How To Summarize Data in Excel: Top 10 Ways

Top 10 Ways To Summarize Data in Excel

You’ve got some data in Excel, and you want to quickly summarize it. There’s not much time, and your client or boss needs information right away.

Apply any of these Top 10 Techniques to Summarize Data Quickly with in-built Excel Functions and Features.

You’ll get instant results to satisfy most requirements fast.

Microsoft Excel is the most popular software in the world, used for data entry, analysis and summarization of data quickly and easily. And that’s because using Excel has become the easiest way to quickly analyze data. Several summary functions, powerful features & methods are available for your use within Microsoft Excel, right out of the box. Learn them, and your data analysis will become a breeze.

Here are the Top 10 Ways to Summarize Data in Excel Quickly

Top 10 Ways To Summarize Data in Excel

These data analysis & summarization tips will work in Microsoft Excel 365, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, Excel 2007 & even Excel 2003. Further, they work on Excel for Windows as well as Microsoft Excel running on a Mac.

These Data Summarization Tips are listed in the order of the easiest to implement to the ones that need a bit more time. Some of the more complex data summarization methods will actually add more value to your data analysis.

  1. Get The Data Ready For Summarization
  2. Quick Summary With Auto Functions
  3. Fast Analysis With Sort & Filter
  4. Summarize Data With SubTotal Feature
  5. Summarize Data With an Excel Table
  6. Using Slicers to Summarize by different dimensions
  7. Summarize With Excel Pivot Tables
  8. Summarize Data With Excel Functions
  9. Advanced Excel Functions for Summarizing Data
  10. Summarize With Descriptive Statistics From Analysis Toolpak

You can apply the different ways to summarize data based on your familiarity with Excel.

The easiest methods of summarization are listed in the beginning.

And the Pivot Table technique is one of my favorite for a quick and dirty data summarization within Microsoft Excel. It always begins to give me numerous insights into the data.

Let’s get started in exploring the different methods of summarizing data.

1. Get The Data Ready For Summarization

Before you begin your summarization, it is important to make sure that your original data is in a good shape.

Duplicate, a blank cell or missing values can often spoil your data summarization.

You need to make sure that the data range is correctly setup before you begin to analyze the data. Also, ensure there is no blank columns in between adjacent cells.

Clean Excel Data Before You Summarize it

Ensure Proper Column Headings.

For each column, make sure that you have a short and unique column heading. Don’t leave any column without a heading, even though it may be obvious. Column Heading will make it easy to analyze data with any tool in Excel. This way the top row becomes the Header row.

Remove any Duplicates.

Duplicate rows can often sneak in from the data capture sources. So whether you capture data from the Web, or SalesForce, SAP or load from Text or CSV files, the first thing is to clean up the duplicates. To remove duplicates, click within the data range, and go to the Data Menu.

Data > Remove Duplicates.

That’s it, your data will now be cleaner.

Get Rid of Blank Rows:

While blank rows make the data look more readable and easier, it is a bane for data analysis. We do not want blanks to sneak in and skew our averages and other statistical calculations. By sorting the data with the different column headings, the blanks will get separated either to the top or to the bottom. Then you can simply delete these rows, if they do not contain any other data points.

Don’t leave blank cells as blanks, specially if there is no value.

It is better to have a 0 than a blank value in any cell. For text column, if the value is not known, it is better to have a NA (Not Available) showing up.

Having the data cleaned up is the first step in any data analysis. Now you can begin to apply the various data summarization methods.

 

2. Quick Summary With Auto Functions

The fastest way to summarize data is to calculate the Totals, count the number of entries, find out the average value, and figure out the highest and lowest values.

These 5 functions provide the vital stats of the data. These are the most basic and essential functions… just like a visit to a doctor starts with the nurse checking your vitals – height, weight and blood pressure.

Quick Summary of Excel Data With Auto Functions

These 5 numbers will provide a quick summary of your data. Here’s how to do this.

Here’s How To Create a Summary Section on Top of Your Data

Calculate SUM: Click on Autosum icon on the Home tab of Microsoft Office to activate the Sum function of Excel. Then select the data range of the column you want to summarize. Here’s an example:

Calculate COUNT: Click on the drop-down icon on the Autosum button on the Home tab of Microsoft Excel. Choose Count from the list. Then select the data range of the column you want to count. You can use the count function only for numeric columns like Salary, Sales, Quantity etc. using this function. So don’t try this on a text column like Country or Department.

