5 Excel Secrets You’ll Be Embarrassed You Didn’t Know

Bottom Line: Learn 5 Excel techniques that will help you grow as an Excel user.

Skill Level: Beginner

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5 Excel Secrets I Wish I'd Known Sooner

With decades of Excel experience, there are things I know now that I wish I'd learned sooner in order to avoid spending too much time on tasks that can be done better, faster, and smarter. To save you from headaches, here are five Excel techniques that will improve the way you work with spreadsheets.

These tips will not only save you valuable time but also help you avoid common pitfalls and mistakes.

1. Streamline Data Selection with Keyboard Shortcuts

Navigating large datasets can be a cumbersome task, especially when manually selecting data with the mouse. By mastering keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + Shift + , you can swiftly navigate to the end of your dataset with precision and efficiency. Say goodbye to tedious scrolling and hello to lightning-fast data selection!

CTRL Shift Down Arrow ↓ or Ctrl Shift End to select entire column


  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet containing a large dataset.
  2. Click on the cell from which you want to start your selection.
  3. Press Ctrl + Shift + to quickly select all contiguous data in the column.
  4. If your column has blank cells, a better shortcut might be Ctrl + Shift + End.
  5. This will also select the contiguous columns to the right, but if you keep Shift pressed, you can reduce your column selection by clicking .

That's it! Your data is selected in seconds, saving you valuable time and effort.

Interested in more keyboard shortcuts? Try these:

2. Harness the Power of Lookup Formulas

If you're tired of scouring through rows of data to find a matching value, try using lookup formulas, your new best friend in Excel. With functions like XLOOKUP, you can instantly find and retrieve data based on specified criteria. No more manual searching.

XLOOKUP Formula Example


  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet containing your dataset and the value you want to look up.
  2. Enter the XLOOKUP formula in a cell where you want the result: =XLOOKUP(lookup_value, lookup_array, return_array)
  3. Replace lookup_value with the value you want to find, lookup_array with the range where you want to search, and return_array with the range from which you want to return a corresponding result.
  4. Press Enter, and your lookup formula will instantly return the desired result.

And of course, after writing your first formula, you can use the fill handle to copy the formula down to subsequent rows.

Here are some additional posts that give you more guidance in using lookup formulas:

3. Automate Data Consolidation with Power Query

Gone are the days of manual data consolidation! With Power Query, you can automate the process of combining and cleaning data from multiple files.

Append Combine Multiple Excel Files to One Table with Power Query

You will NOT miss the tedious copy-pasting once you master this unique tool for streamlined data consolidation. Basically, you can let Power Query do the heavy lifting while you focus on analyzing insights.

Power Query Editor
Click to enlarge


  1. Open Excel and go to the Data tab.
  2. Click on Get Data and select From File > From Folder.
  3. Choose the folder containing your files and click OK.
  4. Power Query will display a preview of the folder contents. Click Combine > Combine & Load to consolidate the data into a single table.
  5. Customize your data transformation steps as needed and click Close & Load to load the consolidated data into Excel.

Here are more posts about how and when to use Power Query:

4. Create Dynamic Summary Reports with Pivot Tables

Writing complex formulas for summary reports can be a daunting task. But Pivot Tables offer a powerful solution for creating dynamic and insightful reports in Excel. With just a few clicks, you can summarize and analyze large datasets without breaking a sweat.

Create quick summary reports in Excel with Pivot Tables


  1. Select any cell within your dataset.
  2. Go to the Insert tab and click on PivotTable.
  3. Then choose where you want to place your pivot table and click OK.
  4. Drag and drop fields from your dataset into the Rows and Values areas to create your summary report.
  5. Finally, customize your Pivot Table layout and formatting as needed to meet your reporting requirements.

For more help with Pivot Tables, check out these posts:

5. Supercharge Your Workflow with Macros

Do you find yourself performing the same tasks repeatedly in Excel? It's time to unleash the power of macros! With macros, you can automate common Excel tasks, such as formatting headers and cleaning data. For increased productivity, let macros do the work for you while you focus on more important tasks.

Format worksheets with macros.


  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet and go to the View tab.
  2. Click on Macros and select Record Macro.
  3. Name your macro, choose where to store it, and click OK to start recording.
  4. Perform the desired actions, such as formatting headers or cleaning data.
  5. Click on Stop Recording when you're done.
  6. Lastly, to run the macro, go to the View tab, click on Macros, select your macro, and click Run.
View or Record Macros

Learn more about macros with these tutorials:

I also mentioned in the video that if you can't see the Developer Tab in your Ribbon, I have a video that shows how to make it appear: How to Enable the Developer Tab in Excel for Windows.


There you have it—five helpful Excel techniques to supercharge your productivity and accuracy. By mastering these techniques, you'll not only save time but also prevent common errors in your Excel projects. So what are you waiting for? Start implementing these techniques today and take your Excel skills to the next level!

Don't forget to leave a comment letting us know which technique you find most helpful.

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