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Office Tips & Tricks: Using Filters in Excel

Use Excel Filters to Make Short Work of Long Columns

Filters are a powerful tool in Excel that let you mask information from your view. For example, filters can be used to only show you the rows that have Widgets as the item type or only show you rows that have blank cells in a particular column.
For filters to work properly, your range of cells needs to have a column heading (a label at the top of each column). You turn on filters by clicking inside your range and then choosing Home > Sort & Filter > Filter. Voila, a drop down arrow appears next to each column heading. Clicking on any column’s drop down arrow provides a list of all entries in the column. Selecting any entry causes Excel to show only the rows that match that entry.
Note that on the drop-down menu there are additional filters that can be applied, depending on what type of data is in the column. You may see Text Filters or Number Filters or Data Filters. From those drop-downs you can select additional filters to change what’s displayed even more.
After you have chosen a particular entry to be filtered, the drop-down arrow on that column changes its icon. To restore the view of all entries, click the drop-down and check Select All or click on Home > Sort & Filters > Filter to turn them off completely.
More than one column can be filtered at a time, but they are cumulative. The second filter will not overwrite the results of the first filter. It instead restricts it further it. Excel’s basic filter works as an AND statement. You can create more complex filters using the Advanced Filter option. Advanced Filter allows you to filter using AND OR statements.
Filters can make working with your Excel data easier and faster. Give them a try.


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