5 Essential Excel tips from John Michaloudis

by | May 13, 2021

Ever wondered how you can work faster in Excel to become more productive? Looking for some essential Excel tips?

Organising your data, and making it easier for decisions to be made from your spreadsheet is not as hard as you might think.

John Michaloudis — MyExcelOnline, and Donald MacCormick — Squirrel365, say there are two things you can do to ensure your data is presented in the best possible light for easy analysis:

  • Improve your skills and efficiency with some essential Excel tips and time-saving shortcuts.
  • Use your Excel data to quickly and easily build interactive content that can be shared in PowerPoint or via a web link.

There are over 750 million users of Microsoft Excel but how many of them know how to get the most out of the tool and take their Excel skills to the next level? And how many of them have the ability to turn their data into visual, easily consumable insights where the end-user has control over what they see?

In an eye-opening webinar John Michaloudis — Chief Inspirational Officer of MyExcelOnline joins Squirrel365 to share his favourite 10 tips from his book 101 Best Excel Tips and Tricks.

This blog provides a summarised version of the first 5 tips (read up on tips 6-10 in part two) and reveals how you can go on to build interactive content with your Excel skills. You’ll quickly learn how to supercharge your Excel spreadsheets and save time in the process. Let’s get stuck in.


John’s time-saving top tips


Tip 1: Import data from PDF to Excel with Excel 365


How to import data from PDF to Excel


Historically, it hasn’t been easy to bring your PDF content into Excel. Older versions require a copy and paste method or the use of an add-in. But the latest version (the subscription version) lets you easily import PDF content from the Get Data & Transform area in the Data menu.

Once you’ve imported your file you can view what’s in your PDF file.

View your PDF file in Excel


When you’ve checked you have the right file, just press Load, and the data will be put into a new sheet in Excel.


Tip 2: Fill from 1 to 10,000


How to fill from 1 to 10,000


This essential Excel tip is a real time-saver. It’s much quicker than manually filling in hundreds or thousands of rows with numbers. Simply choose your preferences and select OK.

How to edit Fill Series in Excel


Tip 3: Status bar metrics


How to customise Status Bar metrics


The Status Bar is the light grey area at the very bottom of Excel, below your tabs/sheets. If you right-click in that space you’ll see a box where you can customise what is shown in your status bar.

Options for customising Status Bar in Excel


Customising your status bar means you can change what you see below the tabs/sheets. For example, you can choose to show the Average for your selected cells. It’s a great alternative to doing using formulas and it’s much quicker.


Tip 4: Worksheet Navigator


How to use the Worksheet Navigator in Excel


If you’re working with a spreadsheet with lots of sheets, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of scrolling through tabs at the bottom. But, if you right-click in the little arrow box at the bottom on the left, an Activate box will pop up and you can see a list of all your sheets.

It’s much easier to select the required sheet from here.

Excel's Activate box lets you view worksheets


Tip 5: Find blank cells with colour


How to find blank cells with a colour


If you have a data set with blank cells it’s good practice to fill these in to avoid any confusion. The good news is there’s an easier way than scrolling through all your data to find your blank cells. Simply use the Special option from the Go To Window.

Selecting Blanks from Special options in Excel


Selecting Blanks highlights the blanks in your data set. With blanks highlighted, you can fill them with a colour. Now it’s a matter of adding a filter so you can filter by colour and for specific columns.

Filtered blank cells by colour


You can now quickly fill in the blank cells with relevant text without having to manually scroll.

For more time-saving tips read 5 Essential Excel tips from John Michaloudis part two. Or you can watch the on-demand webinar where John walks you through all of his essential hints and tips.


How to build interactive content with your Excel skills


John advocates using Excel in conjunction with Squirrel365. Squirrel opens up a world of possibilities, enabling you to build interactive content with your Excel skills.

John has a financial model spreadsheet (from a MyExcelOnline financial modeling course) with various tabs for income, expense, drivers, KPIs… When he makes a change to the drivers sheet, for example, to update the amount of revenue, Excel updates the other sheets.

All good so far, but the frustration comes with the need to check the updates because it requires a bit of back-and-forth which can be slow work.


A better way

With Squirrel365 you can take your data and create an interactive dashboard.

John says:

You can create things in Squirrel without a need for advanced Excel skills (which you would need if you were creating it in Excel). In very little time you can produce interactive web content or a dashboard with all your data. And you can do things such as change the revenue and see what happens to the rest of your data.

Squirrel removes the need to scroll between different sheets in Excel and it’s great for doing forecasting budgets. You can improve the usability of a financial model spreadsheet by turning it into an interactive model which is much easier to use and understand.

You can use the sliders to change your revenue and other markers, and see the results on the graph and in the table and KPIs. And you can build your interactive content for PowerPoint or for the web.


Take your Excel skills to the next level

It’s easy to create calculators, dashboards, interactive visualisations, and web apps in Squirrel based purely on the Excel capabilities of spreadsheets like John’s. Visit the Squirrel Showcase to fire up your imagination and see what else you can build in Squirrel.

There is a wide range of how-to videos to get you started in Squirrel, but it all starts with importing your xlsx file.

With Squirrel, you don’t leave Excel behind, you bring it with you, leveraging your existing knowledge. You can make changes to your data and formulas as you go which you can then export back out so you have the latest version.

Once you’ve imported your spreadsheet it’s a matter of dragging and dropping components (charts, diagrams…) onto the canvas, customising them, and binding them to your data.

Customising components in Squirrel365

Once your data is in a chart, remarkable things can happen.

If you add a slider to your canvas, and bind it to a spreadsheet driver such as revenue growth, when you slide the slider back and forth to change the revenue it changes the output in the chart — you just bind the component to the spreadsheet logic to see the different outputs. It’s as simple as that.

You can custom format all of your charts and components and do things like bind your text in a Text Label to a colour specified in a cell in your spreadsheet.

Or you can set a KPI to change colour depending on the formula you’ve given to your data. For example, you can tell Squirrel to make the KPI red if the user moves a slider to a numeric value below a certain percentage, or green if above it.

All this dynamic interactivity comes directly from the data in your spreadsheet.

Sharing your interactive content

Publishing your projects up to the cloud is easy with Squirrel’s Project manager. And it’s immediately available to embed into PowerPoint or share as a web link.

The Squirrel add-in for PowerPoint lets you take the project ID from Squirrel, put it into PowerPoint, and then interact with the project as you would in Squirrel. So you can share the link, embed in Teams, or put it on your website. There is an enormous amount of capability in terms of what you can create and how you share it.

Why not try Squirrel out for yourself! Sign up for free and see what you can do with your spreadsheet skills.

The PWA Hokey Pokey

The PWA Hokey Pokey

Read about he future trajectory of PWAs for Squirrel365 and the rollercoaster ride with Apple and the EU Digital Markets Act.