Tag Archives: Excel

An Excel Formula to Avoid a #VALUE! Error

If you’re using Excel, this one may be for you.

In M15, you need a formula that multiplies quantity (in, let’s say,  K15) by price (in, let’s say,  L15), but the price column also contains text entries such as Out of stock.  So the formula K15*L15 is not satisfactory because when you multiply a number by a text value (such as “Out of stock”) you get the #VALUE! error.

You could use an IF function to check for text, but there is a shorter solution.

The N function has a single argument: a value. It returns the value if the value is a number, or 0 if the value is text.

So, in M15, use the formula =K15*N(L15).

Thanks to Able Owl Excel tips for this one.


For other great time-saving tips, look up:
Being more efficient with your technology
Technology Information for Staff website

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When Excel Menu Icons Are Greyed Out

When you’re using Excel, do you ever find that the Ribbon and menu icons are inexplicably greyed out?

This can happen if you are in edit-mode in a cell (the cursor is blinking in a cell, waiting for you to enter something), or you have a dialog box open. It can also happen when you minimise an Excel workbook, then open a different one: if you were editing a cell in the first workbook (or have a dialog box open), you won’t be able to insert or edit anything in the second.

The solution is easy: hit the Esc key on the upper left corner of your keyboard.

Thanks to Able Owl Tips for this one.


For other great time-saving tips, look up:
Being more efficient with your technology
Technology Information for Staff website

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You’ll find more learning at Learning and Development.

Make Compiling a Document Easier

If you are compiling a document from two documents, and you have two monitors (computer screens), this tip will be very useful. They may both be Word documents, or could be emails, PDFs or even a combination of these.

  1. Open both documents and display one on each monitor
    (I like to maximise each one so that it fills the monitor)
  2. Decide which one is the primary document
  3. Drag text from the other document and drop it into place in the primary document.

Two important things to note:
– step 3 above will move the text from one document to the other
– to copy the text from one document to the other, hold down the Ctrl key while you drag and drop the text.

Other tips you may find useful are:
Resize a program window to fit half your screen
View 2 windows on one screen (for twin monitor users)
Four windows on two screens?
View One Word Document in Two Windows


For great time-saving tips, look up:
Being more efficient with your technology
Archive of Tech Tips
Technology Information for Staff website

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You’ll find more learning at Learning and Development.

Struggling With Keyboard Shortcuts?

If you’re struggling with keyboard shortcuts, you may not know about this….

When you hover your mouse over some toolbar icons in Microsoft Office programs, the keyboard shortcut is displayed.
When you hover your mouse over some toolbar icons in Microsoft Office programs, the keyboard shortcut is displayed.

When you hover your mouse cursor over most icons in Microsoft Office programs, a pop-up appears, explaining the tool and displaying the shortcut. So instead of clicking an icon on a toolbar, use the shortcut as often as you can – just hovering over an icon from time to time for a reminder of a shortcut.

Meanwhile, have a look at the Keyboard shortcuts section of the Being more efficient with your technology site.


For great time-saving tips, look up:
Technology Information for Staff website

Was this tip helpful to you? Anything else you want to know? Got some suggestions? Please leave a comment below or let me know.

You’ll find more learning at Learning and Development.

Autofit Column Width to An Individual Cell

This is one for the Excel users out there. It sounds a bit esoteric but if you wrestle with column widths, this is for you!

Last week we looked at using Excel’s AutoFit feature to automatically adjust the width of a column to match the contents of the widest cell in that column.

But let’s say that you want to adjust the width of a column to match the contents of an individual cell but you don’t want to AutoFit the entire column width (for example, because some of your rows contain lots of text – and so AutoFitting the column width would make the columns too wide).

So, to adjust the width of a column to match the content of an individual cell:

1. Select the cell whose width you want to AutoFit
2a. Click the Home tab
2b. Click the Format button drop-down (towards the far right of the Home Ribbon)
2c. Click AutoFit Column Width

That cell’s column width adjusts to match the width of the content of the cell you selected.

BONUS – to simultaneously adjust the widths of multiple columns to match the contents of multiple cells:

1. Select the first cell whose width you want to AutoFit
2. Hold the Ctrl key down and select the other cells whose width you also want to AutoFit
3. Choose Home | Format | AutoFit Column Width

The columns’ widths are adjusted so that the content of the cells you selected each fits in their respective columns. You can also choose Home | Format | Column Width and type in a fixed width for all the columns of the selected cells.

Another Excel tip: Copy Excel Column Width From Another Cell

Thanks to Able Owl Excel tips for this one.


For great time-saving tips, look up:
Being more efficient with your technology
Technology Information for Staff website

Was this tip helpful to you? Anything else you want to know? Got some suggestions? Please leave a comment below orlet me know.

You’ll find more learning at Learning and Development.