Essential Conditional Formatting Tricks

Conditional Formatting is an amazing feature of Excel. It is sure to create a spark of interest and questions during training. People see the potential in their spreadsheets and how easy their team could visualise their data and create engaging forms and reports.

This tutorial looks at the two most requested Conditional Formatting tricks asked by Conditional Formatting enthusiasts.

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Excel Training – Lookup your Data with the DGET Function

A key skill in Excel training is to be able to lookup and retrieve data from a range of records. The most popular way of achieving this is to use the Vlookup function. The Vlookup function on Excel is awesome and easy to use, but it has its drawbacks.

Cue the DGET function. A very powerful Excel function that will retrieve data from a record without the limitations of Vlookup. Advantages of using the DGET function include:

  • It can retrieve data from a column to the left of the column you searched within.
  • It can lookup data based on multiple conditions.
  • It can handle both AND and OR logic.

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Spell Check a Protected Excel Worksheet

Worksheet protection is used in Excel to protect cells containing formulas, hide sensitive data and much more.

Unfortunately one of the problems that arises from protecting a worksheet is the inability to spell check a worksheet.

To be able to spell check a protected worksheet you need a macro to unprotect the sheet, perform the spell check, and then protect the sheet again. Continue reading

Christmas Movie Quiz Spreadsheet – Test your Knowledge

Think you know your Christmas movies? Why not try this Christmas movie quiz.

There are 20 movies to recognise from a picture. Select the film from the list below the picture. A running total is kept at the top of the sheet.

Download the Christmas movie quiz spreadsheet.

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Count the Number of Words in a Cell

Working recently at a large Internet company they needed to find how many words were in a cell. This was because they had imported hundreds of thousands of keywords that customers had used to find their site through search engines.

To analyse this data they wanted to count how many words were in each cell containing keyword searches. provides many text functions for managing and manipulating the text in the cells of your spreadsheet. The following formula did the job.

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Excel Macros Tutorial – Remove Blank Rows Macro

Blank rows in your Excel spreadsheet are undesirable and can make it difficult to work with. Because of this, Excel provides many ways that we can locate and then delete the blank rows.

These techniques can include sorting the list to group the blank rows together, filtering for blanks and using Go To Special to locate blank cells for deleting.

However these can be time consuming and may not be the best approach for you. For example, sorting the list will change the order of the list. You may not want this.

By creating a macro to delete the blank rows of a spreadsheet this process will be effortless, and can also be performed by anyone when the macro is made available with a button. In this Excel Macros tutorial we show you how.

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PDF to Excel Conversion Tool

Last week I received an email regarding a PDF to Excel conversion tool. I’m regularly asked about converting PDF docs to Excel so thought I would check it out.

It works very well and has the following benefits:

  • 100% free
  • Safe and easy to use
  • Unlimited number of conversions
  • Hassle-free: no need to buy or install anything on your computer
  • Fast and accurate conversion results

You can learn more and test it here

Basic Excel Skills – Insert a Happy Face using the IF Function

I was asked today if it was possible to write an IF function that could insert a happy face if certain criteria was met. This would be used to show good performance. An unhappy face would be inserted for poor performance.

To insert a happy face in Excel we need to enter a capital J and format the cell in a Wingdings font. For an unhappy face, it’s a capital L formatted in the Wingdings font. Continue reading

Lotto 6/55 Number Generator Spreadsheet

Following my Excel lottery number generator video I have had frequent requests for a Lotto 6/55 version. So here it is.

This spreadsheet demonstrates some fantastic Excel techniques, and as always the file is unprotected so that it can all be investigated.

The following Excel features are used:

  • The RAND function is used to generate the random numbers
  • The RANK and COUNTIF functions are used to rank the random numbers from 1 to 55 for retrieval of the balls
  • The Vlookup function is used to retrieve the ball numbers
  • Some VBA is used to perform the formula calculations when a button is clicked (Manual calculation has been chosen over automatic for the workbook)

Download the Lotto 6/55 number generator spreadsheet.

Excel Templates – Mileage Claim Form

Many people use Excel to create forms such as invoices, holiday requests and mileage claim forms. Excels’ various tools to enable calculations, powerful formatting and validation rules make it perfect for form creation.

This post provides a mileage claim form template that demonstrates many useful Excel features in all their glory. Please download and check it out.

Excel templates – Download the mileage claim form template.

The spreadsheet has both worksheet and workbook protection applied for improved functionality. It can easily be unprotected and explored though as no password has been used.

This spreadsheet makes use of the following Excel features;

  1. Data Validation has been used to create a drop down list of offices to select from, and also to select either own car or company car.
  2. A range name is used so that the Data Validation tool can access the list of office on the hidden sheet.
  3. The Vlookup function is used to return the distance in miles of the selected office
  4. If functions are applied to remove the #N/A error message from the Vlookup when the form is blank, and also to control when the calculation of expense is applied.
  5. Workbook protection is used to prevent the hidden sheet from being shown (however there is no password on the download so you can unhide it)
  6. Worksheet protection is used to lock the cells containing formulas and to generate a tab order making the form more user friendly to complete.