Excel Tips For Intermediate Users

Are you an Excel user looking to elevate your skills to the next level? Whether you want to save time, enhance accuracy, or simply impress your colleagues, this comprehensive guide provides a range of Excel tips specifically designed for intermediate users. From mastering keyboard shortcuts to creating PivotTables, our expert tips will help you streamline your workflow and take advantage of Excel's powerful features.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Master essential keyboard shortcuts to speed up your work in Excel.
  • Streamline data entry with features like AutoFill and Data Validation.
  • Create visually appealing worksheets with formatting techniques.
  • Unlock new capabilities with advanced formulas and functions.
  • Collaborate with others and protect your data with password protection and data validation.

Mastering Keyboard Shortcuts

Maximize your productivity with these essential keyboard shortcuts for Excel. Not only will they save you time, but they also make working in Excel more efficient and enjoyable.

Note: All shortcuts mentioned below are for the Windows version of Excel unless otherwise specified. Mac users will need to adjust their shortcuts accordingly.

Action Shortcut
Select entire column Ctrl + Space
Select entire row Shift + Space
Select entire worksheet Ctrl + A
Open the "Go To" menu Ctrl + G
Insert current date in cell Ctrl + ;
Insert current time in cell Ctrl + Shift + ;
Hide selected rows Ctrl + 9
Hide selected columns Ctrl + 0

These are just a few examples of the many keyboard shortcuts available in Excel. Experiment with different shortcuts to find the ones that work best for you and your work style.

Streamlining Data Entry

Accurate and efficient data entry is the foundation of any successful spreadsheet. Thankfully, Excel offers several features designed specifically to help streamline your data entry process and reduce errors. Here are some Excel tips to streamline your data entry:


AutoFill is an excellent time-saving feature that allows you to quickly fill a series of cells with repetitive data, such as dates, numbers, or text. To use AutoFill, simply select the data you want to replicate and drag the fill handle (the small square in the bottom right corner of the selection) to the desired cells.

Flash Fill

Flash Fill is another powerful tool that automatically fills in data based on the existing format of your entries. For example, if you have a list of full names in a single column, you can use Flash Fill to extract just the first or last names into separate columns. To use Flash Fill, simply start typing the desired format in an adjacent column, and Excel will automatically recognize and fill in the rest of the data.

Data Validation

Data Validation is an essential feature that helps ensure data accuracy and consistency by setting rules for the type and format of data that can be entered into a cell or range of cells. For example, you can use Data Validation to restrict the input of dates to a specific range, prevent duplicate entries, or limit entries to a set of predefined values. To apply data validation, select the cells you want to restrict and go to the Data tab > Data Tools > Data Validation.

By utilizing these techniques, you can significantly improve the accuracy and efficiency of your data entry process in Excel.

Enhancing Visual Appeal with Formatting

Formatting is a powerful tool that can drastically improve the visual appeal and readability of your Excel worksheets. By applying different formatting options, you can highlight important information, emphasize specific data points, and create a clear and organized layout. Here are some Excel tips for enhancing the visual appeal of your worksheets:

Format Numbers

Formatting numbers in Excel is essential for presenting data visually. Choose from various number formats, including currency, percentage, date, and time formats, to accurately display your data. You can also customize number formats by selecting the cells you want to format and opening the Format Cells dialog box.

Use Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting is a powerful feature in Excel that allows you to automatically highlight cells that meet specific criteria. Apply conditional formatting to cells, rows, or columns to quickly identify trends and patterns in your data. Customize the formatting rules to suit your needs and create eye-catching visuals that showcase your data.

Format Cells, Rows, and Columns

Formatting individual cells, rows, and columns in Excel can create a more organized and visually appealing worksheet. Use features like bolding, borders, and shading to create a clear and easy-to-read structure. You can also adjust column widths and row heights to improve readability.

"Effective formatting is like putting on a suit and tie when you meet someone important. It shows you're serious, organized, and professional." – John Smith, Data Analyst

Managing Data with Tables

Excel tables are a powerful tool for managing and analyzing large sets of data. By converting your data range into a table, you can quickly sort, filter, and format your data with just a few clicks.

