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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

with Michael Lee Stills

Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

Computer Image

~July 2003~ Topics

Paperwork Image Managing Your Excel Data: Combining Sorting and AutoFilter

For those of you starting to warm up to MS Excel, you should like the combination of using Sort with AutoFilter. By now you may have created a large spreadsheet on your volunteer program. Likely headings include Last Name, First Name, Address, Phone, Position, Hours. With a large number of volunteers, say over 100, you may find it a bit cumbersome to narrow the focus of your data to meet your needs.

Most of you know about Sorting:

  1. Highlight the Data Range in your spreadsheet. (Note: After you do this once, the data range is set and as long as your cursor is inside the data range it will automatically be highlighted in future sorts.)
  2. Choose Data>Sort.
  3. If you have given each column a heading (good idea), then you will be given a list of options and three levels of sorting.
  4. Set your options and hit OK. For example, choose (1) Last Name, (2) Position, (3) Hours.

Your data will then be sorted by Last Name, then by Position and then by Hours. Thus, all the persons with the Last Name "Mouse" will be together, all the "Mouse’s" working as "Tour Guides" will be together, and then all the "Mouse’s" working as "Tour Guides" with "40" hours will be together.

Sorting is a great way to organization your data to group like information together.

Now, if you add AutoFilter to a large Sort, you can filter out all the unnecessary data leaving only what you are looking for.

  1. Highlight the Data Range Headings in your spreadsheet. (Last Name, Position, Hours)
  2. Choose Data>AutoFilter.
  3. Next to each Heading that has been highlighted, you will now have a little drop down arrow.

Click on any arrow and you will see a list of all the different data that exists in that Heading. For example, your spreadsheet may contain Smith, Brown, Jones, and Mouse in the "Last Name" column. If you Sort the data you will still have to look through the entire data to find the information on the "Mouse" family and pick out those "Mouse’s" on "Clarabell Lane" from those who live on "Mulbury Drive." However, if you scroll through the list in the drop down box for Last Names and choose "Mouse" and choose "Clarabell Lane" from the list in the Address heading, then only those with the last name of "Mouse" on "Clarabell Lane" will be listed. All other data will be hidden.

Combining AutoFilter with Sort gives you a powerful new tool to quickly get the data you wish to focus on. Thus, after narrowing down the list to the Mouse Family on Clarabell Lane, you can sort that data as described above. You can then quickly see that Minnie has put in over 100 hours, Mickey has 75, while Morty has only put in 3 hours as a Tour Guide.

Quick Tip: Full Screen Viewing in your Browser

When viewing a web page in MS Internet Explorer, you may sometimes wish that the screen were a little bigger. Mouse on Computer Image

Hit the F11 key on your keyboard and many of the menu bars will disappear, revealing more of the web page you are looking at.

Hitting F11 again returns you to your normal viewing window.

Do you know of a better way? Or do you have any questions?
Drop me a note at Michael@MichaelStills.com

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