Join Dennis Taylor for an in-depth discussion in this video Custom lists for rapid entry, part of Excel 2010: Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts.
In Excel, we can quickly build series based on month or day of the week simply by making an entry. And for example Sunday drag from the lower right-hand corner, and we get the next day, next day, next day. These are built-in automatic. Suppose you have a list that you frequently use. Here's a list of departments within a company. It happens to be alphabetized. That's not any kind of requirement, but it's a sensible way to organize information. What if you've been using this a lot and your mode of operation has been every time you need this list you jump to this file and you go to this worksheet and you copy this and paste it somewhere else.
All right, not a bad idea, perhaps reasonably efficient, but what if you could have at your fingertips this list and have it available in the same way that we enter days of the weeks or months? In other words, simply type in one of the entries then drag from the corner and get the other ones. And probably in this little scenario too you would always be typing the ADC, which is the first name here, and then dragging it from the corner. We're about to talk about is what's called a custom list. You can take any list. Maybe list of people, or inventory, your clientele, all kinds of different concepts here. Create the list at least once or be prepared to type it. In this case it's already there so I'm highlighting it.
I'm about to turn this into what's called a custom list. Highlight it, then click the File tab in the ribbon and choose Options. And in the categories along the left- hand side choose Advanced, scroll all the way to the bottom, and you'll see a choice in here Edit Custom Lists. Click here. Already built-in are the ones that refer to the days of the weeks, the months of the year, and the respective abbreviations. And if we didn't have our list highlighted, we'll click in the List entries panel right here.
Start typing and pressing Enter after each one, but we have it highlighted. Let's import this. There it is, and it takes its place in the list. When we click OK and exit this dialog box, this list will be here with the other entries potentially forever till we take it out. And the list stays in your Excel settings. This is not a function or a creature of this worksheet and so no matter which worksheet, which workbook you're working with from now on, this list is available once we click OK and OK.
I know we're in this worksheet. We probably don't need it here. Maybe I'll go to a different worksheet. Here's an empty one. I need my list right here for example. I'll type ADC, and now you don't have to type the first group but most of the time you would. Drag from the corner. What we're getting here? And I don't remember exactly how many I have. I think it's about 25 or so, so there of is. You drag it a bit too far, well, okay it starts over. Not a big deal. Get rid of it. That's at your fingertips. It's available all the time. Now, there's another list you might have seen here off to the right. And it's not very large and you might say "well why would you need that? [00:02:4632] You could almost type it by the time you drag it. Well not quite, but there is another rationale for it.
You'll notice this isn't alphabetized, but it isn't you might say somewhat coherent order. And as I go to the worksheet here called HR List, here's the reason that you might want to have a custom list. I want to sort this data here by Status. So I'll click in column F and do it the fast way. On the Data tab, simply click A-Z, the entire list has been reorganized, and we group them by Status. And I'm happy, although wait a minute here I'm saying gee, you know what, the Contract people are ending up first. They're not bad, but why not have the Full Time group appear first? They run the company.
We can have the Full Time names first. If we did a reverse alphabetical sort they wouldn't be on top. The hourly people would be. Therefore Status is here. What we'd like to be able to do is sort this on the basis of a custom list. So back on the worksheet here, we have got this data here, and let's highlight this and make this be a custom list as well. Once again, the File tab in the Ribbon, then Options, then the Advanced category, all the way to the bottom, Edit Custom Lists. We got it highlighted. Let's just import it and click OK and OK.
So back on the worksheet that has the database list we want to sort this. Now we can't use A-Z buttons in this case. We must use the actual Sort dialog box. We do want to sort this by Status, Sort On Values, but we don't want the Order to be A to Z. That's the alphabetical default order. Click the drop arrow here and choose from the custom lists that we have available. And sure enough it's this one. Click OK, click OK. And that's the order that we want to sort. When you find yourself saying I want to sort my way, this is how to do it.
Create the custom lists. Now, you have to monitor or remember that you do have a custom list, and you might have a few more, and a few more, a few more. And occasionally, you will run into little problems when you're creating a list because of certain word might appear in both of them. The other rationale that we use for creating a list to quickly get it anytime we want. Probably we wouldn't be using this small list for this, but if you were setting up statistics over on the side here or something, and you wanted the list of an employee account, or a salary account, or something you might just for example-- I'm going to drag this with the Ctrl key, just put the word Full Time right there and then drag down three more cells and there the other ones.
So I will put my statistics over to the right or whatever. So it's handy for that, but the real reason for you to creating this small list here or the smaller custom lists is to use it for sorting purposes. And many times I think that's the more compelling reason. But over time you want to remember that the lists are stored in your Excel settings. And you might forget that from time to time, and so if you occasionally want to go out to File > Options just see which lists you have out there. Again, it's in the Advanced category, drag this down, Edit Custom Lists. Just a quick look at your lists that you have out there.
If you need to make changes within the list, I think it's best to just get rid of it. For example, click here, delete i,t create a new list somewhere, and then start over rather than somehow trying to edit this. So it makes more sense to do it to other way. So two good reasons for having a custom list in Excel.
- Creating charts with keyboard shortcuts
- Converting formulas to values by dragging
- Repeating Undo and Redo actions
- Displaying formulas instantly
- Navigating quickly through worksheets and across workbooks
- Formatting numeric, and date/time data in a flash with keystroke shortcuts
- Inserting dates or times instantly
- Grouping rows or columns to create collapsible regions
- Building data-entry shortcuts with Auto-fill
- Displaying unique items from large lists
Skill Level Intermediate
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A: Discover more on this topic by visiting Excel formulas on lynda.com.