Microsoft has introduced several features to its Excel product to help users save time. Among the five listed in the announcement, the two key releases are Formula Suggestions and Formula by Example, and they both work in autocomplete mode to make the Excel tool even smarter.
As you can see in the explainer video, once you start type an equal sign into a cell, Excel will make an educated guess as to the type of formula you should be using based on the surrounding data. For instance, if you have a range of cells that contain quarterly sales numbers and a column at the end of the range that is labelled “total,” Excel may suggest adding up all of the numbers in the range.
Microsoft’s blog post claims the feature currently only supports the English language and will offer formula suggestions for summing, averaging, counting, counting by, and finding the minimum and maximum values. Certainly, Google Sheets has had a feature like this for a while, and Excel’s AutoSum has long been a fast way to apply formulas to data, but for some purposes, this could be a nice time saver.
Secondly, there is a feature called “Formula by Example,” which works similarly to “Flash Fill” in that it can use data patterns to complete an empty column. This feature is difficult to describe succinctly, but this video from Microsoft should give you an idea of what it’s about: recognising a pattern in which you combine information from cells and then automatically generating a formula to save you time.
Formula suggestions and formula by example didn’t work when I tried them out on the web. However, the post does state that the updates are currently being rolled out, so it’s possible they simply haven’t reached my account yet.
Microsoft’s announcement also includes a new Image feature which allows users to insert images into cells from a source location, along with the alternative text and a Search Bar so users can search and find their queries in the Queries search area.
“The theme colours have been updated from last year’s release and we’ve added additional colour options so you can choose your very own favourite colour on light and dark theme for Skype. These beautiful new vibrant colours can now be seen more prominently throughout the product,” said Microsoft in a blogpost.
These new features in Excel are made for web users, Windows and Mac users as well.