My Best Practice Tips for Importing External Data Into Excel

I created this Excel Training Video after helping a viewer who was having difficulty getting the correct results in his Pivot Table. The problem, it turned out, was not with the Pivot Table. Rather, it was with the way his underlying data was stored and formatted.

When to Store Numbers as Text Values

Get External Data From Commands

External Data Commands

Specifically, he had combined the records from multiple workbooks into a master table. The data came from multiple main-frame computers. However, in some workbooks he had the “Invoice Number” stored as a “Numeric” value while in other workbooks it was stored – properly – as a”Text” value. Excel will treat Invoice Number 678910 stored as a number differently from the same entry (678910) stored as a text value.

Here is the “rule of thumb” to follow: Unless you will be using the SUM, AVERAGE, PRODUCT, MIN or MAX functions in a field, store numbers as “TEXT Values.” A short list includes fields for telephone number, postal codes, customer numbers and invoice numbers.

Start with the Correct Data

When you Import External Data Into Excel, start off on the right footing. Import the fields that contain Invoice Numbers, Postal Codes and Telephone numbers as “Text” values. In my experience, I have found that trying to format these fields “after the fact” does not give me the results that I was looking for. Getting the External Data fields correctly formatted at the Import Data step is the key to producing accurate and informative Excel reports.

“The 50 Best Tips for Excel 2007” DVD-ROM

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Follow this link to watch this Excel video at DannyRocksExcels on YouTube.

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