PUBLISHED: Apr 12, 2010 5 min read

4 Ways You Can Save Time in Excel

Smart PPC campaign managers know Excel is a powerful tool that can make managing their accounts easier, faster and more efficient. But are you making the most of it?

Whether you use excel for reports, budgets, time management or all of the above, there are definitely ways you can optimize your Excel experience.  Just because you know how to do something in Excel doesn’t mean that your way is the only (or easiest) way to do it.  While few of us have the time to be proactive about how we use Excel, the truth is it would behoove all you campaign managers (or any Excel users out there) to dive into some of these handy-dandy resources. You will learn something and it will save you time!

A Helpful Excel Webcast for PPC Advertisers

SMN released a webcast last month detailing some pretty helpful tips on how to save time when you are managing reporting data for your PPC accounts. If you can invest 60 minutes of your time by watching this you may save yourself hours in the long run, and look cool in front of your coworkers when you implement what you learned.  After viewing the webcast, I became inspired to do a little research on my own to find shortcuts and functions for things I use most.

In this webcast you can learn things like

  • how to name a range
  • the benefits of conditional formatting
  • how recording a macro can save you hours
  • the endless possibilities of pivot tables

The Excel Shortcut Cheat Sheet

If the extent of your shortcutting abilities is  CTRL+C and CTRL+V, you may find this Microsoft cheat sheet useful. Shortcuts are real time-savers that let you get away from using a clumsy mouse. You aren’t going to need all of them, but it’s worth noting any that you would frequently use that will make your life easier. The time saving adds up.

Did you know?

  • F2 allows you to edit within a cell without double-clicking
  • CTRL+1 opens up the format box
  • CTRL+’ – copies the formula from the cell above without modifying the formula to that particular cell

And do you Scroll Lock in Excel? I know you see the button on your keyboard but you don’t really touch it, except to turn it off when it was accidentally turned on. Scroll Lock isn’t a godsend but it can save you a bit of awkward frustration if you want to do simple navigation within your worksheet and you don’t like using your mouse.  Basically it disables the arrow keys from moving your cell selection and allows you to move past the fold immediately.  So, say you are editing in A1 but you want to see something in A50. While you’re in A1 just put the Scroll Lock on and you can use the arrow keys to move within your sheet without losing the selection of the cell you’re in. “Look boss, no mouse!”

Learning More with Mr. Excel

In addition to a vast and ever expanding forum, this website offers new 2 minute podcasts each weekday detailing a new tip or trick. The forum is amazing because if you have a question about how to do something in Excel, chances are someone has already asked it and someone else has already answered it.

How Mr. Excel changed my life with absolute cell references in formulas

By far, the biggest milestone in my Excel life was the discovery of absolute cell references. If you love formulas but =$A$1+$B$1 looks foreign to you, you need to read the following immediately.

If you’ve ever tried to CTRL+D or copy and paste a formula, you’ll notice that the formula changes depending on where it’s been copied to. This is because the cells within the formula are relative. Wherever you paste the formula, the formula will change itself to reference the new column and/or row where it has been placed.  Absolute cell reference allows you to keep all or part of a cell in a formula constant, both when you want to use the fill down option or when you want to copy and paste a formula to another part of your worksheet. By inserting $ between the parts of the cell(s) you want to keep constant, you prevent all or parts of your formula  from changing. Mr. Excel explains absolute cell references like so:

  • $A1 tells Excel you always want to refer to column A.
  • B$1 tells Excel you always want to refer to row 1.
  • $B$1 tells Excel you always want to refer to cell B1.

Find Help with #Excel

A more passive way to learn Excel is to just let the tips come to you. As much as we’d like Twitter to be the answer to all our problems, it most likely isn’t going to help you if you are looking for an answer to a specific question you have. But you may come across a tweet or two that will pique your interest if you follow TechTipTweets or OfficeWatch. As a bonus, they often tweet about other MS programs that you may be using as well.