Using Wildcard Characters in Excel Formulas

Wildcard characters can be used in Excel to perform partial matches on text. This can be extremely useful as you can use them in filters, the find and replace tool and especially in formulas.

This blog post explores some examples of using wildcard characters in formulas to find, sum or count cells containing partial matches to what we are searching for.

If you prefer a video tutorial then check it out below, otherwise please continue for the written tutorial.

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Create a Searchable Drop Down List Just Like Google Search – Excel Trick

This blog post will take you through the steps to create a searchable drop down list in Excel – just like Google search. This is a great Excel trick for working with large drop down lists.

In this tutorial we will use a list of 87 names that as we type into the drop down list, it searches the names, and the list shortens to show only those names containing that string of characters.

searchable drop down list in Excel

There are a few formulas to write to get this done. Everything is shown and provided in this tutorial. If you prefer a video. Check out the video tutorial below.

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Excel Formula to Find the Least Frequent Value

This tutorial explains an Excel formula to find the least frequent value in a list. This formula will work whether the value is a number, or text. In this example we want to return the name that occurs the least.

The spreadsheet below shows a list of names with the answer in cell D2. Ross is the name that occurs the least in that list.

Excel formula for least frequent value

This formula returns the least frequent value from the list in A2:A16. The formula is explained below so keep reading.

{=INDEX(A2:A16,MATCH(MIN(COUNTIF(A2:A16,A2:A16)),COUNTIF(A2:A16,A2:A16),0))}

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Count Cells by Colour – Excel VBA Function

If you have ever tried to count cells by colour in Excel, you may have noticed that Excel does not contain a function to accomplish this.

We can find out how many cells by filtering the list by colour, and maybe use the AGGREGATE function to return the count. This is an option. But having to filter the list each time may not be good enough.

Because functions such as COUNTIF cannot count by cell colour, we will need to create our own custom function (also known as User Defined Functions or UDF’s) to get the job done. Continue reading

Use VLOOKUP to Find the Last Match in a List

VLOOKUP is an awesome Excel function. We all know this. But it certainly has its limitations. One of these is that it can only return the first match from a list.

This is great when looking for a unique value. But what about when the value you are looking for appears multiple times in the list, and you want to return the last match.

Sure we could sort the list so that the last match would become the first, but this is not always an option.

This blog post looks at using the VLOOKUP function to return the last match in a list. The technique and formulas used can be adapted to find the 2nd or 3rd match if required.

VLOOKUP to find last match

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5 Alternative Reasons to Use COUNTIF Function

The COUNTIF function is one of the most useful functions in Excel. Its job is to provide conditional counting. This is primarily used for analysing data and producing reports and dashboards.

In this blog post will look into 5 more unorthodox but useful scenarios for the COUNTIF function to be used. The 5 COUNTIF examples we look at are;

  1. Prevent duplicates in a range.
  2. Uniquely rank items in a list.
  3. Count the unique entries in a list.
  4. Compare two lists.
  5. Identify names that occur 3 times or more.

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Count the Unique Entries in a range

A common question from Excel analysts and enthusiasts on my courses is to count the number of unique entries in a list.

This post looks at using a formula to calculate this distinct count.

Consider the list below of a list of delegates attending our courses. A normal count on this range will tell us how many attendances there were. That’s good, but we want to know how many unique attendees there were.

List of delegates

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