Category Archives: Excel 2013

Why You Should Learn Excel!

Click on the YouTube video below to listen to the song that was created by University of Texas Professor Clint Tuttle and get an entertaining, enlightening serenade on why you should learn Microsoft Excel.

According to a 2015 U.S. News & World Report article, “If you want a better job, master Excel.”

Middle-skill Jobs—those jobs that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree—are considered the jobs that have long been associated with middle income wage earners. For example, jobs such as office and administrative assistants as well as managerial positions in industry, communications, retail, healthcare, and other major sectors want their employees to be proficient in spreadsheets—Excel.

In fact the demand for digital proficiency for these middle-skill jobs has only grown over time and will continue to grow. You can read more about these jobs by clicking this link to read the 2015 report (PDF file) prepared by Capital One Financial Corporation and Burning Glass Technologies.

Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy Professor Tuttle’s musical message—it’s the truth, folks!

GET DIGITALLY PREPARED TODAY by taking an Excel class or other Microsoft Office productivity software classes—Word, PowerPoint, Access, and Publisher—through Richland College’s BOSS Program. The Microsoft Office 2016 version and Windows 10 will be offered this coming fall!

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams.

DYK–if you take a DCCCD class, you are eligible for a free download of the latest Microsoft Office 365 version? You can use your MS Office software on up to 5 devices!

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information on BOSS class offerings, please call 972-238-6215 or email Angela Nino at

Calculations Quickly!

Here’s a quick but very useful Excel tip.  It is especially helpful when performing calculations on lengthy columns. 

Excel Tip

Give this tip a try to see if you like this method better than dragging the fill handle down, which is the method used by many who work with Excel daily.  It is easy and very fast!

For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Angela Nino, Lead Faculty,, 972-238-6382.


Let MS Office 2013 Custom Apps Help You Increase Your Productivity!


timing concept

Did you know there is much more you can do to enhance your experiences with the Microsoft Office 2013 Suite than what is already included in Word? Excel? PowerPoint? or Outlook? While the applications within the Suite are literally crammed with tons of powerful features, there additional ways (through add-ins) that you can customize your specific office needs even further, which can save you time and effort. These apps range from

  1. Converting PDF files to text (recognizes text in six different languages).
  2. Generating a tag cloud of text from a Word document.
  3. Sending fax documents without leaving Word.
  4. Searching the web via Google within Word, Excel, or PowerPoint—no need to toggle back and forth between your Office applications and your web browser.
  5. Creating a graphical idea map from any of the Office applications.
  6. Converting the case of your text in Excel files quickly—This can be a life saver if you are importing information into Excel from a variety of sources because it saves you time and energy by not having to make “hand edits” that are slow and manual.
  7. Creating Excel data as a “heat map” – provides a visual of data for the United States and is color coded.
  8. Previewing hyperlinks from Outlook email messages—helps to prevent messages sent that contain broken links.
  9. Integrating key information from LinkedIn from your profile with Outlook—can help with your networking capabilities.
  10. Sending Direct Messages from Outlook to Twitter.

Vangie Beal previewed a total of 30 MS Office apps that can help you increase your productivity and efficiency, but there are many others that have been added that may fit your needs also.

Many of the apps are free, while others may have a one-time charge or a subscription fee. If you see any that can help you, simply click this link to go to and then “shop until you drop”!

P.S. I just found another app (for Excel) that can be very engaging when you are trying to transform data to a simple graphic quickly and easily. It’s free, it’s easy, and the name is Bubbles—try it, you might like it!

Take a look at the sample screen shot below.

06-29-2015 Bubbles App

If you want to learn new software or if you need to update your software skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**), office procedures, etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, at 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.


How to Insert Checkboxes in an Excel 2013 Spreadsheet

Follow the link below to learn how to insert checkboxes on an Excel spreadsheet.  In the article, Bilal Ibrar discusses how to insert checkboxes and shares several examples of how you might use these checkboxes when designing an Excel spreadsheet.

The post is located on a blog called Write A Writing.  Please click the link on Write A Writing to learn more about using this Excel feature.

This is not a task that you will use on a daily basis in Excel; however, it may come in handy one of these days!


For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, or 972-238-6215.

Using the Data Validation Feature in Excel  

Have you ever wished for a way to limit the data in an Excel cell to match certain parameters?  If so, the Data Validation feature located under the Data tab in the Data Tools group is for you!  It is a feature that is simple to use and offers several options.

Let’s say that the name of your column in Excel is Paid and the correct response in the cells of this column is either Yes or No.  To limit the values for this column to either Yes or No, do the following:

Select the cells you wish to limit to a value of either Yes or No.  Click the DATA tab; in the Data Tools Group click the Data Validation button.  The dialog box shown below will open.  Click the down arrow in the Allow text box and choose List.  Click in the Source box and type Yes, No as shown below.  This will limit the data input for the selected cells to accepting only Yes or No in the cell.

Validation Yes No box

The cells to which the validation is applied will also have a drop down arrow allowing the user to select either Yes or No from the drop down list when the cell is selected.

If you click the Input Message tab, you may enter a short message telling the user the values that may be entered in the selected cell.  When one of the restricted cells is selected, the message you see at left will appear.

Validation Message

Could it be any easier?


