5 Little-Known Excel Features You Need To Try

A woman working in Excel, using top Excel features.

In the hustle and bustle of our daily spreadsheet adventures, it’s easy to overlook the hidden gems that can transform how we work. For this reason, we are about to reveal five time-saving Excel features that will revolutionize your efficiency. These are not just for the seasoned Excel wizards. Beginners, too, can apply them and reap the benefits.

Let’s not keep you waiting any longer — brace yourself for a productivity boost!

Excel Time-Saver Tip 1: Quick Jump Bookmarks

How many times has this scenario happened to you: you open a hefty workbook with many different tabs, and every time you need to reach a specific place in the file, it feels like a digital scavenger hunt. Our first hidden gem is here to the rescue!

How to Set Up Bookmarks ​ ​

Excel might not have a built-in bookmark feature, but here’s a nifty trick. Imagine having a shortcut to the most visited spots in your workbook. Select a cell, head to the Name Box, and give it a recognizable name—let’s call it “JanuryReport” (you can’t have any spaces here). Then, press Enter.

Now, regardless of where you are in your vast workbook, a single click on the drop-down or typing the bookmark’s name catapults you straight to your designated location. No more endless scrolling or tab-searching!

Pro Tip: Maintain a naming convention for your bookmarks to keep things organized. If, by any chance, you wish to bid farewell to a bookmark, head to Formulas > Name Manager, locate it, hit Delete, OK, and the bookmark is gone.

Excel Time-Saver Tip 2: Analyze Data

Our second time-saving gem is Analyze Data, formerly known as Ideas. This feature is your shortcut to AI-powered data analysis.

How to Utilize AI Analysis

Imagine you’ve just laid eyes on a fresh data set, equipped with columns like Month, Product, Total Sales, Units Sold, Customer Ratings, and Returns. You’re on a mission to discover the five products with the highest ratings across all time periods — a task that might seem daunting.

However, with the Analyze Data feature, it’s quick and easy:

  1. Go to Home, and click on Analyze Data.
  2. Ask your question, and watch the magic unfold.

For this example, we wanted to know the top five products by average customer ratings across the entire year. Just insert a Pivot Table, and the answer appears, neatly organized in a new sheet. You can adjust the Pivot Table settings, if needed, from the PivotTable Fields.

If you need more details, a double-click on the specific data point creates a new sheet with all the necessary information.

Excel Time-Saver Tip 3: One-Click Forecasting

When dealing with sales or revenue data, this feature is a secret weapon for effortlessly predicting the future. Imagine having the power to forecast your future sales with just a click. Well, imagine no more —let’s do it together.

For this example, we’ll look into Coffee Bean Sales data, starting from 2022 and projecting into the next two years.

Here’s how to do the quick forecast:

  1. Select your data set, press Ctrl + A.
  2. Navigate to Data > Forecast Sheet.

Your future sales data is magically forecasted, and it intelligently considers seasonality. While it may predict numerous future periods, you can adjust the forecast end date to fit your needs. Under Options, there’s the Confidence Interval to set the range for your future data points. Whether you let Excel automatically detect seasonality or manually set it, the forecasting world is at your fingertips.

Charting the Future

Once you are done, click “Create,” and here is your chart with forecasted sales data! Customize it like any other Excel chart—formatting, design, it’s all in your hands (update anything you want under Formatting or under Chart Design).

Excel Charts made by utilizing top Excel features.
Image by Canva

But here’s the kicker: alongside your chart, you get a handy table displaying the lower and upper confidence bounds for each future month. Make any adjustments that you want directly to this table, and it’s going to reflect automatically in your chart!

Read more on ‘Productivity: 10 Essential Excel Add-Ins

Excel Time-Saver Tip 4: Quick Analysis Tool

Prepare to meet your personal Excel assistant!

Example: Suppose you have a dataset tracking monthly website visits for various pages. You want to swiftly identify pages with views surpassing 1,000.

Do the following: Select your data, press Ctrl + A, and bring up the Quick Analysis Tool with Ctrl + Q.

Notice all the different options: sparklines, tables, totals, and charts. Hover over the chart options to see the possibilities and choose one that suits your data visualization needs.

Effortless Conditional Formatting

For our example, let’s focus on highlighting months where page views exceed 1,000.

  1. Go to the Formatting section.
  2. Select Greater Than, enter 1,000, and choose a vibrant color (let’s say, Yellow fill).
  3. Click OK, and the conditional formatting is applied instantly, drawing attention to the noteworthy months.

Tip: What if you want to add sparklines to visualize the monthly trends? Press Ctrl + A, then Ctrl + Q (or just click the little icon at the side). Navigate to Sparklines and choose Line Sparkline.

Dynamic Running Totals

To add Running Totals: Highlight the data (Ctrl + A), go to Totals, and select Running Total. The Excel effortlessly computes running totals, showcasing the cumulative website views. A glance at this chart now not only reveals monthly variations but also provides insights into the evolving total views.

With the Quick Analysis Tool, you’re not just analyzing data —you’re transforming it into meaningful visuals with unparalleled ease.

Excel Time-Saver Tip 5: Power Query

The ultimate time-saver feature, Power Query, is not just for the tech-savvy. It’s a game-changer for anyone wrangling data in Excel. Located in the Data tab in the ribbon, this tool is your ticket to importing and transforming data from various sources.

Whether you’re importing data from text, CSV, web pages, images, or even PDF files, you can do so with ease.

Let’s illustrate its prowess with an example:

Imagine you have a file with monthly data, and the challenge is to pivot the rows into columns based on the first of the month for different products. You’ve got over 300 rows of data (!!), but here’s how to arrange it in that specific format using Power Query:

  1. Select From Table Range and send your data to Power Query.
  2. Add a Column: Go to Date >Month > Insert Month Name.
  3. Delete the original month column.
  4. Select Month Name, go to Transform > Pivot Column.
  5. Select Values Column.
  6. Click on ‘OK’.
  7. Now, click “Close & Load,” and just like that, your data is formatted as a matrix by month. A seemingly complex task achieved with 10 or fewer clicks!

Conclusion: Time-saving Excel Features

As you integrate these tips into your Excel toolkit, picture the seamless navigation, swift data analysis, and effortless transformations at your fingertips. Excel, once a spreadsheet, now becomes a dynamic canvas for innovation and productivity.

Convert Your Documents to Excel (XLSX) with Ease

The Online Convert’s free online Excel converter can seamlessly transform your PDFs, scans, images, or tables into the versatile Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format (XLSX).

Why Convert To XLSX?

While PDFs are ubiquitous for easy sharing, Excel’s XLSX format offers unparalleled flexibility. Unlock the ability to edit values, manipulate tables, add rows and columns, and effortlessly create graphs based on your data. If you’ve encountered limitations in your PDFs, it’s time to bridge the gap by converting to XLSX.

How To Convert To XLSX?

Thanks to Online Convert’s user-friendly XLSX converter, the process is a breeze. Simply upload your document or file through various methods – drop it into the upload field, use cloud storage, browse your device, or provide a link. Click “Start” and within moments, your transformed XLSX file is ready for download on the next page.

Enhance Your Excel Experience with OCR

Take your conversion a step further with Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Need to extract tables from images or scans? OCR interprets visible information, creating a structured table that seamlessly integrates with Excel.

Streamline your workflow and make the most of your data-driven journey today!