Calculate AVERAGE: Click on the drop-down icon on the Autosum button on the Home tab of Microsoft Excel. Choose Average from the list. Then select the data range of the column you want to Average. You can only average the numeric columns like Quantity, Profit, ROI etc. using this function. Here’s an example:

Calculate Highest Values: Click on the drop down icon on the Autosum button on the Home tab of Microsoft Excel. Choose Maximum from the list. Then select the data range of the column you want to choose for picking up the highest value. You can only pick numeric columns like Quantity, Profit, ROI etc. using this function. Here’s an example:

Calculate Lowest Values: Click on the drop down icon on the Autosum button on the Home tab of Microsoft Excel. Choose Minimum from the list. Then select the data range of the column you want to choose for picking up the lowest value. You can only pick numeric columns like Quantity, Profit, ROI etc. using this function.

Calculating the Sum, Count, Average, Min & Max are the fastest ways to get started in your journey to view summary data quickly.

 

3. Fast Analysis With Sort & Filter

If you sort the data by any key column like Country, Department, Category, Product, Zone, Area etc., then it becomes super easy to analyze data.

To sort the data on any column, follow these steps. Go to

Home > Sort & Filter > Sort A to Z or Sort Z to A.

This will sort the data in your chosen way (ascending or descending) for the column you are in.

Then click on the Filter icon. This will setup auto filters on top of all column headings. Now when you filter on any column, only values for that column will be visible. Unfiltered values are hidden, and visible data corresponds to the Filter selections.

After you have filtered for any particular selection, you can also highlight any numeric column, and see the summary being displayed at the bottom Excel bar.

At one time, you can see the Sum, Count, Average, Maximum & Minimum values from the selected range.

Use Sorting & Filtering With Excel Data

Now you can begin to summarize data for any selection, the way you want it.

 

4. Summarize Data With Subtotal Command:

If the data is already sorted, you are now ready to explore the Subtotal feature of Excel. This hidden gem has been languishing in Excel since the early 1990s, and very few people use it.

To add subtotals to your summary, first clear all filters. And then Sort on the column that you want to add subtotal for.

The Subtotal feature is available on the Data tab of Excel.

Using SubTotal in Excel To Summarize Data Fast

Go to Data > Subtotal.

Choose the function to perform (Sum, count, average etc), for the numeric column, and group by the desired column.

As an example, to get the subtotals of number of employees by each department, it should say: At each change in Department, Count, number of Employees.

Using Subtotal to Summarize Data in Excel
Using Subtotal to Summarize Data in Excel

Click OK, and you should see the subtotal rows from the data in Excel. At the end, you will also see the Grand Totals calculated.

Result of Subtotal Command in Excel
Results of Performing a Subtotal in Excel

You can clear the subtotals, and perform the subtotals again at any time. To clear the subtotals, go to Data > Subtotal > Remove All. The subtotals and the Grand total row are all removed completely.

 

5. Summarize Data With an Excel Table

Microsoft Excel 2007 brought a new feature called Tables, which are amazing at doing simple summarization from a table of data.

To begin, stay within the data range on the Excel sheet. Then click

Home > Format as Table.

Select any color you prefer, and click OK. Excel automatically recognizes that the data selection has headers or not.

Now you have a new tab added to the Excel menu, at the end. It is called Table Design.

Convert To Excel Tables For a Quick Analysis

Select it, and check the Total Row checkbox. Now you have a additional total row added at the bottom of the data. Every column on the total row is a total calculator. Simply click on the dropdown showing in the total row cells, and choose an appropriate summarization – sum, count or average. Now that column will show a total sum or total count or total average of that column.

The great thing is that now if you filter the list, the totals will change dynamically. No need to call the Subtotal function every time. This technique of data summarization is better than the manual methods of subtotal.

Result of Table Counts in Excel
Results of Total Row in a Excel Table

Begin using the Table features if you haven’t done so already.

 

6. Using Slicers to Summarize by different dimensions

Beginning Excel 2010, Microsoft added the Slicers functionality which takes the Tables to greater heights.

Instead of filtering each column one by one, you can now create a slice of the data from the Excel spreadsheet at any time.