For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support (BOSS) department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

Excel Formula Problems? Try These Troubleshooting Tips!

Ribbon with FBWhen you work with formulas in Microsoft Excel, there are sometimes some glitches. Excel is good about letting you know when there is an error and even offering some help. The Error Checking feature on the Formulas tab in the Formula Auditing Group will find errors such as Divide by zero errors or errors in cell references (#VALUE!) where a cell referenced in the formula does not contain a number.

Also in the Formula Auditing group are the Trace Precedents, Trace Dependents, and Remove Arrows buttons. The Trace Precedents button shows arrows that indicate which cells affect the value of the currently selected cell. The Trace Dependents button show arrows that indicate which cells are affected by the value of the currently selected cell. The Remove Arrows button removes the arrows drawn by the Trace Precedents and Trace Dependent buttons. These buttons are very helpful when determining incorrect cell references in formulas.

However, with especially long formulas, it is sometimes necessary to examine small parts of the formula at a time to figure out the problem. You may use your mouse pointer to look at only a certain part of a formula and press F9 to evaluate just that section. Press Esc to go back and keep searching. The Evaluate Formula button on the Formula Auditing group will also allow you to examine small parts of a long formula.

Another common problem in Excel formulas is a circular reference. A circular reference in an Excel formula is one that depends on its own value. The most common type of circular reference occurs when you mistakenly refer in the formula to the cell in which you are building the formula itself. For example, suppose that cell B10 is active when you build this formula,  =A10+B10.   As soon as you enter this formula in cell B10 (assuming the program is in Automatic recalculation mode), Excel displays an Alert dialog box, stating that it cannot calculate the formula due to the circular reference.

Do not forget, too, that by clicking the down arrow at the right end of the formula bar you can expand the size of the formula bar to include more than one line. Use these tips to become an expert in troubleshooting Excel formula problems—something that we all encounter when using Excel’s powerful calculation features!

For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

Did Your Ribbon Disappear?

One of the new features introduced in Office 2007 was the Ribbon interface.  The Ribbon is still a vital part of Office 2010 and the newest version, Office 2013.

Some users become very frustrated because suddenly as they are hurriedly completing a task the buttons on the Ribbon are no longer visible and all that can be seen are the tabs across the top of the Ribbon, for example in Microsoft Word 2013, Home, Insert, Design, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review,  and View.  You might call this the “mystery of the missing buttons,” which can be most annoying to the user.


Ribbon with Only Tabs Displayed

The cause of the problem and its solution are, however, very simple.  We have all become very accustomed to double clicking the left mouse button to issue a command.  However, if you double click a tab on the Ribbon, it hides the buttons on the Ribbon.  How do you get those buttons to reappear?  Simply double click any tab again, and, magically, everything is back as it should be!


For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

Microsoft Certification

bossMicrosoftOfficeSpecialistDo you have a job that uses Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, or PowerPoint? Have you been job hunting and continue to run across Word, PowerPoint and Excel on job descriptions?

Becoming Microsoft certified in Word, Excel, Access, Outlook or PowerPoint could improve your resume. You might want to think about adding one (or several) Microsoft Office Specialist certificates to your list of accomplishments.

We might think we know Microsoft Excel or Word, even at an advanced level. Have you ever started a job or project and realized that you don’t know the software like you need to?

Why not back up your skills with a world recognized certificate from Microsoft. Just studying and preparing for the exam can help you learn more about the software.

If you are interested in taking one of the certification exams, start at the Certiport website. ( They administer the Microsoft exams. Richland College is a certified testing center. We have classes that can help you prepare. Give us a call: 972-238-6215!

Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses. For more information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, 972-238-6215.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2013***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a free version of Microsoft Office 2013 Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.

The VLOOKUP Function (A Mystery to Many Excel Users)

by Meggen Mills

The VLOOKUP Function is one of the most useful functions in Excel.  It is also one of the most confusing and least understood functions.  This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the VLOOKUP function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Excel.


You can use the VLOOKUP function to search the first column of a range of cells, and then return a value from any cell on the same row of the range.


You are a new employee in the Benefits department of a large company with over 2500 employees.

Suppose your department has just sent a notice to selected company employees (approximately 750 employees) notifying them that they still have  vacation days available this year, and your boss has asked you to determine the department these selected employees work in. The only problem is that the notice you sent did not ask for their department; you only know their Name and Employee ID number. Continue reading

Work Smarter with Excel Shortcuts

flikr-work-smarterWe all want to find a way to work more efficiently. For me, that involves knowing some ways to shorten my tasks in Excel, since I seem to use that frequently. Here are a couple of keyboard shortcuts that help me out.

The first is using the F9 key with formulas. When creating the formula, you can hit the F9 key and the formula will display actual values instead of the cell references. For example, type numbers in a few cells and use the Sum function button to create a simple Sum formula. Press the F9 key and you will see the actual values it is using in the formula instead of the cell references.

The second shortcut involves formulas, too. When I am debugging a worksheet, I sometimes want to highlight the cells that are referenced in a formula. To do this, I click on the cell with the formula and press Ctrl-[ (that’s Ctrl-open-square-bracket key just to the right of the P key). Excel highlights all the cells referenced by the formula, and moves to the first of the referenced cells.


For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean,, 972-238-6215.