Sometimes an Excel document becomes too large to email or share via your filesharing service. Or it just takes forever to calculate. How can you speed up your spreadsheet or reduce the size of it?
Obviously, you should always look at the structure of the file and see if you can minimize the use of volatile functions such as OFFSET, INDIRECT, RAND, TODAY etc. The volatile functions recalculate every time you make a change in the workbook. It is also a good idea to be careful with Conditional Formatting, which is also a volatile feature.
But the easiest way to reduce the size and increase the speed of you file is to save it as an Excel Binary Workbook:
Do you want to calculate how much your current savings might be worth in 10 years or in 30 years? It’s an easy calculation that doesn’t require any specific function in Excel. Some simple multiplication, addition and exponentiation is all you need.
Still, the answer you will most likely get if you search for “compound interest in Excel” on Google is the FV function. The FV function is difficult to use, and it actually calculates compound interest based on a monthly rate rather than a yearly rate, which gives a slightly different result.
It’s a good idea to check if there are actually formulas in all the cells where you expect them to be. It happens all the time that someone accidentally has overwritten a formula with a hard-coded value, and it can be difficult to spot errors like that. Fortunately, there is a very easy way to locate all the formulas in an Excel report: The Go To Special feature.
This is what a sales report might look like. We expect to find formulas in some of the columns, but it’s almost impossible to go through the report manually cell by cell:
Sometimes you have to deal with an Excel file that has a lot of hidden sheets, and Excel only lets you unhide them one by one, so it can be quite annoying. Here’s an easy trick that lets you forget that you ever had this problem. It requires VBA, but it’s very simple, and you can save it as a personal macro that works for every Excel file you open on the same computer, so you never have to do it again. I’ll explain every step below.
First, make sure you have the Developer tab in the ribbon. If you don’t have it, right-click on any of the other tabs, choose Customize Ribbon and click the Developer check-box:
I wrote an article a few years ago about how you can join data from different columns, and add a comma between each part. It was quite tricky, especially if we had some empty cells, so we ended up with a long formula with SUBSTITUTE, TRIM and CONCATENATE.
If you have Excel 2019 or Office 365, there is an easier way: The TEXTJOIN function.
Here’s the same dataset that I used in the previous article, and the result we want in the column to the right:
Look at the diagrams below – they show the same numbers, but the vertical scales, the y-axis, are different. In this example we see how $1,000 grows to almost $300,000 in 50 years with a 12% yearly return.
The blue diagram has a linear scale on the y-axis, so the distance between 0 and 50,000 is the same as the distance between 200,000 and 250,000. The yellow diagram has a logarithmic scale with base 10, which means that each interval is increased by a factor of 10. Read more to find out how to do this in Excel, and why you may or may not want to use a logarithmic scale: