5 Non-math Things to Do with Excel

April 26, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Microsoft Excel is a hugely versatile tool, used for creating and managing massive spreadsheets of numerical data. Financial data, statistics and even sports scores can be collated and analysed with Excel, and its use is widespread.

However there are plenty of less advanced tasks that can be performed with Excel. This application is for everyone, not just accountants, and there is no reason why you can’t use it to manage tasks, assist you in planning a written document, accumulate scores and manage a variety of different document types.

It might seem unlikely but all of these things are possible in Microsoft Excel 2010…

5 Non-math Things to Do with Excel

Manage Time and Tasks in Excel

A very basic use of Microsoft Excel is to manage your time. If you don’t regularly use Outlook or would perhaps prefer a more in-depth method of planning your time, an Excel spreadsheet split up into days and hours with a planned list of tasks and their expected time for completion can be a great way to plan study or even a business.

Thanks to Excel’s formatting options you might assign colors to different types of task, while creating the table is easy thanks to the Excel border tools and the ability to create an instant row of headings for days of the week, something you would do by entering, say, “Sunday” in a cell, highlighting the cell and left-click and dragging the small square in the lower-right corner of the highlighted sell to paste the subsequent days of the week in the following cells.

Plan Your Writing Project

Another great use for the table format of Excel is to plan a massive writing document. There are various ways you might do this; IDW comic book writer Tony Lee uses spreadsheets to plan pages by breaking them down into however many cells he imagines will be required, describes the actions in one column of cells and lists the key dialogue in the next.

It’s an interesting method that he terms “blocking out” but can be translated to other documents, such as reports, essays and novels.

Compile Scores

If you’re keen keeping tabs in a board game or card game, and don’t have a pen and paper handy, opening your notebook and loading up Excel is a quick fix that can be used to count scores without worrying about any mental arithmetic.

Simple list scores for each competitor in a separate column and use the Microsoft Excel AutoSum button to create a total in the next empty cell. AutoSum will automatically calculate the previous values into a total, although take care to enter a zero score as such rather than leaving the cell blank as this will cause problems.

Manage a Quiz in Excel

You might have seen novelty quizzes that go around at Christmas and other times that are based on an Excel spreadsheet; one common theme is naming pop stars from the 1980s by identifying them from the photo and inserting the name of the act underneath.

If you’re right, the quiz awards you points, but this only happens if your answer absolutely matches the one hidden elsewhere in the spreadsheet.

You can create a spreadsheet like this using colors, a basic formula (such as =IF(B1=””, “”, IF(B1=”answer”, “Right”, “Wrong”))) and of course plenty of good questions!

Manage and Launch Documents with Excel

Finally, Microsoft Excel can act as a superb HTML based document launcher, ideal for quickly finding and opening documents that are regularly used and updated.

The chart-based layout of Excel makes this simple to arrange, and by merging cells you can create larger cells that might act as “buttons” to launching documents (other spreadsheets, Access databases, Word documents, or even programs) that you can link to using the HTML tools featured in Excel and available by right-clicking the intended cell and choosing Hyperlink… from the menu.

There are many more uses for Excel that don’t involve doing something with numbers or vital figures – do you have any?

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