To transform your data into a table, select the range and press Ctrl+T. Excel will automatically detect the headers and format the data range as a table.

Sorting and Filtering Data

Once you have a table, sorting and filtering become much easier. To sort the data, click on the dropdown arrow next to the column header you want to sort by, and select either Ascending or Descending order.

To filter the data, click on the filter icon in the column header. Excel will display a dropdown list with all the unique values in that column. You can select one or more values to filter by, or use the search box to find specific values.

Applying Headings and Calculated Columns

Tables allow you to easily apply headings to your data. Simply click on the header row and enter your desired column name.

You can also create calculated columns in your table, which will automatically update based on other columns' data. To create a calculated column, click on the last column and enter your formula. Excel will automatically fill in the column with the calculated results.

Styling Your Table

Excel provides a variety of pre-designed table styles that you can apply to your data. To apply a table style, select your table and click on the Table Styles dropdown in the Design tab. You can also easily customize your table by selecting specific formatting options.

"Excel tables are a game changer for effectively managing and analyzing data. With just a few clicks, you can sort, filter, and format your data like a pro."

Advanced Formulas and Functions

If you are looking to up your game in Excel, then it's time to start exploring advanced formulas and functions. These powerful tools can help simplify your tasks and increase your productivity, saving you time and effort in the long run.

One of the most useful features of Excel is the ability to use nested functions. This allows you to combine multiple formulas into one cell to perform complex calculations quickly. For example, you could use the IF and SUM functions to create a formula that only sums values that meet a specific condition.

Array formulas are another advanced feature that can prove incredibly useful when working with large data sets. Instead of performing calculations on individual cells, array formulas allow you to apply the same calculation across multiple cells at once. This can save considerable time when dealing with large data sets.

Example of an Array Formula:

Product Name Product Count
Coffee 5
Tea 3
Water 10

To sum the product count column, you could use the following array formula: =SUM(B2:B4)

Lastly, conditional calculations can be a significant time-saver when working with complex data. If you need to perform a calculation based on a specific condition, Excel makes it easy to do so.

By learning and utilizing these advanced formulas and functions in Excel, you can take your spreadsheet skills to the next level and streamline your workflow. So, start implementing these Excel tips today and unlock new capabilities in your analyses.

Harnessing the Power of PivotTables

If you deal with large datasets, PivotTables are your go-to solution for faster and easier analysis. These powerful Excel tools enable you to summarize and group data in seconds, no matter how complex your spreadsheets may be. Here are some tips to help you master PivotTables:

Create Your PivotTable

To create a PivotTable, select any cell in your data range and go to the "Insert" tab – click on "PivotTable" and choose your preferred location. Next, select the fields you want to add to your PivotTable by dragging and dropping them into the respective sections of the PivotTable Fields pane.

Customize Your PivotTable

PivotTables offer a range of customization options to suit your data analysis needs. You can change the layout, sort and filter data, and apply multiple calculations and summaries to your fields. You can also format your PivotTable to make it visually appealing and easier to read.

Refresh Your PivotTable

If your data changes, you can easily update your PivotTable by right-clicking on it and selecting "Refresh". You can also set your PivotTable to refresh automatically when you open the workbook or on a predefined schedule.

With these PivotTable tips, you can gain valuable insights from your data quickly and easily. Start using PivotTables today and take your Excel skills to the next level.

Visualizing Data with Charts and Graphs

Excel's charting capabilities offer a powerful way to represent data visually. With charts and graphs, you can convey complex information with ease, making it easier to identify trends and patterns.

Excel provides a wide range of chart types to choose from, including bar charts, line charts, scatter charts, and pie charts. Depending on the nature of your data and what you're trying to convey, different chart types may be more effective. Customizing charts is also easy, thanks to Excel's easy-to-use chart formatting options.

Combination charts are another great way to visualize your data, allowing you to display multiple series on a single chart. You can also create dynamic visualizations with features like slicers and timelines for even greater flexibility.