Go to Table Design > Insert Slicer > Pick the column of your choice that you want to filter on.

Use Slicers to Dice the Data Anyway in Excel

Now you can click on any value in the slicer, and the data is instantly filtered. You can make multiple selections, by holding the control key.

And more than 1 slicers can be added, giving you multiple combinations of slices. The total row updates automatically as each selection is made. This is truly slice and dice of data, allowing you to summarize data in Excel spreadsheets just by using a mouse. No formulas or lengthy steps involved.

 

7. Summarize With Excel Pivot Tables

Pivot tables have been in Excel for over 30 years. They are the most used feature of Excel, as it allows for business analysts & managers to manipulate and analyze data in countless better ways.

A pivot table is actually a summary table, which allows you to slice and dice the data by different dimensions.

Using Pivot Tables for Excel Data Analysis

Pivot tables are easy to get started with.

To create a pivot table, Stay within your dataset. Then go to Insert > Pivot Table. The entire dataset is selected. Click OK and a new pivot table is created in a new worksheet by default.

Click on the column that you want to summarize on, from the pivot table field list on the right side of the screen. In our example, we check the Department, and Sales amount from the field list. Instantly, the total sales per department is calculated and populated in the pivot table on the left. Notice that Excel generates a unique list of Department, without any duplicates.

To visualize both Sum & Count of the data points, you can drag one more copy of the Sales into the Values Area section. Then right click on the value, and choose

Summarize Values by > Count.

Similarly, you can change the calculation type, and pick up Average, Max, Min. This way, you can have all the vital statistics about your data summarized by each department.

Additionally, to see the percentage of sales done by each department,

Right Click on any numeric value in the pivot table, and choose Show Value As > % of Grand Total.

This will instantly calculate the % of contribution done by each department. The grand total will show 100% of the sales.

It is a good idea to sort the % of Grand Total value from highest to lowest by value, showing the highest values on the top.

You can then add a further selection in the rows or column, to get a 3D view of your data. As you can see, Pivot Table is a powerful tool that can get the analysis done the fastest!

As you learn more about the Pivot Tables, you’ll realize that they can be used to summarize data from a single worksheet or multiple worksheets. A pivot can even summarize data from multiple workbooks too. This is a must learn feature of Microsoft Excel. You can attend an Advanced Excel Training in Singapore at Intellisoft, where I teach this class.

 

8. Summarize Data With Excel Functions

Use Excel Functions to Summarize Information

To get the most flexibility, you can actually write your own summary functions within Excel, by using the following formulas.

We have already covered the Autosum features of Excel which generate the Sum, Count & Average. Now we will look at the how to write these function manually.

To Sum a range of data, use =SUM(range) in the formula bar.

To Count a range of numeric data cells, use =COUNT(range). This generates a numeric count.

To count a range of alpha-numeric data cells, use =COUNTA(range). COUNTA can be used to count both numeric and non-numeric data.

To find the average of any data, use =AVERAGE(range).

 

9. Advanced Excel Functions for Summarizing Data

The real power of Excel functions is when you go beyond the basic summary functions, and do some advanced data analysis.

Advanced SUMIF Functions to Summarize DataYou can use the following Excel formulas

Sum the data conditionally. For example, if we want to summarize the monthly sales only for a particular country, we can use the Excel Sumif function:

=SUMIF(country data range, select_country, monthly sales data range)

Similarly, to count the number of products sold by a country, we can count by using the COUNTIF function of Excel

=COUNTIF(country data range, select_country, monthly sales data range)

And average sales per country can be analyzed by using the following formula of AVERAGEIF.

=AVERAGEIF(country data range, select_country, monthly sales data range)

For multiple if conditions, you can use the sumifs function to summarize data by your chosen selection. These functions can really cut down your data analysis time when you have large amounts of data to summarize.

 

10. Summarize With Descriptive Statistics From Analysis Toolpack

Finally, Microsoft Excel has the Data Analysis Toolpak, a hidden Statistical Analysis tool, that can calculate the Median, Standard Deviation, Variance, Analysis of variance (ANOVA), and much more in a single click.

To enable the Data Analysis feature in Excel, you must go to

File > Options > Add Ins.

