Excel Sparkle (aka how to add some pizazz to your Excel spreadsheets) Featured

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Welcome to Excel Sparkle, an informal, online Microsoft Excel skills development programme.  While you won't get CPD points for following these articles, you will probably be able to impress your colleagues and your boss with some of the skills that you may learn here.

The idea behind this series of articles is to share practical ways in which I use Microsoft Excel on a daily basis, with tips and tricks on making Excel easier to use and generating more professional looking documents.  Some ideas presented here may be old news to you already, others may be completely new, but if even one person learns something new then I will consider this a personal victory.

The series will start with examples from my own experience, but I would like to encourage all members of this community to share their experiences with Microsoft Excel.  An Excel Sparkle category has been created in the forums so that you can share your tips with others, or allow you to ask other community members how to do something in Excel.

To kick off this series, I will start with a very basic, yet very important (in my opinion) part of any document issued.  In order for a document's content to be evaluated properly, the reader needs to know when that document was created and issued.  The obvious way of accomplishing this is to enter the date somwhere in the document.  On a static document (i.e. a document that is only created and issued once) this is fine, but for a live document (e.g. a costplan that gets updated or reused regularly) this might not be ideal.  How many times have you issued an updated document and forgotten to change the manually entered date?

In order to avoid this I use Excel's today function.  This function returns your computer's current system date as a value in a cell.  The date format of the cell can be formatted to meet your specific requirements.

Excel's today function is similar to the now function, the difference being though that it does not reflect the current time.  The table below shows the difference between these two functions.

Formula Formatted as Date Formatted as Time
=now() 23/07/2017 16:32:08
=today() 23/07/2017 00:00:00


I must add a note here relating to the use of these formulae:  the date value is updated every time the file is opened, printed or edited, so if you specifically need to record a static creation date for your file, then these formulae will not be suitable.  Personally, I create a PDF from my Excel files each time I need to issue them.  This preserves the date of issue of the file in the PDF document.

That's it for this brief, introductory article in my Excel Sparkle series.  What do you think of a series of articles in this vein?  What would you like to see included in future articles?  Head over to the Excel Sparkle forum and leave your comments and suggestions there.

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