When creating charts, it's important to keep your audience in mind. You should choose chart types that are clear and easy to understand, and customize them so that they're visually appealing and easily interpretable.

Examples of Effective Chart Usage

Here are some examples of how charts can be used effectively:

  1. Bar charts and line charts are great for showing changes in data over time, such as stock prices, revenue, or website traffic.
  2. Pie charts and donut charts are useful for displaying the composition of a whole, such as the percentage of revenue generated by different product categories.
  3. Scatter charts and bubble charts are great for visualizing relationships between two or more variables, such as the correlation between temperature and ice cream sales.

“A good chart is the simplest chart that fits its purpose.”
― William Cleveland

By incorporating these Excel tips for charting and graphing into your analyses, you'll be able to communicate your data more effectively and efficiently.

Collaboration and Data Protection

Excel is a powerful tool not only for individual users but also for teams working on the same project. By collaborating on a single workbook, team members can save time and avoid the hassle of merging different versions of the same file.

Excel offers several features for collaboration, such as sharing, tracking changes, and commenting. To share an Excel workbook, go to the Share button under the File tab and enter the email addresses of the people you want to share the workbook with. You can also choose their level of access, whether to allow them to edit or just view the file.

The Track Changes feature enables you to monitor and review changes made by other team members. You can also accept or reject changes and leave comments, making it easier to collaborate on a large-scale project.

However, with collaboration comes the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access. It's important to protect your data by using password protection and data validation. Password protection restricts access to sensitive data, while data validation ensures that the data entered meets certain criteria, such as restricting the input of specific characters or values. This way, you can maintain the integrity of your data and avoid costly mistakes.

Protect Your Data with These Simple Steps:

Step Description
1 Click on the Review tab and select Protect Sheet.
2 Select the options you want to apply.
3 Enter a password to protect the sheet.
4 Click OK to save the changes.

By following these Excel tips, you can collaborate efficiently with your team while also safeguarding your data. Excel's sharing, tracking changes, and commenting functions make teamwork a breeze, while password protection and data validation ensure the security and accuracy of your data. Give these tips a try and see how they can make your Excel experience even better!

Automating Tasks with Macros

Are you tired of performing the same Excel tasks repeatedly? Save time and increase productivity by creating Macros to automate tasks! Start with the basics by understanding the process of Macro recording and editing. Explore the vast domain of Macros and streamline your work processes, all while learning new efficient ways of using Excel.

Macro Recording and Editing

To create a custom Macro, go to the Developer tab and select Record Macro. Select a name, description, and shortcut key for your new Macro. Excel will record all your actions, so you can replay them whenever you want. Edit the Macro manually or in the Visual Basic Editor (VBE) to customize it according to your preferences. Once created, the Macro will be available to use at any time!

Assigning Macros

To access your newly created Macro, simply assign it to a button or shortcut. To assign it to a button, go to the Quick Access Toolbar and select More Commands. Choose Macros from the drop-down menu and select the Macro of your choice. Click Add and assign an icon image to it for easy identification. To assign the Macro to a keyboard shortcut, go to the Macros dialog box and select the Macro, then select Options to assign a shortcut key.

Macros can simplify your Excel tasks and let you focus on analyzing your data. With just a few clicks you can automate the most time-consuming Excel tasks, streamlining your work and achieving faster results.

Working with External Data Sources

Are you tired of manually entering data into Excel spreadsheets? Do you want to expand your data analysis capabilities? Look no further than Excel's ability to import and connect to external data sources. By doing so, you can save time and gain valuable insights from a variety of data sets.

Importing Data

Excel allows you to import data from a range of sources, including databases, websites, and other files. To import data, simply select the "Data" tab, choose the appropriate source, and follow the prompts to select and import your desired data.

It is worth noting that, depending on the source, you may need to adjust settings or provide login credentials to gain access to the data. Once imported, the data can be manipulated and analyzed within Excel just like any other data set.

Establishing Data Connections

If you want to save time and ensure you always have access to the latest data, consider establishing a data connection within Excel. This allows Excel to automatically update the data within your spreadsheet whenever changes are made to the source data.

