How to handle tables with empty cells in Excel

Sometimes you receive an Excel report or an export from another system with a lot of empty cells in a category column:

If you want to analyze the data, either with a Pivot table or with formulas such as SUMIFS and VLOOKUP, you need to populate all the empty cells in the category (dimension) columns, in this example column A.

For example, if you want the Total Sales for Northeast, the formula =SUMIFS(E:E,A:A,”Northeast”) will only work if you have the right region in every cell in column A .

This is how you do it:


How to find cells that contain a formula in Excel

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: