Excel Tables Tutorial & 13 Tips for making you a Data Guru

Excel table is a series of rows and columns with related data that is managed independently. Excel tables, (known as lists in Excel 2003) is a very powerful and super-cool feature that you must learn if your work involves handling tables of data.

What is an Excel table?

Excel TablesTable is your way of telling excel, “look, all this data from A1 to E25 is related. The row 1 has table headers. Right now we just have 24 rows of data. But I can add more later!”

When you make a table (more on this in a sec) you can easily add more rows to it without worrying about updating formula references, formatting options, filter settings etc. Excel will take care of everything thus making you a data guru.

How to create table from a bunch of data?

To create an excel table, all you have to do is select a range of cells and press the table button from Insert ribbon in Excel (or use the shortcut CTRL+T).

See this simple tutorial:
Howto create a table in Excel - Tutorial

Today we will learn 10 excel data table tricks that will make you a data guru, no let’s make that DATA GURU.

The most important thing after you create a table – Give it a name

Once you have a table, go to design ribbon and give your table a name. If you don’t name it, Excel will call it Table2 or whatever. But once you name it, you can write meaningful formulas thru sweet sweet structural references feature. So name your tables.

1. Change table formatting without lifting a finger

Excel has some great predefined table formatting options. Just select any cell in your table and change the table formatting by going to “format as table” button in the home ribbon.

Table styles to change the look & feel of your Excel tables

If you are bored with the predefined formats, you can easily define your own table formatting color schemes and apply them.

2. Add Zebra Lines to Tables without doing Donkey Work

When you create a table, zebra lines come as a bonus. And when you add new rows to the table, excel takes care of zebra lining or banding automatically. You can turn on / off the banded rows feature from “design ribbon tab” as well.

Show banded rows or columns in Excel tables

That means you don’t need to use conditional formatting or manually format alternative rows in different color.

3. Tables come with Data Filters and Sort Options by default

Each data table comes with filters and sorting options so that you can filter and sort the data in that table independently. That also means, if a worksheet has 2 tables, they each get their own data filters (usually excel wont allow you to add more than one set of filters per sheet, but when it comes to tables, all exceptions are made, just for you)

Sort or filter tables with table header

4. You can also Slice your tables with slicers

Slicers on Excel TablesThat is right. When you have a table of data, you can insert a slicer (either from design ribbon or insert ribbon) and use that to filter your table data intuitively.

Learn all about Excel Slicers.

5. Bye, bye cell references, welcome structured references

The most important advantage of tables is that, you can write meaningful looking formulas instead of using cell references. When you create and name the table (you can name the table from design tab), you can write formulas that look like this:

Structured References Excel Tables Excel 2007 Tables

The beauty of structured references is that, when you add or remove rows, you don’t need to worry about updating the references.

Learn all about structural references in Excel.

6. Make Calculated Columns with ease

Any tabular data will have its share of calculated columns. Excel tables make having calculated columns very easy. With structured references, all you need to know is English to make a calculated column. The beauty of calculated columns in table is that, when you write formula in one cell, excel automatically fills the formula in the rest of cells in that column. That would make you an instant data guru.

Add a column to table with structural refs
Tables Total Calculated Field Excel 2007 Tables

7. Total your Tables without writing one formula

Add a total row to your table to see quick summariesThe ability to summarize data with pivot tables is extended to excel tables as well. You can add total row to your table with just a click.

What more, you can easily change the summary type from “sum” to say “average”.

8. Convert table back to a range, if you ever need to

If you ever wanted to go back to a normal range of data, you can easily convert the tables back to named ranges.

Excel will take care of the formulas and change the references to cell references.

9. Export Tables to Pivot Tables, Woohoo

What good is a bunch of data when you can’t analyze it? That is where Pivot tables come in to picture [pivot table tutorial]. Thankfully, you don’t need to do much. Just click a button and your table goes to pivot table.

summarize data with pivot table from table

10. Push the table data to Sharepoint Intranet Site

If you have a corporate intranet Sharepoint portal, you can easily publish the excel tables as share-point lists. This can be handy if you want to publish, say the top 10 sales persons of the quarter on the intranet.

Publish Excel table to sharepoint site

11. Print Tables Alone, with out all the other stuff around

Print Selected Excel Table only - Print Settings

Select the table, hit CTRL+P and in settings area, select “Print Selected Table” option to print your beautifully formatted Excel table.

12. Change, reshape or clean your table data with Power Query

When you have data in a table, you can easily load it to Power Query (Get & Transform Data) using the “From Table” button.

Load tabular data to Power Query for more ways to work with it

Here is an an example of what Power Query can do for you.

13. Got multiple tables? Connect them to make a multi-table pivot

Connect multiple tables using relationship feature

When you have more than one table, you can also connect them using Excel’s relationship feature. This way, you can build multi-table pivots to create powerful analysis of your data.

Learn all about Excel Table Relationships.

So, What do you think about Excel tables?

I say, give them a try. They have been around for more than a decade, but I still see people not using them. Setting up your data as a table is the easiest and most awesome thing you can do it. You can find some cool uses for tables in your day to day work. They are intuitive, easy to use and provide great power without added complexity.

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