The 5 Best Excel Tricks I’ve Learned on TikTok

"Excel TikTok" is the most useful corner of the internet.
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Meg Embry is a writer at BestColleges covering all things career and education related. An award-winning journalist and editor, she has lived and worked in Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States....
Updated on September 22, 2023
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Jennifer Cuellar is a managing editor at BestColleges and oversees content around college rankings and careers. She has previously worked with TheBestSchools, Lantern, Expedia, Travelocity, Quicken, and Mint as a writer, editor, and content strategis...
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  • Employer demand for Excel skills continues to rise.
  • But with nearly 500 functions and formulas, mastering the program can seem overwhelming.
  • Fortunately, there's a crew of Gen Z Excel influencers on TikTok who can help you.

Let's be honest: Working in Excel is tedious, and numbers can be scary. But if you're job hunting, you will benefit from getting comfortable with both.

Excel skills have become nonnegotiable for many good jobs across industries. A 2019 study by Burning Glass Technologies projected that employer demand for Excel skills would grow by 23% in just five years. In the information economy, employers are looking for people who can wrangle data, make sense of it, and use it to inform business decisions.

What Makes Excel So Scary?

Excel has been around for nearly 40 years, adding new functions all the time. Currently, there are nearly 500 functions.

The sheer scale of the program can be overwhelming. That's why many of us tend to cling to the basic functions we already understand and ignore the rest. Excel expert Simon Hurst has estimated that the average user only employs about 10% of Excel's processing power.

But you know who isn't scared of all those functions? Gen Z. Some of these young people –– who Business Wire places "firmly at the vanguard of technology use across all generations" –– are even becoming Excel influencers on TikTok.

They manage to make mastering all those functions and formulas fun.

TikTok Is a Skills Platform –– Really

You're probably thinking: TikTok? Isn't that, like, a dancing app for teens?

Sure, you can learn the latest dance moves on TikTok –– if that's what you want. But you can also learn so many other things. In the right hands, TikTok is a digital wonderland of upskilling opportunities and career training resources.

On Excel TikTok, you can learn how to visualize data, perform calculations, and impose order on the chaos of your existence, one digestible short-form video at a time.

Here are the five most satisfying Excel tricks I've learned on TikTok so far.

1. How to Upload Data from a Photo

If your manager wants you to do a bunch of data entry by hand, try this instead.

  • Open the Excel App on your phone.
  • Select "Insert."
  • Select "Data from Picture."
  • Snap a picture of your data.
  • Extract the data into an Excel spreadsheet.
@exceldictionary maybe next time boss #excel #exceltips #tutorial #spreadsheet ♬ Mission Impossible (Main Theme) - Favorite Movie Songs

2. How to Make a Geographic Heat Map

Thanks to COVID-19, we've all become pros at reading heat maps. Here's how to visualize your own data on a map.

  • Enter your data into a new sheet.
  • Select "Get Add-ins."
  • Search for "Geographic Heat Map."
  • Select your data.
  • Set your formatting within the plug-in.
  • Save, and marvel at your interactive map.

Geo Heat Map — make it Haute 🔥

♬ Haute - Tyga & J Balvin & Chris Brown

3. How to Format a Massive Spreadsheet

Say your team is working out of a spreadsheet with a billion rows and columns, and none of them are formatted for visual clarity. Here's a quick fix that only takes a couple of keystrokes.

  • Use keyboard shortcut CTRL+A to select all.
  • Use keyboard shortcut ALT+H, O, I to autofit the width of your columns.
  • Use keyboard shortcut ALT+H, O, A to autofit the width of your rows.
  • Use all the time you just saved to learn more Excel tricks on TikTok.
@miss.excel Get ready to impress the whole team with this one 🔥 #theassignment #selfimprovement #todayilearned #excel #learnhow ♬ The Assignment - Tay Money

4. How to Look up Two Separate Fields at Once

If you need to pull data from a table by range or row, use the XLOOKUP function (the latest update to the VLOOKUP function), which lets you look up two fields at once.

  • Enter the function
  • =xlookup
  • Enter the cells with your lookup values and separate with an "&"
  • =xlookup(C2&D2
  • Select the corresponding lookup value source columns and separate with an "&"
  • =xlookup(C2&D2,C6:C569&D6:D569
  • Select the cells that contain the output data you want to return
  • =xlookup(C2&D2,C6:C569&D6:D569,E6:E569)

Now when you enter your lookup values, XLOOKUP will return the corresponding item!

@excel.friend impossible with vlookup but so easy with xlookup #learn ♬ original sound - Max P

5. How to Create and Format Charts and Graphs

Need to visualize some data for a presentation? Turn it into a gorgeous chart.

  • Select the relevant data.
  • Click "Insert" from top menu.
  • Choose the type of chart you would like to create.

Formatting not quite right?

  • Select the "Data" button.
  • Choose desired series and horizontal axis.
  • Edit the title if you need to.
  • Add data labels.

Who knew numbers could look this good?

@miss.excel Chart Magic✨ #excel #howto #summer2020 #summerlooks #edutok #spreadsheet ♬ Magic In The Hamptons - Social House

As you can see: If you're on the job market, angling for a promotion, or just trying to build skills as you go, it might be time to download TikTok.

Frequently Asked Questions About Excel

What is Excel?

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Excel is one of the most popular and powerful software programs available. Launched by Microsoft in 1985, it uses spreadsheets to organize data. While Excel is largely used for business finance and accounting, professionals across industries also use it to record, manage, and analyze data.

What are some common uses of Excel?

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  • Data entry
  • Data management
  • Charting and graphing
  • Programming
  • Time and task management
  • Customer relations management
  • Accounting
  • Financial Analysis
  • Financial Modeling

What are the benefits of using Excel?

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You don't have to be a data analyst to benefit from Excel; it can be a great tool in almost any role. Here are three major benefits of using Excel at work:

1. Everyone else is doing it: According to the Financial Post, there are over 750 million Excel users worldwide, and 63% of businesses rely on the program. Competitors have launched their own spreadsheet programs, but Excel continues to be a shared language that makes communication easier across industries, companies, and stakeholders.

2. It can improve your productivity: Building out an Excel-based workflow can streamline your daily processes, automate tedious manual tasks, increase the visibility of important information, make it easier to track goals, and help reduce opportunities for error.

3. You can extract meaning from huge datasets: Big data is everywhere. Excel can help you sift through it to find patterns and trends. Whether you're making graphs, creating pivot tables, categorizing ranges, or searching for specific information, Excel has a function or tool to make your job quick and accurate.

What jobs require Excel skills?

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While the usefulness of Excel transcends roles, you definitely need to know the basics if you're considering a career in any of the following fields: is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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