How to make database magic with Excel

The Christmas break may be the best time for professionals to freshen up some of their processes in preparation for the new year. Below are some of my tips and tricks to implementing or reconfiguring features such as Excel to assist with productivity.

There are many ways for professionals to implement Excel into their workplace. One of the most useful ways of using Excel is for a database, but over time lots of problems can arise:

  1. You add details collected from the internet which are inconsistent (online signups for your newsletter or requests for quotes for example)
  2. Different people interact with it and have different habits – such as using all upper case in places or putting abbreviations, not adding on prefixes for phone numbers, mixing landline and mobile numbers in one column
  3. Duplicates can occur
  4. Mistakes such as commas in email addresses instead of full stops

If you need to use the above list for emailing or mailing, you have to clean it or face looking bad! I wrote a book on improving one's database, but below are a few tricks I'd like to share in working with Excel: 

  1. OneDrive (free online MS Office) has a splendid version of Excel online that you can share, thus allowing people anywhere, anytime to enter their own contact details. All they need is the link. 
  2. Online Survey with OneDrive also has a stunning online survey/form capacity. You can create a form, survey, RSVP reply and send links. What you get is a secure database of the responses all set out and done for you and it's easily downloadable too
  3. Text to columns – in the data menu Excel 2003; data ribbon Excel 2007-16 will split apart information into separate columns based on what you tell it: space, comma, dash
  4. Concatenate – will then put things from multiple columns back into one column. For example your last names, like van der Geen
  5. Proper is a feature that turns text into proper tense – capital for the first letter
  6. Text Filter allows you to search within columns for specific text using the ‘contains, does not contain’ parameter
  7. Export to Outlook – I bet you didn’t know you can not only import your Excel database into Outlook but you can also do the opposite – export your Outlook contacts into Excel.
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