When you are working with a set of a related data set, the easiest way to manage and analyze them is to use the table feature. By using Excel tables, you can manage data in the table rows and columns independently from the data on the outside of the table on the worksheet.
You may also want to see our article 10 Microsoft Excel Tips to Save Time and Work Faster.
Convert the data into an Excel table
You can use one of the following two methods to convert Excel data into a table.
- Select the dataset and got to Insert and select table option in the table group.
- Select the dataset and press Ctrl+T
The main benefits of converting data into Excel tables will be explained under the following topics.
- Always visible Header Row
- Banded rows and formatting
- Sorting and filtering
- Using calculated columns
- Total row and calculating table data
- Inserting and deleting rows and columns
- Using structured reference
- Easy data entering
- Ensuring data integrity
- Dynamic charts
01. Always visible Header Row
When you scroll down your table and when the header row of the table goes underneath the ribbon, the default column title of Excel (A, B, C…) turns into your table’s columns titles.
02. Banded rows and formatting
When you convert your range of data into an Excel table, by default the Excel shades every other row in the table making them easy to read. You can turn on/off the banded-row option from Table Style Options under the Design tab. You can also have banded columns. The style of the table can be changed from the Table Styles option under the Design tab.
03. Sorting and filtering
When you convert a set of data into an Excel table, the filter drop-down lists are automatically added to the header row of the table. You can sort data ascending/ descending order, by color and you can set custom sort order. You can also filter the table data and show only the required set of data. The filter buttons can turn on/off at any time by using the filter button checkbox in the Design tab.
04. Calculated columns
If you enter a formula in a cell, that formula is applied to all the other cells in that table column. This column named as a calculated column. The calculated column automatically extends to include the additional rows added to the table.
05. Total row and calculating table data
The “total row” can be turned on/ off from the checkbox in the design tab. You can quickly do the calculations by selecting the required function from the drop-down menu. You can access all other excel functions from the “more functions…” options at the bottom of the drop-down menu. If you apply a filter, the total row only shows the calculations for the visible data.
The keyboard shortcut for the total row is Ctrl+Shift+T
06. Inserting and deleting rows and columns
In Excel tables, you can insert/delete columns or rows without affecting other parts of the worksheet i.e. the column insert inside the table does not continue to the section below the table.
There are a number of ways that you can add columns and rows into tables. Among them, using the mouse right button will be the easiest way.
To add a new row below the last row of the table, you can simply use the “Tab” key of the keyboard.
07. Using structured reference
When you use Excel tables, you can use table name and names of columns in functions i.e. instead of =SUM(E2:E6) you can use =SUM(Table12[Line Total]). With the structured reference, the function itself clearly explains what it does. This is more useful when you are working with a large number of Excel sheets.
08. Easy data entering
It is very easy to do data entry tasks with excel tables. When you enter data to a new row at the end of the table, the table is automatically expanded to include that row. The always visible header row also an advantage. You can also generate a data entry form connected to the Excel table to make the data entry more simple.
09. Ensuring data integrity
You can apply data validation to specific columns in the Excel table. For example, you can add a data validation rule to a column to accept only values with text length greater than 3.
10. Dynamic charts
As explained in the above 8th point, when adding a new row next to the last row of the table dynamically expands to include that row. As such, if you create a chart based on an Excel table the chart is also updated with the new values you added to the table.