This Blog contains an ever growing set of detailed pages on How to … do things and pages of simple but very useful Tips.

6th December 2017: STOP USING EXCEL … boring, heard it all before! What was it you were trying to sell me? Tatsuo Horiuchi Excel artist. Two cracking discussions in one short page. Excel Tips … Other menu!

21st October 2017: There is a simple page, BP Graphs, in the charting tips menu that asks you to express a preference for one kind of graph over another and for you to suggest how I created those graphs! Take a look!

14th October 2017: I have updated the DGET page following a couple of emails trying to tell me how good it is to use INDEX-MATCH …

6th October 2017: A video … with music … Contingency Tables in Excel. Excel file to come in a week or so. Anyway, take a look here Menu: Excel tips … other tips …

18th September 2017: I got involved in writing several articles on http://www.quora.com over the weekend and here they are: Pie Chart sorted: Excel Tips, Charting Tips menu), log linear regression analysis (Excel How to, Excel Functions menu) and AVERAGEIF question that became a Get & Transform (Power Query) question (Excel How to, Excel Functions menu).

28th August 2017: I have always called in Power Query up to now but it’s really called Get & Transform now. Take a look at this fantastic page I have just created in which I show you how to take a list with 39,000 rows that need to be split out column by column without using any VLOOKUP or INDEX and MATCH … purely using Get & Transform. Menu Excel How to …

18th August 2017: unlinking two or more Pivot Tables from the same cache. This page shows you how to use one database as the source of two or more pivot tables from which you then create two or more pivot charts. Not intuitive and I show you two methods and mention two more. How to menu, Pivot Tables …

9th August 2017: Here’s a very simple task but it is worth a fortune to the delegate I used it with! In my course in Riyadh this week I had a delegate who had an apparently very simple problem. Smart man but he just couldn’t find the answer. Look at my TEXTJOIN page to see the problem and my solution. You’re welcome!

24th June 2017: Danielle Stein Fairhurst published an interesting list of favourite Excel functions as nominated by 20 Excel MVPs. This page shows you what I had to do to get this list into Excel, to separate out and count all unique instances of the functions listed and then how I used Pivot Tables to finalise my work. Pivot Tables How to Menu. You can download my Excel file, too.

15th June 2017: how about the English Premier League Fixture List for 2017 – 2018 that uses an Excel Table, Power Query, Pivot Table and Slicers and yet is very easy to use? Here it is: Pivot Tables How to … menu.

13th June 2017: Video Time. Every now and again I make a video and today is a day like that. Go to this page, Video Time!, to see a sort of a dashboard by video I have created using data from opinion polls in the days leading up to last week’s ridiculus British general election. The video is there and the spreadsheet can be downloaded.

3rd June 2014: 1 Next week I am presenting a two day course on Financial Modelling and Business Intelligence in Singapore. Whilst it’s not too late to sign up, look here for one of the cases I will be including. There are no solutions presented here except what you see in the case itself: if you want my solution, either come on the course or send me your honest attempt at using Power Query, Power Pivot as well as Power BI for Desktop and we can talk. Talk to me initially by commenting on the page.

2 YDAYDG …You don’t ask, you don’t get. I don’t program in VBA to any significant extent but I do include it in my courses from time to time. Following a a query from a previous delegate, I have put together a free pack on starting Macro/VBA programming and it’s yours … but YDAYDG … call me! Talk to me initially by commenting on the page.

3 Benford’s Law Update I have updated my 2013 page on the Sunday Times Rich List analysed according to Benford’s Law. Again, not what we should expect but what to make of it? Not at all sure. Here is the link

14th May 2017: POWER QUERY example … you don’t have to be rich to use some rich features in Excel! The UK’s Sunday Times published its 2017 Rich List last week and I have used Power Query to take the basic data that comes with the list, included the sub categories, put all of that into an Append query and then started to analyse everything using Pivot Tables. There is no page for this because I am under pressure from work at the moment. That means, if you know Power Query already, you can take the files and see my query and add to them, change them and so on. If you don’t know Power Query yet, you can take the files as a working example of something very useful that you can learn to use over time. Since I am having a membership clearout, you need to ask for the two files you need for this exercise but do please note I can’t offer any support on the files for a couple of weeks or so. Send me an email to duncanwil … at … gmail … com and I will send the two files you need within 24 hours or so. In your email you need to include a subject or message that tells me what you want! I have had completely blank messages in the past that I just delete because I am not psychic!!!

7th May 2017: FIVE ways to create a histogram: from the highly specific to the rough and ready. There are six methods, by the way, but number six is left out! Excel Tips … Charting menu or click here to go straight there.

21st April 2017: My Excel Solutions for Accountants books: I have just completed some updating work on this three volume set and this is what my readers have said about them:

  • Absolute solution to Accountants who have not used the excel experience in doing calculation and graphs on financial data analysis
  • The book is really fantastic, a must read for professional accountants.

The books are available from my page here: www.bookboon.com

21st April 2017: A page on Data Analysis. I have taken data on the human body among other things and analysed them as worked examples. There are four cases to study and few all of them you get the data only excel file, the fully worked Excel file and a PDF with my notes and explanations. There is a further six cases that I have worked through and that you will find in both Excel files but there is no analysis in the PDF file: these are for you to complete. I have put this in the Excel How to… Other … Functions menu but you can go straight to it from here.

6th April 2017: A really useful insight this time: Pivot Charts from Power Pivot even Without Pivot Tables. Take a look at this page and download the PDF file that comes with it. Sorry but I cannot share my Excel file with this one. Excel How to … BI sub menu.

3rd April 2017: This is something new, using Microsoft Sway to format a file for me. I know what it looks like in the software itself but what happens when you go here … EPL Analysis and click the Sway page link … at this stage I don’t know. My analysis is good so let’s see what Sway an do! This page is in the How to … menus too!