To establish a data connection, select "Data" tab and choose the appropriate source. Then, select the option to "connect" rather than "import." Follow the prompts to provide login credentials and select your desired data set. Once established, your data connection will update automatically whenever changes occur within the source data.

"Excel's ability to import and connect to external data sources is a game-changer when it comes to data analysis. By utilizing this feature, you can save time and gain valuable insights from a range of data sets." – John Smith, Data Analyst


Congratulations on completing this comprehensive guide to Excel tips for intermediate users! By implementing the techniques and functions we have covered, you can streamline your work processes and become a more efficient and proficient Excel user.

Remember to use keyboard shortcuts to speed up your work and streamline data entry to ensure data consistency and accuracy. Also, consider enhancing the visual appeal of your spreadsheets using various formatting options and creating professional-looking data tables and charts.

Additionally, with advanced formulas, PivotTables, and macros, you can perform complex analyses and automate repetitive tasks with ease. Collaborate with others on Excel workbooks and protect your data with password protection and data validation.

We hope these Excel tips will help you take your spreadsheet game to the next level and achieve your work goals more efficiently. Happy Excel-ing!


Are these Excel tips suitable for beginners or advanced users?

These Excel tips are specifically designed for intermediate users who already have a basic understanding of Excel and want to enhance their skills.

How can keyboard shortcuts improve my efficiency in Excel?

Keyboard shortcuts allow you to perform various tasks in Excel quickly and without using the mouse. By mastering these shortcuts, you can navigate spreadsheets, select cells, apply formatting, and perform calculations much faster.

What data entry features can I use to save time in Excel?

In Excel, you can use features like AutoFill, Flash Fill, and Data Validation to streamline your data entry process. AutoFill allows you to quickly fill a series of cells with patterns or data, Flash Fill automatically recognizes patterns and completes data based on your input, and Data Validation ensures that the entered data meets specific criteria.

How can I make my Excel worksheets visually appealing?

You can enhance the visual appeal of your Excel worksheets by applying various formatting options. This includes formatting numbers, cells, rows, and columns. Additionally, you can use conditional formatting to highlight important information based on specific conditions.

What are the benefits of using Excel tables?

Excel tables provide a structured way to manage and analyze your data. With tables, you can easily sort and filter data, create calculated columns, and apply table styles to improve the visual appearance of your data.

Can you recommend any advanced Excel formulas and functions?

Yes! Advanced Excel formulas and functions can help you perform complex tasks and calculations. Some examples include nested functions, array formulas, and conditional calculations.

How can I summarize and analyze large sets of data in Excel?

PivotTables are the answer! PivotTables allow you to summarize and analyze large sets of data effortlessly. You can create, customize, and refresh PivotTables to gain valuable insights from your data.

What options do I have for visualizing data in Excel?

Excel offers a wide range of charting capabilities. You can choose from different chart types, customize their appearance, and even create combination charts for more complex visualizations. Dynamic visualizations are also possible in Excel to effectively communicate your data.

How can I collaborate with others on Excel workbooks?

Excel provides features like sharing, tracking changes, and commenting to facilitate collaboration on workbooks. You can also protect your data by using password protection and data validation to maintain data integrity.

What is the benefit of using macros in Excel?

Macros allow you to automate repetitive tasks in Excel. By recording and editing macros, you can save time and increase productivity. You can also assign macros to buttons or shortcuts for easy access.

Can I import data from external sources into Excel?

Absolutely! Excel allows you to import and connect to external data sources. You can import data from databases, websites, and other files. By establishing data connections, you can ensure that your Excel data is always up to date.

How can these Excel tips benefit me as an intermediate user?

By implementing these Excel tips, you can enhance your spreadsheet skills, streamline your work processes, and become a more efficient and proficient Excel user. These tips cover a range of areas, including keyboard shortcuts, data entry, advanced formulas, and more.

What can I expect from this comprehensive guide on Excel tips for intermediate users?

This comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to improve your skills in Excel. From time-saving shortcuts to advanced functions, you'll learn how to take your spreadsheet game to the next level and achieve increased productivity and proficiency.