Quick Analysis Tools in Excel 2013

Notes from the “Office Guy” at Directions Training:

This month I’m going to continue exploring some of the new features found in Microsoft Excel 2013. I promise that I’ll get to Word and PowerPoint 2013 in upcoming months!

The new feature is called “Quick Analysis Tools” and it has many different uses. But first, you have to be able to spot it, because it is not a new button on the ribbon. It appears under the guise of a “Smart Tag”.

Smart Tags have been included in the Microsoft Office suite for a long time, but most users tend to ignore them and hope they’ll disappear because they don’t know why they show up in the first place.

So, let’s first review Smart Tags in general. Let’s say you were doing something simple, like a copy and paste operation. After you copy data to the clipboard and click at the location where you wish to paste it, a Smart Tag appears as illustrated below:

And, if you’re like most people, you ignore the Smart Tag, which eventually disappears when you continue working on other things in your document. But, if you take a moment to click on the Smart Tag, you’ll see a menu of additional options you might not be aware of:

So, in similar fashion, the Quick Analysis Tools will first appear as a Smart Tag, but the options that are offered can really let you do a lot of things that used to take multiple steps to accomplish. While this article will not cover all of the possibilities these tools have to offer, a few examples will illustrate why this is a Smart Tag you’ll not want to ignore.

First, let’s talk about Sparklines. Sparklines were introduced in Office Excel 2010 as a way to place a small graph into a single cell to illustrate trends in a set of data. But in Excel 2010, you had to know where and how to add Sparklines. Now all you have to do is look for the Quick Analysis Tools Smart Tag, and in a few quick clicks you’ll have Sparklines as illustrated below:

And now, a second example of how Quick Analysis Tools can also do quick summary calculations so you don’t have to write and copy formulas as illustrated below:

There are also Quick Analysis Tools to apply Conditional Formatting features such as Data Bars and Color sets. The main thing is to not ignore the Quick Analysis Tools Smart Tag – once you really start using it, you’ll realize the power and convenience of this new feature.

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