2nd April 2017: Rice … some very interesting and useful data gets the Power Query Unpivoting treatment. I have discussed upivoting data before but here is a very practical example that uses international data on rice. You can go straight to the page I have created or go to the Excel How to … BI sub menu and look for Unpivoted rice

If you’d like my help and guidance on something, just ask and I’ll do what I can.

Duncan Williamson

Introduction for Absolute Beginners: Introduction to Excel for Absolute Beginners
Excel Files for Practice:
The basics of spreadsheeting 1
The basics of spreadsheeting 2
The basics of spreadsheeting 3
The basics of spreadsheeting 4

Tuesday 25th October

This is on its way … as promised … I will upload it later today or early tomorrow.

Duncan Williamson

Someone asked this question in Quora and here is my answer which I think many of you will find useful:

If you use Excel on a Mac the chances are that you are not running Excel 2016 for the Mac and that your Mac does not have the ToolPak at all … I know, older versions have it and I know you can get alternatives!

In that case, I often demonstrate to Mac users how to create and automate the functions in the ToolPak: correlation matrix, regression analysis, moving averages, descriptive statistics … the others as well!

Descriptive statistics, for example, could be, for data in column A:

=AVERAGE(A:A)

=STDEV(A:A)

=KURT(A:A) …

=SKEW(A:A)

and so on.

Other answers have mentioned statistics software packages and that’s fine except they might not be free! Yes, if you are a student, your college or university is likely to have statistics software free for you to use.

How about R and R Studio, however? Open source, free, with massive amounts of support? Of course, it takes time to learn R but here is the code for some descriptive statistics using the psych package in R:

describe(order_sales_profit$Sales)

That’s it! This is what I get from my current data set, sales values: not exactly the same as the ToolPak but my point is, it is very easy to replicate. Look at the screenshot of the output from R.

main-qimg-897d5be6ae0d3e466b4ee0095f16d1ab-c?convert_to_webp=true

By the way, as a novice or beginner level user of Excel, there is a lot to learn from manually automating what’s in the ToolPak. Moreover, if you take my next learning point, use this opportunity to set up templates for you to analyse your data sets: that means, you automate the ToolPak elements once and that is it!

Finally, many elements of the ToolPak return non volatile results which means that if you change your data, you have to run the ToolPak again. If you automate it yourself, the formulas you create will all be volatile: change the data, change the answers!

Duncan Williamson

I hope you can see this photo.

DW

19th August 2016

I have just completed another very successful Financial Modelling course and as you know, at the end of such courses, I come here and offer something new: a new topic, a new file or some advice. In this case, it is advice: things that you really need to think about when you create and work on any Excel file.

  • Tab/Sheet Names
  • Links
  • Dead Cells 125,433 rows created but only 831 needed/active … files that balloon to many Mb for no real reason

Ever seen a tab name like this: FBU or OPT? I bet you have: short and sweet and probably mnemonic so easy to read and remember. How about L_P_Obasange_receivables_dont_forget_to PRINT_it_out? You think I am joking? I am serious! Just imagine you are working on your file with the large tab name and you want to link to a cell on that tab from another one: this is what will appear in your formula, by way of an example … =IFERROR(AND(A15=45,D26=”Jack”,L_P_Obasange_receivables_dont_forget_to PRINT_it_out!BA154 …

I am sure you see the point now. Keep tab names short and simple! More than that, if you do feel the need to use tabs to give instructions, colour code them to pass such messages: there are many colours to choose from so do that. Have a table of contents too. Give everyone a chance for a simple life!

Links

If you share a file with someone, make sure any links in your file are either live or delete them. If you receive a file with links that you cannot use or update, you know how frustrating it is. Think of the user before you send linked files.

Dead Cells

It is the easiest thing in the world to create a worksheet and as you work and improve what you are doing, to delete cells and ranges. We all do that. We create new ranges too, don’t we! Check your work now and again though and if these happen, take a break and check your file:

  • it takes 30 seconds 45 seconds or even longer for the file to open
  • what seems like a small file in terms of content and complexity has ballooned in size to 20 or 30 or more Mb
  • saving the file takes an age too

If these things happen, go to a worksheet and press Ctrl+End and see where that takes you. You work only in the range A1: CD831 but Ctrl+End has taken you to CG125433 … what? How did that happen?

Even if there are not as many as an additional 1.8 million cells but just 500,000, look in those cells for formulas  that are trying to find something from somewhere that is not there … in some of these extra cells for example. Delete all of these extra cells. I did that this week: an extra 1.8 million cells in TWO separate worksheets complete with formulas. File size down from 28 Mb to 0.8 Mb, opening time just seconds, recalculation time hardy noticeable.

They were just some of things to report on from this week. Otherwise, this group of delegates really enjoyed the work and their end of course presentations were interesting and showed that significant learning had taken place!

Duncan Williamson

 

Are you interested in using BI? Do you already use it?

Did you know that BI is free to create?

I will be adding some BI resources here this week … but there are already some here! Take a look at Power Query and Power Pivot for a start.

Back soon and if there’s something you want me to write about, let me know.

Duncan Williamson

A delegate asked me today if there was such a function as SUMDIVIDE. There isn’t of course, but I found a way to simulate it.

What would SUMDIVIDE do? SUMDIVIDE would have array 1 divided by array 2 and the results then added together: in the same way that SUMPRODUCT multiplies and then adds.

This is how it works: imagine A1:A5 contains array 1 and B1:B5 contains array 2 then the SUMPRODUCT function to divide them will be =SUMPRODUCT(A1:A5,1/B1:B5). Simple, eh? Who’d have thought it would be so simple.

Duncan Williamson

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