Best Excel Reference Book

Over the years, I have used many Excel reference books to continually try to find new tips and tricks. There have been several that have been pretty good. Some were too basic, others just not helpful.

This book is aimed at the intermediate level users. This feature made the book attractive as I don’t need pages of introductory material in Excel.

Picture of book

The book has great descriptions of methods to analyze and manipulating data — perfect for accountants. It also has tons of practice exercises for those wanting to use the text in the classroom.

For more information on the book, go to https://amzn.to/335Elez for Excel 2016 or https://amzn.to/358w77B for Excel 2019.

INDEX/MATCH or VLOOKUP?

The VLOOKUP function is widely used to retrieve information from a range of data. Although that function works great, most of the time, it does have some limitations.

This article gives a great summary of when to use INDEX/MATCH vs the VLOOKUP function. https://excelzoom.com/3109-2/

Of course, soon in Office 365, this will all go away with the XLOOKUP function

Match/Index – Best functions ever!

OK — there is a lot of competitions for the best Excel functions. However, Match and Index have to be near the top of any accountant’s list.

There are times that a VLOOKUP, just won’t cut it. Remember, a VLOOKUP requires the lookup value is in the first column of the table array. Sometimes, that just isn’t possible. There are some cases in which you are rearrange the data, but not always. That is where a combination of MATCH and INDEX saves the day!

In the following example, you cannot use a VLOOKUP to lookup the Item Number, using the Vendor Part Number. The Venter Part Number is not in the first column.

Excel Inventory Table

The MATCH function searches for a specified item in a range of cells, and then returns the relative position of that item in the range. The INDEX function returns a value, specified by its relative position in a range, from within a range of cells. In other words, MATCH is used to find an item and INDEX is used to return the value of the item.

The MATCH function has the following syntax:

MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, [match_type])

The INDEX function has the following syntax:

INDEX(array, row_number, column_number) /html

Using the table above, the following example shows a comparison of the VLOOKUP and the MATCH/INDEX functions.

Match/Index formulas

To see a short video for further explanation, go to: https://youtu.be/U_g6grN7Ndg

Forensic Auditing with Excel

The role of a forensic auditor may be to identify suspicious transactions which may be fraudulent. Excel can be a useful tool to review a smaller dataset.

This Excel Zoom article shows users how to perform 5 simple forensic tests, including:

  • Identify Duplicate Transactions
  • Identify Rounded Transactions
  • Find above average payments
  • Identify a gap in transactions
  • Compare highest to 2nd highest transaction

To see the article, go to: https://excelzoom.com/five-ways-performing-forensic-audit-using-ms-excel/

Excel Tip – Text Functions #1

There are times text needs to be converted to lower case, proper case, or upper case for consistency sake. Excel provides functions to easily convert text in these cases.

However, Excel does not convert text to sentence case — the first letter only is capitalized. Using a combination of functions will easily convert text to sentence case.

The formula to convert the text in A1 is:

=UPPER(LEFT(A1,1))&LOWER(RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-1))

For examples, see the following:

Examples of text functions.
Examples of Text functions

Next week will continue with more useful text functions.

Slicers — Making Pivot Tables Easier

You have perfected your data analysis with a pivot table and you are about to share with other users. Slicers make Pivot Tables easier for other users to filter data in the table.

Slicers are a pop-up dialog box which allow the user to click on button to quickly filter the data.

To insert:

  1. Click in your Pivot Table.
  2. From the Pivot Table Tools > Analyze toolbar, Click Insert Slicer.
  3. Select the fields to provide a filter.
Insert slicer

4. To filter select the value on the slicer dialog box.

Slicers with Pivot Table

To select multiple values, click on the Multi-Select icon then click on the desired values. To clear the filter, select the Clear Filter icon with the red x to display all values.

Vlookup — True or False?

Vlookup is one of the functions I use the most. It can locate data within a table and return a value. One of the most confusing things about the function is whether or not to include the True or False at the end.

When using the Excel Function wizard, it argument in the function is called Range_lookup.

Function Wizard for Vlookup.
Vlookup in Function Wizard

Simply stated, use a TRUE or 1 when you want an approximate match. Use a FALSE or 0 when you need an exact match.

Use TRUE when the data in the lookup table does not contain all of the possible data points. For example, in the figure below, if you want to look up the tax rate you would use an approximate match since all incomes are not in the table. If the net income were 100,001, it would return a rate of 39%.

Tax Table

It finds the closest value that is not larger than the lookup value.

In order to use an approximate match, your data must be sorted as well. Otherwise, use a FALSE or exact match.

For more examples, see this YouTube video:

Video explanation

Excel Tip: Sort by Color

In a data area, several cells are selected by highlighting in a different color.  The example show cells that were manually selected, rather than using conditional formatting.  However, if cells are shaded or have a different font color due to conditional formatting, this will work as well.

Excel worksheet with some cells  shaded.

These can easily be sorted to the top of the list.  Place your cursor in one of the cells that has the color to sort to the top.  Right click.

From the pop-up menu, select sort > Selected cell color on top.  This will sort based on the color.