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8 Microsoft Excel Tricks That Will Impress Your Boss

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Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
September 02, 2016 · 2.7k Views

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If you work in a marketing or data entry job, you likely use Microsoft Excel extensively. Excel is a versatile program that offers a lot of functionality. You can use it to enter data, create mailing lists and make charts and graphs. It’s also great for budgeting and bill paying, as you can enter monthly expenses and easily calculate how much you’re spending.

If your boss is like most others, he or she is very demanding. He may want you to create a 100-column spreadsheet by the end of the day, or she may need a complex pie chart for a meeting in 15 minutes. These may seem like impossible tasks, but the good thing about Excel is that it offers a lot of shortcuts and neat functions so that you can input data and create charts quickly and easily.

Looking for a few cool tricks to impress your boss the next time he calls you in to do an urgent Excel project? The tricks below will ensure the data in your chart is accurate to avoid any costly screw-ups. You’ll also save a ton of time – perhaps even a few hours. You might even be able to leave the office on time.

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1. Use shortcuts.

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Chances are, those spreadsheets are taking you longer than they should be. Don’t be afraid to utilize these time-saving shortcuts.

  • Shift. The Shift key is your friend. It allows you to copy and paste ranges of cells quickly. By holding down Shift and using the arrow keys, you can highlight cells. Use the Shift key in conjunction with the Ctrl key to highlight columns of data in one fell swoop. Just press the down arrow to select the current row and then press the right arrow until you have selected the rows you want.
  • Shift + F10. Again, the Shift key is the “key” to this shortcut. Hold it down with the F10 key and you’ll open the right-click menu. This can be a lifesaver if you’re engrossed in keyboard work and don’t want to ruin your train of thought by having to pick up a mouse.
  • F4. Want to repeat the last task easily without having to hit multiple keys? Just hit F4 and it’ll repeat the last task you did. This works especially well for inserting or deleting rows or columns. Rather than right-clicking and selecting Insert, you can just tap F4 to your heart’s content.
  • Ctrl + Arrow down. This is an easy way to get to the end of your data. This is useful if you have so many columns and rows that they seem to go on forever.


2. Know how to add up data rows or columns quickly.  

Don’t bust out the calculator! Instead, find the cell where want to put the sum. For example, if you want to add up the data in cells A1 through A20, in A21, type in the formula “=SUM(A1:A20)” and you’ll have your sum.


3. Use PivotTables for quick data summary.

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If you have a large amount of data, you can generate a table without entering a formula. Click inside your data and go to Insert, then select PivotTable. Highlight all the data, then click OK. Use the bar on the right hand side of the screen to customize your table.


4. Freeze panes for easy data analysis.

There may be times when you want to scroll through a spreadsheet, but want to have a couple rows or columns handy so you can analyze them or be able to review them. You can do this by freezing the panes. Just go to the View tab to select Freeze Panes.


5. Highlight important values.

When you create spreadsheets for your boss, he or she is likely looking for abnormal data. Help make this easier by using conditional formatting to highlight specific values. Select your data, then go to Home and select Conditional Formatting. Choose a format. For example, you may want to highlight negative percentages or values under 10. Choose how the values will be highlighted and click OK.

  • Use Autofill to your advantage.

    Source: pivotexcel.com
    Autofill can save you a lot of time you have a pattern that you need to repeat for multiple rows or columns. For example, you might need to enter 1-100. Instead of entering 100 numbers one by one, start by entering 1 in the first row, 2 in second row, and 3 in the third row. Highlight all three cells and move the cursor to the bottom right corner of the third cell. You’ll see a + sign. Click and hold the mouse until you get to the cell where you want the sequence to end.
  • Use Flash Fill to help with formatting.

    Source: pivotexcel.com
    Sometimes you’re given unformatted data and you have to quickly reformat it. You can use the Flash Fill function to make this task much less mundane. Keep the original, unformatted text in one column. Next to that column, fix the data and type how it should work. Select that cell and the ones below it, then click Ctrl + E to “flash” those cells and they’ll instantly display the correct data. This works great for mailing lists.
  • Predict the future.

    Source: teachucomp.com
    The forecasting feature in Excel 2016 allows you to predict future outcomes based on current and past data. Select two sheets of data and go to Data, then Forecast, then select Forecast Sheet. Choose from either a column or line chart, choose an end date and click Create.


By using these handy tricks, you’ll become an instant Excel whiz. You’ll be able to tackle spreadsheets with use and create even the most complex ones from scratch. The next time your boss asks for an urgent Excel project, you can blow his socks off by presenting him with a highly organized, accurate spreadsheet in no time flat. If that doesn’t impress him, nothing will. But at least you can use your skills to find a better job.


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Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.

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