Then select the Data Analysis ToolPak if it is inactive. You might have to click on the Go button at the bottom. Choose the Toolpak, and click OK. This will add a Data Analysis button on the Data tab of Excel, at the end. Check it out. Once this button is enabled, it stay active, and you can use it subsequently anytime.

Using Descriptive Statistics

To use this Data Analysis ToolPak, go to

Data Analysis > Descriptive Statistics.

Select the Entire numeric column that you want to analyze in the Input Range. Check the Labels in First Row checkbox if your data has a header.

Then check the output box radio button, and key in a cell address where you want the summary statistics to be generated. Check Summary Statistics, and click OK.

Analysis Toolpack To Summarize Data With Excel

The full descriptive statistics are displayed instantly. This final result is a detailed Statistical Analysis of your data.

Descriptive Statistics Result from Analysis Toolpak
Descriptive Statistics Result from Analysis Toolpak

Multiple Ways to Summarize Data in Excel – Conclusion

There are so many different ways to summarize data in Excel. Mastering them will improve your data analysis skills, and you will on your way to huge success, by taking action on the insights gleaned from your data analysis.

Recap of Top 10 Ways to Summarize Data with Excel

Go ahead and try them out.

Each technique is a gem, and adds to your skills in Excel data analysis.

Cheers,
Vinai Prakash

About Vinai Prakash: Vinai is a prolific speaker, author, entrepreneur and coach on the topics of Data Analytics, Project Management, Advanced Excel Techniques, SQL, Python, Data Visualization with Power BI & Creating of Excel Dashboard and several other soft skills. He is one of the Best Trainers for Data Analytics Training, and is highly sought after for his advice. Contact Vinai for your next Data Analysis Training.

Extracting Text From Variable Length Strings

After I wrote about how to extract characters from the left, right or middle of a text string in Excel, I received a few inquiries about extracting text from strings which don’t seem to have a fixed size, and vary in length.

For example, if the data is something like this

HQ-1022-PORT
LONDON-4053-LANDED
HOUSTON-2488-WEST
SINGAPORE-3133-LEEDON

You want to separate out the first word (HQ, LONDON, HOUSTON, SINGAPORE etc.)

Can’t Use LEFT Function
You can’t use a LEFT function, because a left function needs to know the number of characters you want to extract. And this itself is variable… There are 2 characters in HQ, 6 in London, 7 in Houston etc.

One of the ways I have discovered is to find the location of the first Hyphen (-), and extract all characters from the left of it.

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Finding the location of the First Hyphen
We can use the FIND function to find the location of the first hyphen.

If A2 contains HQ-1022-PORT, we can use the formula as:

=FIND(“-“,A2)

The answer would be 3. This means that the hyphen is the third character in the string. This is perfect. Now we know that we need n-1, that means 3-1, which is 2. We need 2 characters from the Left of this number.

So we can write another formula as

=LEFT(A2,  FIND(“-“,A2)-1 )

The resulting answer would be HQ. Copy the formula down to other cells, and you should be able to extract HOUSTON, SINGAPORE etc. without much hassle, and without having to write another, different formula.

One size fits all formula to extract a variable length string from a piece of text. And pretty easily too!

Do you have any other method? How would you solve this challenge?

Please post your answers in the comments below.

Cheers,
Vinai Prakash

P.S. – I am teaching a 2 day course on Data Interpretation & Analysis in Singapore on Feb 9-10, 2015, and another on March 9-10, 2015. If you would like to learn techniques to analyze data and create management reports, you can attend this program.

Awaiting you and your innovative comments below … 🙂 – Vinai

Are you facing any problem in using Excel? Any Question?

You have come to the right place. Tell us your needs. We’ll be glad to help you!

Multiple Ways to Count in Excel

Counting the number of cells containing values, counting number of cells meeting a certain criteria, counting names, counting cells in a range…. you name it, there is a need to count in Excel. And there are multiple ways to count in Excel. Some techniques are more helpful than others, and some can provide unique insights which others can’t produce.

Let’s look at the different ways to count in Excel, and their relative benefits.

1. Count the number of cells with values: The simplest way is to use the inbuilt function Count. Select the cell range, and out comes the cou nt of cells in the range.

Count only works with counting of Numeric information. If you try to count names, you will get a ZERO.

