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Friday, 23 December 2016

Excel Tip: Ensuring that dropdown lists start at the top (and Merry Christmas)

Before I start this post, I must first apologise for the lack of posts over recent months. After returning from my summer holidays, my workload hasn't really eased (which isn't a bad thing), and my blogging has suffered.

I wanted to get an (albeit short) tip up before Christmas, though, and it is one of my New Year resolutions to post at least once a month in 2017.

Your Christmas tip then is a simple answer to a particularly annoying aspect of data validation dropdown boxes.

A feature of data validation drodpown lists in Excel is that if the cell already contains a value from the list, the dropdown starts with that value selected, and you need to scroll up if you want to select an earlier value.

This is normally fine except for the following (very common) scenario.

It is good practice to have the dropdown list look at a range where its entries can be edited, and to leave space at the bottom of the list to allow the list to be added to.

However, a side-effect of this is that, when your cell is empty, the dropdown will start at the bottom of the list, as it sees the empty cells at the bottom as a match for the current entry (nothing).

The simplest answer I have found to this is to have a blank cell at the top of the list as well. As this matching feature matches the first match it finds, your dropdown list will now start at the top (for an empty cell).

I often find the neatest way to do this is to have a blank row under the headers that doesn't look like part of the list:



In the example above, we could use the range A2:A14 to drive the dropdown list and cell A2 would be the first match for a blank cell, rather than A12.

That's it for now, and 2016! May you and your family have a great, safe and Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) and a fantastic 2017.




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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Excel Tip: Using Logic in Excel

Logic (particularly Boolean Logic) plays a huge rule in computer programming and circuitry, but is also very useful in Excel.

It is fundamental to the IF statement which in itself is such an important tool in Excel, but has many other roles.

Essentially, when we talk about logic in this context, we are talking about expressions that can either be true or false, e.g.

A1=100
B5<=34
C2="Yes"

You can simply type the expression as a formula in a cell putting an "=" in front of it, so if you enter:

=A1=100

into, say, cell B1, then cell B1 will show the word TRUE if A1 is 100 and the word FALSE otherwise.

As mentioned earlier, one of the more common places to use these expressions is in an IF statement, which works as follows:

=IF(expression,value to return if expression is TRUE,value to return if expression is FALSE)

e.g.

=IF(A1=100,"Yes","No")

will return Yes if A1 is 100 and No if not.

Some logical functions
There are a few logical functions which extend the possibilities, in particular we will look at NOT, AND and OR.

NOT reverses the result of a logical expression.

If

=A1=100

returns TRUE, then

=NOT(A1=100)

returns FALSE, and vice versa.

AND allows you to list multiple expressions and returns TRUE only if ALL of the expressions would individually return TRUE. Otherwise it returns FALSE.

OR works the same but returns TRUE if ANY of the expressions are TRUE.

e.g.

=AND(A1=100,B5<=34,C2="Yes")

will only return TRUE, if all three of those statements are TRUE.

Whereas:

=OR(A1=100,B5<=34,C2="Yes")

will return TRUE if any of the three conditions are TRUE.

By using this type of logical expression, particularly within an IF statement, or  a Conditional Formatting condition, we can control how a spreadsheet both looks and calculates based upon the content of cells.





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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Excel Tip: Ranking numbers in Excel

Before I start, a couple of announcements.

First of all, please accept my apologies for the time between posts. A combination of workload and a family bereavement have slowed me down somewhat!

Secondly, if any of you will be in and around London tomorrow (Wednesday) night, the ICAEW are launching their Spreadsheet Competency Framework, with some top speakers from the world of Excel. This document (as suggested by its name) is intended to provide a framework to assess spreadsheet competency, and was developed by the Institute's Excel Community Advisory Committee, of which I am a member. The event is free to attend, and further details can be found at:

http://www.icaew.com/en/technical/information-technology/it-faculty/it-faculty-events

I hope to see you there.

Right...on with the post.

There are many reasons, you might want to rank a list of numbers in Excel. One I do quite often, is produce a league table. By calculating the ranking of a number and then using lookups to populate a table in rank order, we can easily produce a league table, like the example below:


The first Rank column is the one we are trying to populate here.

In Excel 2010 onwards we will use the RANK.EQ function, which replaces the RANK function in Excel 2007 and before. Both functions work exactly the same, and both exist in Excel 2010 to 2016, at least. If you know you may have users using Excel 2007 or earlier, use the RANK function - otherwise use RANK.EQ to future-proof your spreadsheet.

The RANK.EQ (or indeed the RANK) function's syntax is as follows:

=RANK.EQ(number,ref,[order])

where:

number is the number we want to know the rank of
ref is the whole range of numbers
order is an optional argument, which determines the order that the numbers should be ranked in. If this argument is zero, or omitted, the numbers are ranked in descending order (the largest number is ranked 1), whereas if this is 1 (or any non-zero value), the numbers are ranked in ascending order.

Where two numbers in the range are the same, they are both given the highest rank (when using the RANK.EQ function - there is a similar RANK.AVG function that gives them their average rank).

In our example the numbers 30,45,97, etc. are in the range B3:B12, so we would use the RANK.EQ function in cells C3:C12. In cell C3, we would enter:

=RANK.EQ($B3,$B$3:$B$12)

Notice that we have fixed all of the references (using the dollar signs) on the B3:B12 range, to ensure that this range stays fixed when we copy it down, but just the column on the B3 reference so that the row (and the number we rank) changes as we copy down.

