Excel Spreadsheet Project Ideas

By Darrin Koltow

Very few Excel users are aware of all the program's powerful features, many of which can help people achieve their personal and professional goals. Among the many productivity-boosting spreadsheet projects are creating a mailing list, which reveals Excel's use as a Word resource, and developing a job application, which highlights the program's data-validation features. Discover other features by using Excel for budgeting and for tracking informative articles.

Create a Mailing List for Word

Consider this scenario: you've written a form letter you want to customize before sending to prospective employers or clients. You need to personalize the letter's salutation and closing. Excel assists with this task by providing separate columns for first and last names, and for the addresses of recipients. First, create the headings "First name," "Last name," and "Address" in separate and adjacent Excel columns. Next, enter each heading's data. Once you've inserted the field names in a Word document, you can link to Excel's addressee data using Word's Mail Merge command.

Create a Job Application or Other Form

To create a job application or questionnaire, enter the field prompts and labels in one spreadsheet column, and direct applicants to enter their responses in an adjacent column. Use Excel's Data Validation command on the input cells to ensure the correct type of response for each field. For example, to ensure that a job application's "Telephone number" field has only integers, click the "Whole Number" item from the Allow control in the Data Validation dialog box. Use the form controls in Excel's Developer tab to enable easy entry for specific input types. For yes-or-no questions, for example, insert a Check Box control on the form.

Budgeting

To help you track your monthly expenses, list the name and category of each expense in one spreadsheet column, and the dollar amount of the expense in an adjacent column. For example, enter "car insurance," "groceries," and "other expenses" in a column labeled "Expense Category." To the right of that column, enter the amount spent last month on the corresponding category. When the month ends, use the Insert tab's Pie button to create a pie chart showing the greatest expenses.

Create Reading Lists

Use Excel to help you remember interesting articles from the Web and other media. Use one spreadsheet column to list article titles, and another to list URLs or magazine names for those titles. Other columns might include subject names, such as "Leisure" or "Career." Create a Tags column to hold keywords, which make finding articles easy. For example, add the tags "food" and "diet" to an article about the nutritional value of garlic. You might forget the article some weeks after reading it, but by using Excel's Filter command to display only those articles with the tag "food," you'll spot the reference to the garlic article.

Versioning Information

Information in this article applies to Excel 2010. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

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