To count alphanumeric values – values with names, categories, text, serial numbers etc., then you must use the variation of Count – called COUNTA. This function is to count Alphanumeric data.

Count of Numbers in a Range, & Count of Names in a Range
Count of Numbers in a Range, & Count of Names in a Range

2. Using a Criteria to Count specific Cells: There are several ways to count the cells that meet a certain criteria. The first method treats the data as a database, and uses the Database Functions within Excel.

=DCOUNT(Database, Field, Criteria)

Count the cells that meet a specific criteria using Dcount
Count the cells that meet a specific criteria using Dcount

Here A4:C12 is the entire data, B4 is the cell column that we want to count, and the criteria is Age should be greater than 30 years (B1:B2) cells.

The answer for this count is 5. See if you got this correct.

The database functions have been existing in Excel since 1995. They treated Excel data as a database like Oracle, Dbase etc. These database functions DSUM, DCOUNT, DAVERAGE etc. are quite useful, and are available for backward compatibility, although the same work can be accomplished by other functions equally well too.

3. Using COUNTIF Function to count cell conditionally. This method evaluates the cells against the condition, and if it matches, it is counted.

=COUNTIF(Cells, criteria)

Count cells that match a condition
Count cells that match a condition

Here, the cells that contain the data is provided first, and the second argument is the criteria. The headings are not really needed. Each cell in the first range is checked against the criteria, and if the criteria matches, the record is counted, otherwise it is ignored.

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And if you have multiple criteria to check for, you can use the COUNTIFS which can take multiple criteria arguments.

CountIFS to count cells with multiple criteria cells.
CountIFS to count cells with multiple criteria cells.

The formula in the picture captures the count of cells that are having age of >30years, and Salary less than $3000. Answer is 3.

So as you can see, there are multiple functions, and ways to count cells in Excel. It depends on whether you want to count numbers or textual data. It also depends if you have conditions or not.

Use these functions to count in multiple ways… Happy counting!

Cheers
Vinai Prakash

Are you facing any problem in using Excel? Any Question?

You have come to the right place. Tell us your needs. We’ll be glad to help you!

Top 10 Time Saving Tips in Using Microsoft Excel

If you are a data warrior, chances are that you use Excel extensively in your day to day work.

And there are many ways to boost productivity within Excel. Use these nifty tricks and improve productivity.

1. View All Formulas in Excel With a Single Click: I wrote about this trick some time back. It allows you to view all the formula with a single click of Control + ` Key. This acts like a toggle key. This can save a lot of time in finding where are the formulas to edit/view them.

2. Clean up Your Data  – Identify the Duplicates, and Remove Duplicates: There is no point in having duplicates in your tables. There are multiple ways to do this. You can identify the duplicates, and then choose to remove them manually,  or you can request Excel to remove the duplicate rows completely, automatically.

3. Colour Alternate Rows and Make it Easier to Read Large Data Sets: Prior to Excel 2007, we used to write formulas to colour alternate rows in Excel. This makes it easier to read the data.

=MOD(ROW(),2)=0

This function would tell us if the row is an even row or an odd row, and then we could colour it.

But since Excel 2007, we can do this in multiple ways. We can convert the data into a table. And in the table options, you can then colour alternate rows or columns as bands.

And then you can also use the formula above, and use conditional formatting.

4. Learn The In-Built Functions in Excel: Many people are amazed at the plethora of in-built functions available in Excel. But you must know that they exist, and also know the syntax to make a good use of them.

5. Learn and Use Pivot Tables Effectively: Pivot tables summarize data quickly. Learn to use them effectively.  Simple techniques like displaying both values and percentages in a Pivot Table adds extra value.

Want to Improve Your Excel Skills?

Learn the Key Features of Excel Quickly & Easily, by Joining the
Online Training on Basic / Intermediate Excel.

To Get Most out of Excel, Learn the  Pivot Table techniques in our
Pivot Table Masterclass Training
!


Similarly, learn to show different grouping for different pivot tables, even though it is based on the same data source. Also, creating a calculated field in a pivot table adds extra value.

If you are new to pivot tables, this introduction on how to analyze data using Excel pivots will be useful.

6. Charting Techniques Can Make People Notice Your Work: Creating nifty charts like the 2 Axis chart, or the PivotChart can be useful in the board room. Learn these techniques. Similarly, using Slicers in Pivot Charts can make dynamic Charts that can wow the audience. They are simple to use.

