Tutorial – The Secret to Excel
By Richard Kraneis
Yes, there is a "Secret" to using Excel.
But what does that mean? Is this a gimmick? No,
it’s honest to goodness advice from a computer training consultant.
Be patient, read this page, and you will be a much stronger Excel
user in the next 3 minutes. If I have only 5 minutes to give anyone
an Excel tutorial, I would teach them the "Secret".
I was amazed when I learned what I call the "Secret"
to Excel. I was amazed that Microsoft hadn't placed the feature
as an icon on one of their toolbars. I was amazed that all of the
"real" books I owned regarding Excel failed to mention
the "Secret". Finally, in an Excel reference book, I found
the "Secret" to Excel somewhere on page 350. The "Secret"
had been buried so deeply in the book no one would ever read, see,
or use the "Secret".
A Brief History Lesson.
When you inherit someone's "old" spreadsheet
you need to analyze the formulas of the spreadsheet to see what
they are doing. Even if the spreadsheet is one you created, you
may have created the spreadsheet so long ago that you have forgotten
what formulas you used.
Over the years Excel has improved its quality control
features for analyzing formulas. But even today, 95% or more of
all users research their spreadsheet formulas the old fashioned
way. They click on a cell to see if it's a formula. Then they study
the formula. Then they might click on another cell to see if it's
a formula. And do the same thing over and over again.
Checking formulas with the mouse-click method is
slow, tedious, and not thorough. It's a bad process. But that's
the way over 95% of all Excel users research their spreadsheets.
But there's a much better way. It is the "Secret" to using
Life with Excel spreadsheets when using the “Secret”
After using the "Secret" the spreadsheet
makes sense again. I can remember all of my formulas. Since I can’t
use pictures in this article, read this next passage carefully:
Learning the "Secret" to Excel helps you
display all your formulas not as numbers but as logical text. You
can see the logic of every single formula on your spreadsheet.
The "Secret" to using Excel is a keystroke
command named CTRL gravé. This is pronounced "control
gra-vay". (Gra rhymes with the word pa, and vay rhymes with
the word bay).
Because I can't use pictures in this article, I
need to write some steps for you. Don't skim over these steps, do
them. You'll be glad you did. (It's really quite simple, it's a
First, open up an Excel spreadsheet file that has
formulas in it.
Second, using your Windows (non-Apple) keyboard,
look to the lower left hand corner of the keyboard.
Third, hold down the CTRL key with any finger.
Fourth, locate the number 1 key towards the upper
left hand corner of the keyboard.
Fifth, find the key one key left of the number 1.
It has the symbols ` and ~. The first symbol, the ` is called a
Sixth, still holding down the CTRL key, tap the
Seventh, see that all your formulas now have logical
text. So instead of saying 150, a cell might display =a1+a2
CTRL gravé is a toggle. Do it once to see
your formulas in the spreadsheet. Do it again to display the numbers
Do you remember how when you were little you learned
how to read at age 4, 5, or 6? Wasn’t it fun beginning to
understand what all those neat symbols meant on the white paper?
It was like discovering some secret code the grownups used.
That’s what the “Secret” to Excel
is like. Every time someone gives you a spreadsheet, just use the
“Secret” on the spreadsheet to understand its logic.
You’ll enjoy this technique so much you’ll start showing
it to your friends.
Best wishes from Chicago, IL USA.
To see the "Secret" to Excel training video, go to http://TheWorldsShortestExcelBook.com
Read the first page to find the 5 minute training video on the "Secret".
You can also sign up for Richard's free Excel courses delivered
to you once a week.
is an author of Excel e-books and training videos. If you need on-site
advanced Excel training for your company, please visit http://www.techspectrum.com/AET.html
for further information. Thank you.