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Turn the Tables

One of the most powerful features of an Excel Workbook is the Excel table.

Now I’m not talking about just any table such as a dinner table or board game table, although I am fond of both of these. What I am talking about is a brilliant digital device within the Excel spreadsheet which just so happens to be called a “table.”

Insert an Excel Table

What is this Table You Speak of?

An Excel table is simply a defined range within your spreadsheet.

Ok…what does that mean?

This means that there are a series of rows and columns that you identify with a certain name. What’s more, this group of cells that you have now named is granted an assortment of features that is unique to an Excel table (more on these later).

Excel Table

This table structure along with the features that are included with it open up a brand new world of possibilities to you as a spreadsheet user.

In fact, I’d say that if you aren’t utilizing tables in Excel, you are really missing out.

The Features of Excel Tables

The first obvious advantage of using a table is that it provides you with a way to reference a group of cells.

In other words, you can use the name that is assigned to the table to include all of its data in any formula or function you may choose. That makes it a lot easier to build your spreadsheets in the long run.

Set the Excel Table Name

What’s even more impressive is that when you expand the table or add new data to the table, the table reference (its name) will now include what you just added.

This means that you can add in whatever you want to, and all of your previously defined functions and formulas will update automatically.

Another awesome feature of Excel tables is the filter that can be applied to the header row (top row) of the table.

This filter gives you a lot of options. In fact, you can do any of these following actions with the filter alone.

  • View only rows that contain a certain piece of data
  • View all rows except those that contain a certain piece of data
  • Sort all of the rows to be in order based on one or more columns
  • Sort by the color of the cells themselves

These different filter options give you a lot of choices and the ability to organize and manage your data however you see fit. And the best part is that you can make all of these changes with just a few clicks of a button.

Excel Table Filters

The final wonderful feature of Excel tables is the ability to add a “Total Row.”

This is essentially a row at the bottom of the table that you can configure to provide a certain type of statistic.

For instance, you can have the Total Row count the number of entries above it, sum the numbers of any given column, or give you the average value of your data.

Excel Table Total Row

The best part is, you get to decide just how to use this row or even if you want to use it in the first place. (It can be hidden if you don’t want to use it.)

Applying Tables to Your Life

Now that you know just how powerful an Excel table can be, I’d like to show you how you can apply it to your own life.

I will go ahead and give you two examples of how an Excel table can help you to better organize and manage your everyday life.

Example No. 1 – Manage Your To-Dos

The first thing you can do with an Excel table is put together a quick to-do list.

You can include different columns for due dates, priorities, and extra notes for the tasks themselves. What’s more, you can use the filters to view your most important tasks and narrow down your selection of what to focus on next.

You can even use the total row to count how many tasks you have sitting on your plate at any given time.

Example No. 3 – Track Your Spending

Another great idea is to put together a quick Excel table to track your day-to-day financial transactions.

It can be tricky to keep track of where your money goes with all the options you have for spending it, but if you utilize the power of tables, you can let the spreadsheet do all of the hard work for you.

You can capitalize on the table’s self-expansion feature which makes it easy to add new data.

You can also use the total row to give you an overall idea of how much you are spending.

And finally, you can jump on the filters to drill down into your spending specifics.

Overall, the Excel table will make tracking your spending that much easier of a task in the long run.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I never thought to use the tables option before, I always just did my own thing. After reading this article, I’m trying to use this more often and it’s honestly so helpful! I’m definitely a changed Excel user now!

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