7. Get Back to Your Selection: Many times you will select or highlight some cells, but then move about the Excel file to find something. Then your are lost. Now you don’t remember where exactly is your selection. Simply click Control + Backspace. It will take you to the highlighted area in a blink!

8. Use Range Names to Refer to Cells: Instead of using G3, C3 or F3, you can give each cell a name. Not only single cells, you can actually define a name for a group of cells too. Then you can refer this group of cells by a particular name.

So instead of saying =G3+C3-F3, you can now calculate Salary as

=Basic_Pay + Allowance – Tax

This is much easier to read, and comprehend. No need to look up where the formulas are coming from, as the names are self evident.

9. Learn Excel Shortcuts: There are hundreds of shortcut combinations in Excel. It is impossible to remember all of them. But you must know a few to really speed up your work. Some of my favorites are:

  • Control N: New workbook
  • Control `: View All Formulas
  • Control Backspace: Jump to selected Cells
  • Alt + F1: Creates a inserts a chart based on the currently selected data as an embedded chart object.
  • Alt + =: Auto sum formula is inserted
  • Ctrl + Shift + Enter: Enter an Array Formula
  • F9: Calculates all the worksheets in all open workbooks

10. Learn to Use Dates Effectively: In Excel, dates are stored as numbers. They can be displayed in a wide variety of Formats. Understand these formats to display them in the way that suits the applications.

Also, you can calculate using dates, for example, you can find the difference between any two dates. You can add a fixed number of days to a date.

Hope you enjoyed these tips, and will use them to improve your productivity in using Excel. Do post a comment below to talk about your favorite tips in Excel.

If you wish, you can get a good book on Excel from the Excel BookStore. These books are usually quite inexpensive, and will give you many ideas to improve too.

Cheers,
Vinai Prakash, PMP, MBA, ITIL, GAP, Six Sigma

Are you facing any problem in using Excel? Any Question?

You have come to the right place. Tell us your needs. We’ll be glad to help you!

P.S.  : You can contact us to conduct a workshop on Excel Tips and Tricks at your office.

And I hope you subscribed to the ExcelChamp Excel Tips Newsletter already. 🙂

Creating a New Calculation in an Excel Pivot Table

Ever since I published the article on how to display both values and percentages in a pivot table & How to Get Running Totals in Pivot Tables, I am getting more and more emails asking about the other features and tricks within Pivot Tables in Microsoft Excel.

One such useful feature is the ability to add a new calculated field, which is not even present in the base data set, but can be derived from the existing fields.

We can call such a field as Adding a New Calculated Field in the Pivot Table. Once added, it is available to you in a pivot table as a regular field, and can be summed, counted, averaged, etc. with ease.

To Add a Calculated Field, go to the Pivot Table Options Menu, and Find the “Fields, Items & Sets” drop down menu in the ribbon.

Calculated Field Menu in Excel 2010, Excel 2013
Calculated Field Menu in Excel 2010, Excel 2013

Click and select the Calculated Field from the drop down menu.

Type a field name in the Name: field.

We will key in the formula in the next blank cell. Do note that Excel already provides you with a Zero there. You need to remove the Zero first. And then begin to type your formula.

Calculated Field in Excel Pivot Table
Calculated Field in Excel – Popup Screen

Want to Improve Your Excel Skills?

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All the existing Fields are listed in the Field List below the formula.

Let’s say we have to calculate Bonus, which is 10% of the Sales Commission.

So the field Name we would give would be called Bonus.

The Formula would be =Sales Comm * 0.10

Click OK to close this popup menu.

You will now notice that a new field called Bonus is active in the Field List.

Double Click or Drag it to the Values Section of the Pivot Table Layout.

Voila! You have now created an new calculation called Bonus, based on existing values within the Pivot table, and it is now available for analysis in the Pivot Table.

You can use this simple technique to create as many pivot table fields, and enhance your analysis.

If you would like more such tips, you may subscribe to the ExcelChamp Excel Tips Newsletter or Excel Tips RSS Feed.

Cheers,
Vinai Prakash

Are you facing any problem in using Excel? Any Question?

You have come to the right place. Tell us your needs. We’ll be glad to help you!

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