If we use this function as it is, we will run into a problem, though. As there are two number 24s in our range, we get the following:


Notice that both 24s are ranked 8 (the highest rank), which means there is no rank 9 - hence our error in the league table when we try to look up 9. We need each rank to be unique for our league table to work.

We will need to use another formula to address this, and we can use COUNTIFS to count how many instances have occurred so far in the list.and if this is greater than 1, to add the difference to the rank. Our formula becomes:

=RANK.EQ($B3,$B$3:$B$12)+COUNTIFS($B$3:$B3,$B3)-1

Notice that in the criteria range B3:B3, I have fixed the row on the start of the range and left it flexible on the end, so when our formula is copied down, we are always counting the instances from the top of the column to the current row. By the end of the range, our formula is:

=RANK.EQ($B12,$B$3:$B$12)+COUNTIFS($B$3:$B12,$B12)-1

On the first 24, our RANK.EQ function returns 8 as before, and our COUNTIFS counts that there is 1 24 so far, so:

8+1-1 = 8

On the second 24, our RANK.EQ function again returns 8, but our COUNTIFS now counts that there are two 24s so far, so:

8+2-1 = 9

thereby giving us the result we required:


The league table was created by entering the numbers 1 to 10 in the first column and using INDEX and MATCH to return the number at that rank from the first table.

The INDEX/MATCH function on the first row (row 3) was:

=INDEX($B$3:$B$12,MATCH($E3,$C$3:$C$12,0))

If you did not understand the COUNTIFS or INDEX/MATCH functions, please visit these earlier posts:



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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Excel Tip: Adding up columns based on multiple criteria (the SUMIFS function)

Before getting into today's post I want to point you to an excellent free Webinar being offered (for a limited time) by Mynda Treacy, entitled "Creating Excel Dashboards". Mynda is a real expert on Excel Dashboards and her training materials are always excellent. You can register for the webinar here.

I realised the other day that I had never covered one of my most used functions on this blog - SUMIFS. I have covered its predecessor, SUMIF, as SUMIFS has only been available since Excel 2007.

Although SUMIF is still available in later versions of Excel for compatibility purposes, it is essentially redundant, as SUMIFS does the same thing, plus a lot more.


Let us look at an example of some sales data (see left).

Say we want to know how much Mary's sales were, or how much Sarah sold in the East Region, or even how much Ben sold in the North region in the month of January.

SUMIFS can do all of these.

The syntax for SUMIFS is as follows:

=SUMIFS(SumRange,CriteriaRange1,Criteria1,[CriteriaRange2],[Criteria2].....)

You can have as many pairs of CriteriaRange and Criteria as you need. The function works as follows:

SUM SumRange where CriteriaRange1 = Criteria1 and CriteriaRange2 = Criteria2 etc. for however many criteria you have.

For all of the examples above the SumRange will be D2:D21, as this is the range we want to sum, subject to our criteria. We will look at how we construct the rest of the formula for each of our examples above.

How much did Mary sell?
Here we only have one criteria:

CriteriaRange1 = C2:C21
Criteria1 = "Mary"

=SUMIFS(D2:D21,C2:C21,"Mary")

returns £16,853.

How much did Sarah sell in the East Region?
This time we have two criteria:

CriteriaRange1 = C2:C21
Criteria1 = "Sarah"

CriteriaRange2 = B2:B21
Criteria2 = "East"

=SUMIFS(D2:D21,C2:C21,"Sarah",B2:B21,"East")

returns £1,085.

How much did Ben sell in the North Region in the month of January?
This time we actually have four criteria:

CriteriaRange1 = C2:C21
Criteria1 = "Ben"

CriteriaRange2 = B2:B21
Criteria2 = "North"

CriteriaRange3 = A2:A21
Criteria3 = ">="&DATE(2016,1,1)

CriteriaRange4 = A2:A21
Criteria4 = "<="&DATE(2016,1,31)

There are two elements to these last two criteria that need further explanation.

The first is that if our criteria is anything other than equals, we need to include the criteria in inverted commas, for example ">23", or "<=15", to make it a string. If rather than 23, we wished to refer to a cell (say G5) we can use the ampersand (&) to join two strings together, e.g. ">"&G5.

The second is that if we wish to refer to a date directly, we need to refer its sequential number which we can calculate using the DATE function. The three arguments for the DATE function are Year, Month and Day, so to get the date sequence number for 1st January 2016, we can use DATE(2016,1,1). Note that if we entered 1/1/2016 in cell G5, we could just use ">="&G5 for Criteria3, as the cell value when you enter a date, is its date sequence value.

Our function is therefore:

=SUMIFS(D2:D21,C2:C21,"Ben",B2:B21,"North",A2:A21,">="&DATE(2016,1,1),A2:A21,"<="&DATE(2016,1,31))

which returns £4,007.

In most real situations we are likely to have all of the criteria in other cells, as we are usually doing more than one calculation.

With careful planning and smart use of dollar signs, you can structure your formula so that you only need to write it once. For example if we wish to populate the following grid from our data:

If we put the following function in cell J2, we  can copy it to all of the other cells:

=SUMIFS($D$2:$D$21,$C$2:$C$21,$I2,$B$2:$B$21,J$1)

We have used dollars to fix both the rows and columns of the references to the data table, as these should not change, no matter what cell that we are in.

For our criteria however, we want those to change between cells, so we have fixed the column of our name criteria ($I2), as we are always going to look to column I for the name, but want it to change as we change rows. Similarly, we have fixed the row of our region criteria (J$1), as we always want to look at row 1, but want it to change with the columns.

Hopefully this gives you an idea how flexible SUMIFS can be.


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