Search Not Just Numbers

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Excel Tip: Add a simple tick box to your spreadsheet - and use its result!

Do you ever wonder how you get those professional looking tick boxes (or check boxes) in your spreadsheet?

They're easier to add than you think, and it's pretty straight-forward to have calculations depend on the result of the tick box.

In this post, I'll show you how to do both.

Before you can add a tick box, you need the Developer Ribbon enabled. If you don't see it as one of the named Ribbons at the top of Excel, then you can add it by selecting File - Options - Customize Ribbon and then ticking Developer in the list of Main Tabs on the right-hand side.

To insert a tick box, go to the Developer ribbon and click Insert in the drop-down menu that appears, click the Check Box (Form Control) icon. This is the tick box under the heading Form Controls - if you hover over it you will see the name "Check Box (Form Control)" appear.

Your cursor will become a cross and you can now click where you want the tick box to appear.

The box will appear with some default text to the right of it (this will usually be Check Box 1 if this is the first one that you have inserted into the spreadsheet. This text can be edited (or deleted) by double-clicking on the text and editing or deleting as required.

This is your tick box created and you can now click it to toggle between ticked and unticked.

However, I did say that I would show you how to use the result of the tick box.

If you right-click on the tick box you will see the menu option "Format Control". Click on this and go to the Control tab.

You will see a box entitled Cell Link. Enter a cell reference here, where you wish to store the result of the tick box (let's say C3). Now when you click the tick box, cell C3 will switch to show TRUE, and when you untick the tick box, C3 will show FALSE.

You can then use cell C3 in a formula. The most common way to use it would be as the criteria argument of an IF function. As C3 contains the logical value TRUE or FALSE, then this is all you need as your criteria argument, so:


will return the value 100 if the tick box is ticked, or 0 if not.

It's as simple as that!

Excel Expert Course

If you enjoyed this post, go to the top of the blog, where you can subscribe for regular updates and get two freebies "The 5 Excel features that you NEED to know" and "30 Chants for Better Charts".

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Excel Tip: Identifying your financial period from a date

When working with financial transactions, we often want to analyse them between our financial periods rather than just calendar months.

This is pretty easy if your financial year is January to December and  your periods are the calendar months, but what if your year starts in April or you have four and five week periods - or both?

I'll explain how to address each of these scenarios in this post.

In each case, let us assume the date we want to identify the period for is held in cell A2.

Calendar Year with Calendar Months
This is by far the simplest scenario as we can use the MONTH function to strip the month number from the date, so =MONTH(A2) will do the trick, returning 1 for January, 2 for February, etc.

Non-Calendar Year with Calendar Months
This situation is slightly more complicated but we can use our knowledge of the IF function to address it, along with the MONTH function used above.

Let's say our year end is March So the calendar month 4, is our period 1. So deducting 3 from the month will give us our period, however this will only work from April onwards. If our date is in February and we deduct 3 from the month, we will have -1, rather 11, which is what we require. This is where the IF statement comes in.

If the month is greater than 3, then we want to deduct 3, otherwise we want to add 9 (which is 12 -3).

So, our formula becomes:


The 3 is the month of our year-end and the 9 is 12 minus the month of our year-end, so if our year ended in October (month 10), then the formula would be:


Non-Calendar Year with Non-Calendar Periods
For this situation, we need to take a different approach. We don't have a simple rule for the periods, so we will need to tell the spreadsheet them. We can do this with a LOOKUP table.

We should have a two-column table with the first column for the  start date of each period (earliest to latest), and the second column for the period number.

We can then use VLOOKUP with a TRUE (or omitted) fourth argument to look up the correct period.

Say the lookup table is in cells D2:E13 (when doing this for real, I would recommend putting this on a separate tab), then our formula would be:

=VLOOKUP(A2,$D$2:$E$13,2) will return the period number.

I have applied the dollar signs to the range so that it stays fixed when copied to other rows.

This last approach is obviously the most flexible and can be used for many other scenarios, e.g. identifying VAT quarters for example.

Excel Expert Course

If you enjoyed this post, go to the top of the blog, where you can subscribe for regular updates and get two freebies "The 5 Excel features that you NEED to know" and "30 Chants for Better Charts".