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Laborless tables in Excel®

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in The Office Tech Pro

If someone asked you what a table was (in data speak), you would likely respond with something like a set of data presented in columns in rows. You might add that it must contain some way to reference that information, such as column titles or row labels. When Excel® 2007 says tables it means a very specific way of formatting data that not only visually arranges into a tabular format, but gives you tools that let you work with that data easily.

There are two ways to turn your data into an Excel® table. First select the data. Then, either:

1. Click on the Insert tab and the Table group button in the Tables group, or
2. From the Home tab and the Styles group, choose the Format as a Table button.

You will notice three things that are signs your data has been converted to a table.

1. First, you’ll notice drop-down arrows at the top of each column. If you’ve used filters before you’ll recognize these. If not, these arrows allow you to to filter your data by critieria in one or more columns.
2. You’ll also notice a little notch at the bottom right of your data, letting you know that it can expand by table rows and table columns that inherit characteristics and operability.
3. Looking in the upper right of the Ribbon, you’ll notice a Table Tools contextual tab.

Click the More button on the Table Styles gallery to get exactly the look and functionality you need. Experiment with the check boxes in the Table Style Options group on the Table Tools- Design tab.

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My favorite feature is the the Totals row. Click this on, and click into the new Totals row at the bottom. You can select the type of total you want at the bottom of each column. Hitting tab on the last data row of your table will give a new row for data input and automatically include it in the table row.

If you find that the table format is no longer serving you, you’ll notice a Convert to Range button on the Design tab and in the Tools group.

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