Today I discovered an easily overlooked feature of Excel, and I felt like a little kid finding treasure in the backyard. I literally jumped with joy! It is called “slicers”. Have you ever used it? Slicers is a special kind of filtering. One can say it is filtering in fast-forward. However, you will not find it in the Sort & Filter group, as it is a sub feature of Tables.
To use slicers you need to understand filtering. I mentioned filtering in Issue 57 but here is a quick recap: To activate filtering, click somewhere within your data first. Now select the filter icon, located on the DATA tab, in the Sort & Filter group. You will notice little arrows appearing next to your data labels. Clicking on these arrows allows you to filter your results. For example, you may want to see only employees in the Procurement Department, or staff members over fifty. Slicers will make filtering even easier.
You may think that tables is an MS Word feature, or that every Excel range is also a table. Not so! Tables are ranges that are automatically styled and filtered, and they have the added bonus of special features.
A range can be converted to a table like this: Select the range that will be converted. On the INSERT tab, in the Tables group, click on the Table icon. The data range will now have a style as well as filter arrows. Note the new tab that appeared on the ribbon! It is called TABLE TOOLS: DESIGN and it contains more options specific to Excel data tables.
To convert a table back to a range, click on the table and open the TABLE TOOLS: DESIGN tab. Within the TOOLS group, locate the Convert to Range icon.
To add slicers, you need to first have a table in place. Make sure that you click within the table area, so that the TABLE TOOLS: DESIGN tab will be available. (If the active cell is placed outside of the table range, this tab will not appear on the ribbon). Then, in the TOOLS group, click on the Insert Slicer icon.
A small window with a list of your labels will pop up. Simply tick the labels that you are most likely to run filters on, and click OK. The little windows can then be moved around or resized. There will also be a new tab called SLICER TOOLS: OPTIONS which will be available whenever one of the slicer windows are selected.
Test the slicers, and don’t even try to contain your excitement, as this is really a very cool feature!
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