specific area as opposed to the top to bottom change that occurs in the above examples.

How to Move Columns in Excel: Drag and Drop

Another efficient method to use when you need to move columns in Excel is to drag and drop. This is relatively easy to complete although it may take a couple of attempts before you can do it efficiently.

  1. First, highlight the column you are moving. You can also perform this task using just a section of data.
  2. Along either edge of the highlighted column, hover your mouse until the cursor changes to four small arrows and click and hold the mouse button.
  3. Note that depending on your version of Excel and if you are using a Mac, the four arrows may alternatively be a small hand symbol.
  4. Hold down the Shift button and then pull the column towards its intended destination. A thin line will appear to help guide you before placing the column.
  5. Once you reach the end location, just let go of the mouse button first and then the shift key. The column will drop into place.

The shift key is vital in drag and drop as it directs Excel to insert the columns. If you perform the same steps above without the shift key, the column you are moving will replace the info in the destination column.

Excel will prompt you with a warning message before you complete the drop.

What Happens When You Move Columns in Excel

With both techniques above, when you move a column, you also move all of the data within each cell of the column.

Formats, formulas, and values all maintain their original integrity regardless of which procedure you use.

Additionally, although we focused on columns, these instructions will also work when you need to move rows within your Excel spreadsheet.

Are There Other Ways How to Move Columns in Excel?

There are a few other ways to move columns in Excel, but they typically require the use of a plug-in or creating a Macro. This is doable, but requires more advanced knowledge, so you should proceed with columns.

Plug-ins can create more headaches by adding unnecessary toolbars and duplicate functions to an already robust program. Macros may be potentially useful in some circumstances. But these tend to be highly specific and are usually best used by those with an in-depth knowledge of Excel.

Troubleshooting on How to Move Columns in Excel

There are very few issues you can run into when moving columns, with the main one being choosing Copy instead of Cut as your initial move method.

Thankfully, Excel will prompt you before any data is changed with the following pop-up:

Do you want to replace the contents of the selected cells?

This is a common message when pasting information, so it comes in handy should you use the drag and drop method without holding the shift key.

With the drag and drop option, it is essential to be careful when selecting either edge of the column you want to move.

If you see a clear, block plus sign instead of the four-arrow cursor, the highlight cursor is active. A black, block plus sign means the single cell drag and drop tool is active. When these tools are active, they can create some issues that could require correction of your data.

Conclusion

There are a lot of helpful tools when working in Excel. The ability to move columns is undoubtedly one of them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a full data set from top to bottom or a simple ten-row column. Excel makes it a cinch to get your info where it needs to be.

The 24-Hour Rule

A long time ago I was doing some reading on how you write and publish blog posts. One suggestion that helps me is the 24-hour rule. And that is to finish your post and then wait 24 hours before reading it one-last-time. After all, a blog post is going to be public, out there on the internet with your name on it, for a very long time.

The problem with this 24-hour rule is that I usually find one or more things that need to be changed. And then I have to wait another 24-hours.

When you are on a deadline, like, for instance, having a self-imposed quota of 2 or 3 blog posts a week, the 24-hour rule is inconvenient. It drives you to compromise on the level of quality.

By that I mean that there is a hierarchy of quality levels starting with spelling and grammar and ending with saying what you intended in the most concise, articulate manner possible. A deadline drives you to ensure the spelling and grammar are correct and then you compromise on just how well you get your point across.

Tech Man

For me the deadline and quality levels force a certain tension, all of which drove me to abandon my blogging of all things Excel. Yet since a deadline and quality levels are self-imposed, they are also controllable.

I’ve decided to stick with the 24-hour rule and forget about the deadline, or any deadline for that matter. Consequently my blogging will continue, at my own pace.

Right now I’m working on a post about the Excel iPad app.

So the 24-hour rule stays and the journey continues.



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