Monday, October 22, 2012

Microsoft Excel - Format Painter and AutoFill

Practically every business, small and large, uses Microsoft Office. Included in this software package is the extremely powerful spreadsheet software (and my personal favorite) Microsoft Excel. Here are two time saving features for Excel that I use almost every day:

1. Format Painter

The Format Painter will copy the formatting from one place and apply it to another. Don't waste time "manually" applying the same formatting (background, font, size, border, etc) over and over to multiple cells - just use the format painter!  Here's how:

i. Locate and select the cell (or range of cells) that currently has the desired formatting.

ii. Click the Format Painter button located in the Home tab, bottom left corner of the ribbon. 

iii. Now select the destination cell (or range of cells) and the formatting from the first cell will be applied to the newly-selected cell(s)! Note this will not change the cell contents - only the formatting.

Tip: If you double-click the Format Painter button, it will lock the paste step, allowing you to paste the copied format multiple times. The selected format will be applied everywhere you click. To unlock the Format Painter simply press the ESC key on the keyboard.

2. AutoFill

The AutoFill feature in Excel will add content to selected cells based on input data and patterns. For instance - in the image above, when you AutoFill, Excel will fill in the other days of the week in proper order and repeat. Numbers will change accordingly, formulas will adjust themselves, and formatting will come along too - there are many ways to use this feature. Play around with it to see what all you can do! Select the cell (or range of cells) you wish to AutoFill. Move your cursor to the bottom right corner of the selected cell and it will change to a solid black "plus" symbol (like in the picture above). This is the AutoFill symbol. Left-click and hold the mouse button down. Now drag the mouse in the direction you wish to AutoFill. Once you have the desired range selected, release the mouse button and the contents of the cells will fill in.

Matt Sellers, CPA; Supervisor (and Excel enthusiast)