Q & A with John Walkenbach, author of Excel 2013 Bible
My first spreadsheet experience was using VisiCalc, running on an Apple II computer owned by my employer. I eventually saved up and bought my own IBM-PC, and started using Lotus 1-2-3. At some point, probably around 1988, I tried out Excel, which included a run-time version of Windows. I thought the graphic user interface was just a gimmick, and I much preferred 1-2-3. But by Version 4 (released in 1992), I was hooked on Excel, and preferred it to the competitors. So, to answer your question . . . about 25 years.How has Excel changed the way people do business?
Among other ways, it puts data in the hands of users, and makes it easy to slice and dice information. People can run their own ad-hoc reports, and not have to rely on others to provide information.Any advice for new Excel users?
Be curious and don't be afraid to experiment. The Ribbon has hundreds of commands, and it's worth the time to dig around and see what they do. If you find something that seems useful, just work with it until you understand how it works. And, master the art of searching the web. There are countless Excel questions that have already been asked and answered.What is your favorite Excel 2013 feature?
Well, my favorite Excel feature, by far, is pivot tables. But if you're asking about features new to Excel 2013, it would have to be Flash Fill. It uses pattern recognition to transform a column of data (no formulas required). For example, you can use Flash Fill to extract last names from a column of names. It also works in the opposite direction, so you can combine multiple columns using Flash Fill. It’s not perfect, and it sometimes fails to identify some patterns so you need to check the results carefully. But, I expect to see this feature improved in future versions.What do you like most about writing about Excel?
It's when I first install the beta of a new version. It's always fun to see what's new and different. And, of course, I like the fact that I get very long vacations in between revisions.What is your all-time best Excel tip?
It's impossible to come up with one, but if forced to reply, I'd have to say it's the multi-cell array formula that I developed. This formula is entered into a 6-row x 7-column range of cells and displays a monthly calendar. The formula uses a cell that contains a date and updates when that date cell is changed.What can you do with Excel that might surprise people?
You can actually earn a living by writing about it!
But seriously, Excel is such a flexible product, there is almost no limit to what it can do. Even I'm surprised by some of the things I see. For example, I've seen some amazing games that run in Excel. And I've also seen some charts that I would have thought to be impossible. As the saying goes, it's limited only by your creativity--and there are some very creative Excel users out there.
From the Back Cover
Excel at Excel with this ultimate guide
Whether you want to create charts, import and clean data, automate tasks with VBA macros, or work in the cloudhowever you want to use Excel, John Walkenbach can show you how. Fully updated for the latest features in Excel 2013, this perennial bestseller is packed with information, techniques, helpful notes, and tips to take your spreadsheet skills to the next level. Beginner, power user, or somewhere in between, this is the ultimate Excel resource you'll turn to again and again.
- Get up to speed on everything new in Excel 2013
- Review Excel basicsworksheets, formulas, functions, and charts
- Learn to handle data in many ways, including importing, cleaning, and analyzing
- Master useful Excel tools, such as Sparklines, Flash Fill, and Analysis ToolPak
- Discover the power of Excel's ultimate analysis toolpivot tables
- Create VBA macros, add controls, and work with Excel events
- Slice and dice your data to identify trends and patterns
- Work your way through sample workbooks and take advantage of downloadable templates on the companion website
Use formulas and functions to create useful forms
Learn which chart is most suitable for your data
Pivot table slicers make it easy to filter data