Chapter 15. Excel Data Magic

After spending years loading up Excel with advanced number-crunchy features like pivot tables, database queries, and nested formulas, in 1999, Microsoft decided to step back and conduct some studies to see how its customers were enjoying their NASA-caliber spreadsheet program.

And what were 65 percent of Excel fans doing with all this power?

Making lists.

That’s right—most people use the software that drives uncounted businesses and statistical analyses for nothing more than building lists of phone numbers, CD collections, and so on. That’s why Microsoft, which never met a feature it didn’t like, has been building sophisticated list-making features into Excel ever since.

This chapter shows you how to use Excel tables, which are in essence multifeatured lists that give you the power to sort and filter the rows of your worksheet. You’ll also learn about some of Excel’s more advanced features that approach the border of a true database program like FileMaker Pro. Why use Excel, a number cruncher, instead of a database program for these tasks? If you already have Excel on your Mac and you might not be inclined to buy and learn a new application. Certainly, if your needs are very complicated, you may have to move up to FileMaker, but read on to see if Excel meets your data storage needs. You may be surprised.

Excel Tables, the New List Maker

Excel’s data-handling tools have gone by a few different names. At first they were databases. Then the Redmond gang started ...

Get Office 2011 for Macintosh: The Missing Manual now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.