Search Not Just Numbers

Monday 28 June 2010

Ease your World Cup woes and finish June on a positive note

As most of my readers and clients are in England and the USA, this weekend was not a good one for us from a football (or soccer if you prefer) perspective. The USA put up a brave fight against Ghana on Saturday night which is more than can be said for England yesterday against Germany.

I can't take away all of the pain but I will do what I can to ensure that June has not been wasted. To this end, I am offering a 20% discount on almost all of Feechan Consulting's services if paid for before the end of June.


There's still time to ensure that you remember June for something positive.

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Wednesday 23 June 2010

Come on England! Austerity and adversity have always inspired us!

After George Osbourne's 'Austerity Budget' yesterday (great summary from Accountingweb here), we face a 'do or die' England match this afternoon.

It is in the English character to be inspired by austerity and adversity, just look at how an older generation performed under rationing and during the blitz. As a nation, we are never at our best when things are going well but put our backs up against the wall and put the pressure on and we find hidden strengths.

I suppose what I am saying is that two draws and press vilification on the football front and a recession and a massive belt-tightening at home are ideal preparation for this afternoon's match.

If you need more inspiration, take a look at this video the BBC have put together with Brian Blessed.

Speaking of videos, I feature (briefly) in the video below from Back the Beard supporting Help for Heroes and Great Ormond Street, as I am not shaving while England are still in the competition. I am personally raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and you can see how the beard's coming along, and donate, at


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Monday 21 June 2010

Excel Tip: Manipulating text in Microsoft Excel

We all know Excel is great for manipulating numbers but I find I often need to use it to manipulate text, whether that be words or references such as accounts codes. The good news is that Excel has some great formulae for doing this.

I would recommend using the Insert Function (fx) button and looking at the functions in the Text category to see what is available but I will highlight some of the more useful ones here.

The Ampersand

Before we get into any functions it is worth looking at the power of the simple ampersand (&).

You can use the & character to join text together:


="Not"&"Just"&"Numbers"  returns NotJustNumbers
="Glen"&" "&"Feechan" returns Glen Feechan
="The account code you are looking for is "&A2 returns The account code you are looking for is 655-300, where cell A2 contains the Account Code 655-300.


These three functions allow you to return a section of a piece of text.

=RIGHT(A2,x) returns the last (rightmost) x characters in cell A2
=LEFT(A2,x) returns the first (leftmost) x characters in cell A2
=MID(A2,y,x) returns  x characters from cell A2, but starting at the character in position y


=RIGHT("Not Just Numbers",7) returns Numbers
=LEFT(A2,3) returns 655, where cell A2 contains the Account Code 655-300
=MID("Not Just Numbers",4,4) returns Just


This functions returns the length of a piece of text, in characters.

=LEN(A2) returns the length of the text in cell A2


=LEN("Not Just Numbers") returns 16 (NB: Spaces are characters)


These three functions allow you to change the case of a piece of text, great for adding consistency to keyed in data. They allow you to convert to Lower Case, Upper Case and Proper Case (lower case with capitals at the start of each word).


=LOWER("Not Just Numbers") returns not just numbers
=UPPER("Not Just Numbers") returns NOT JUST NUMBERS
=PROPER("NOT JUST NUMBERS") returns Not Just Numbers


Many of these functions are useful for manipulating codes, for example if the first 3 digits of your account code indicate the department, then you can use the LEFT function to strip these out and maybe use the result in an IF formula to determine how that code is treated, or with a VLOOKUP to return the name of the department.

Alternatively they can be used for getting data in a consistent format, for example getting address data all in proper case.

The uses are endless, have a play and see what else you can come up with.

And don't forget those of you who have signed up to Excel Advice by Email can just ask.

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Tuesday 15 June 2010

I'm backing the beard for England and Macmillan

Inspired by James Corden's call on his World Cup Live programme to Back the Beard and not shave until England return home from the World Cup, I thought I might be able to generate some money for a good cause, Macmillan Cancer Support.

I shaved, as I do every day on the morning of Saturday 12th June, prior to England's first match and will not shave again until England are coming home. Hopefully after a victorious World Cup Final on the 11th July. I will be regularly updating my Twitter feed with updated photos of my increasing hairiness.

If you'd like to support this worthy cause, so that my hairiness is not in vain, please visit:

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Thursday 10 June 2010

Ever feel your business needs re-formatting?

You know when your PC starts running slower and things aren't working the way they should. You know it's become a bit bloated with too many things installed on it. Sometimes the best thing to do is reformat and start again with what you know you need. Everything then runs faster and smoother.

I've been through a similar process with my businesses in the last few weeks.

Since launching the Excel Advice by Email service in the middle of May, we have revamped all three corporate websites with the help of Kelly Cairns:

Feechan Consulting Group
Spreadsheets by Email
FC Procurement

In addition, I have brought in a good friend of mine, Les Pynn, to drive forward the FC Procurement business.

All of this activity is the reason that there has not been a blog post for a few weeks. The process is now, however, pretty much complete with everything shiny and new so that I can concentrate on my day job, including this blog.

Are there any areas of your business that could do with re-formatting and starting again?

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