Pimp my Excel: 10 geeky power user tools and tips

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Author: Mitchell Feldman, CDO  
   Last updated: August 3, 2017

Excel is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Just because it’s powerful, though, doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from a few shiny add-ons, upgrades and alloy wheels.

Try shaping Excel to fit your business needs with these add-ons, tools and tips:

Data visualisation

1. Radial Bar Chart

This add-on displays your data in what can only be described as the outcome of merging a bar chart with a pie chart. Find our more about the Radial Bar Chart add-on from the Office Store.

2. Bubbles

It’s a little bit fun, it’s interactive, and it’s free. Bubbles presents your data in individual circles, the size of which correlate with the data provided. Take a look at the Bubbles add-on here.

3. Power Map

If you have data pertaining to geographical locations, Power Map is a 3D visualisation tool from Microsoft. It uses Bing maps to plot data points in the form of bubbles, heat maps or columns.


Speed up calculations

4. Reduce volatile functions

You might only need to run a set number of new calculations in a spreadsheet but any cells containing a volatile function are recalculated every time. Reduce these where you can and you will speed up the calculation process.

5. Single worksheets

Wherever possible, keep all your data in the same worksheet because Excel works harder to calculate expressions across multiple sheets. This is something to bear in mind at the start of a project, rather than when you already have data spread across more than one sheet.

6. Housekeeping

If you have extraneous data or calculations get rid of them. Create a back up and then delete everything that isn’t vital. Not only will this keep your spreadsheets tidier, it’ll ease up the workload for Excel.

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Data analysis

7. Power BI

Microsoft’s Power BI is an analytics tool that combines your existing data into information upon which you can make actionable and informed decisions.

8. StatPlus for Mac

If you’re a Mac user, StatPlus is a free piece of software that provides data analysis models and visualisation tools.


9. Macabacus

Sometimes Excel runs slow, sometimes it’s on you. Macabacus is a suite of Microsoft Office add-ons that boost productivity. For Excel, it implements modelling tools, charts, auditing and more than 100 keyboard shortcuts.

10. Power Utilitity Pak

Power Utility Pak is a suite of add-ons in Excel for Mac – yes, some people run Excel on Macs -  including more than 60 new commands and 53 additional worksheet functions.

Taking Excel to the next level

There are hundreds of tools and tips for getting the most out of Excel but what matters is whether they work for your business. For more advice on how to overcome Excel’s limits and if you really need to crunch serious amounts of data, download our free guide Taking Excel to the next level.

Topics: IT Manager, Business, Strategy

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