What no Status Bar?

Status Bar

The status bar is a jolly handy part of the excel spreadsheet window. I’m sure you use it all the time and would miss it terribly if it disappeared. Well I do and it did! It’s easy enough to get back provided you know what its called but how many of you can point to the status bar right now?

So the status bar is right at the bottom of the spreadsheet window, it acts as a sort of message bar but also has some great short cut features. It enables you to perform a single calculation on a range of highlighted cells – so typically you would select a few cells and then read the Sum of the values on the Status Bar. If you right click on the status bar you can select a host of different calculation such as min, max, average ……

Looks like the status bar is even more whizzy in Excel 2007 as you can select multiple calculations to show up for each selection.
Anyways, if you lose the status bar, head to the View menu and make sure the Status Bar option is ticked. Easy, but only if you know its name. It took me ages to find it as I had to wade through about a 1000 google results for the query: “Sum selected range in bottom of excel screen”.

Status Bar

Values Stored as Text

Value stored as text

One of my work colleagues is driving me nuts! On an almost daily basis he drags me over to his desk to correct the exact same problem, he thinks his VLOOKUP isn’t working properly but it is always the case, that in one sheet, his data is stored as text.

I can see the problem from across the room as his spreadsheet is littered with little green arrows informing him “value stored as text”!!!!! The exclamation marks are mine but by golly they are needed. I go across, convert his dodgy column to values and Bobs your Uncle, the VLOOKUP starts spewing out the answer.

This is going to keep rearing its ugly head for him, it seems to be an occupational hazard that data from certain sources will be interpreted as text by Excel. My problem is how to find the simplest technique of converting all these figures back to values so that he can start doing it himself. These are all the tricks I use:

1. Insert an additional (temporary) column to the right of the column containing the values formatted as text. Enter the formula =VALUE(cell ref). Copy this down to the bottom so you have a new column containing the text as values. Copy the new column and paste over the dodgy column using Paste Special As Values. Delete the temporary column. This is my method but my colleague isn’t loving it.

2. Enter the value 1 in an empty cell, select and copy. Now select the range of cells to convert to numbers. Choose Paste Special from the Edit menu, check the Multiply radio buttonand click on OK. This automatically forces Excel to replace the contents of the cell with the numerical equivalent of the text that was previously there. Quite a neat trick I think, perhaps I will try him with this one.

3. Another method is to use the Text to Columns option in the Data menu. This throws up the sort of dialog box used when importing text or csv type data. It works but you have to be careful if your column to be converted has any extraneous spaces or tabs which may result in data to the right of the affected column to be overwritten.

4. Final tip. The liitle green triangles in the top left of the cell, inform you of the format error. They also offer the option of “Convert to Number”. You could go through 1 by 1 clicking this option or if you are a bit nifty you can highlight the affected figures, hover over the error message and then select the “Convert to Number” option. This is definitely the easiest option but I often find it a bit fiddly to get the message to appear.

Value stored as text