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Excel Subtotals


The chips were flying last week while Murphy vacationed in Las Vegas. He kept a log detailing all his gaming sessions and entered all the data into Excel. The Subtotals feature made it really easy to summarize where the money went.

Excel SubtotalsA lot of Excel’s features for data management rely on what’s called “a list.” You can make certain tasks much easier by helping Excel recognize the boundaries of your list. How do you do that? Enter your data without any completely blank rows or columns. Excel sees the last row or column before a blank as the list’s edge. You can also apply some simple formatting to your header row (the column labels) so Excel won’t treat that row as part of your data.

Excel also has a List Manager feature to make your list more user friendly. But Murphy’s a little old-school when it comes to Excel, so he doesn’t often explicitly tell the application he’s making a list. You might like some of the features in a List Manager list, like a row at the bottom for adding more data.

Lots of people use Excel as a database. But with too much data it can become unwieldy. If you were to inadvertently highlight nine of your ten columns and then sort – that would be bad. The last column wouldn’t get sorted. Your data would be scrambled and you might not realize it for a while.

If you have data that truly requires a database it shouldn’t be stored in Excel. There are plenty of dedicated database applications to choose from. And Excel can still access your data in other programs to help with reporting.

Murphy looked at other Excel data features a few months ago. Take a look at this post to learn more about filtering your Excel data. Come back tomorrow for a look at Pivot Tables.

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