Thursday, February 9, 2012

Excel 2010: Why should I use "Format as Table" command when my table is already there?

Yesterday I introduced filtering, but warned you not to use the sort command when you use filtering in your header row (unless you highlight your whole spreadsheet first).  Today, I’ll show you the best way to sort your data AFTER you format it as an Excel table.

Most of our data in Excel is viewed as a table whether or not it is formatted that way.  When you use the "Format as Table" command, Excel looks at your data differently.  Sometimes adding or deleting data in a table can be stormy, but manipulating what is already there is a breeze.

Yesterday, we created a dog breed spreadsheet.  If you saved it yesterday, you will need to remove the filters we created.  Open the spreadsheet.  Remove the filters by following the same steps we used to turn them on.  Click on Row 1.  From the Home ribbon, Editing section, click on the Sort & Filter icon, then pull down Filter.

Now the little down triangles will disappear, and our spreadsheet looks how it did when we started.  You must always remove any filters before doing "Format as Table;"  Excel will not perform the command with Filters (try it and see).

If you did not create the dog breed spreadsheet yet, you may copy and paste the data from below.  I would recommend doing yesterday's filtering lesson before you proceed.

When your dogs are ready, drag through the whole spreadsheet, starting with the left side of the heading row and going down to the bottom right corner.  (Did you know that Standard Poodles came from Germany, not France?)
On the Home ribbon, Style section, click on “Format as Table.”  There are many different colors and formats to choose from – use the one that is easiest on your eyes or your favorite color.  We can change it later, so try something daring.  After you select a scheme, a window will appear showing your range (the cells you want in your entire table), and asking if your table has headers.  Headers means column titles.  Ours does, so click OK.

Here’s my newly formatted table:

I can now filter the x’s as we did yesterday, but I can also sort.  Click on the down triangle in the Dog Breed cell.  I can either select certain breeds or sort A to Z or Z to A.  Click on the Max Size Inches triangle and I can pick specific heights or sort smallest to largest or largest to smallest.  Let’s select only the dog breeds which originated in Germany.  Then sort them by size.  In the next lesson, we'll let Excel count our filtered data.

Sample Spreadsheet to Copy & Paste into Excel:
Dog Breed Short Long Wired Curly Max Size Inches Country of Origin
Belgian Shepherd x x
x 26 Belgium
Boxer x

25 Germany
Chihuahua x x

9 Mexico
Dachshund x x x
15 Germany
Flat Coated Retriever

24 England
Fox Terrier x
15 England
German Shepherd x x

26 Germany
Irish Wolfhound
x x
32 Ireland
Labrador Retriever x

24 Canada

10 Greece
Portugeuse Water Dog
x 23 Portugal
Shetland Sheepdog

16 Scotland
Standard Poodle
x 21 Germany

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