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posted on Aug 16, 2018

Excel is a great tool for managing data, defined as “facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.” [1] Data can be numbers or text. Numbers can tell how much or how many, measure cost, or indicate the date and time. Text can be short codes, full words, phrases, addresses, phone numbers – basically, anything which can’t be counted is text.

Find Data: One at a Time

To find a specific piece of data, e.g. a person's name, click anywhere in your sheet, then click CTRL-F. Enter in the number or text you want to look for.

Note that Excel defaults to finding any cell which contains that number or text anywhere in the cell. For example, if you search for "Toronto", you will also be sent to cells which contain "Metro Toronto," "Greater Toronto Area," "Torontonian," etc.


Click Find Next to find the first cell which contains that data. Keep clicking to find subsequent cells.


Alternately, if you want to know the locations of all cells containing that data, then click Find All.


Find Data using Filters

Excel has an Auto-Filter which is likely to do a lot of what you need, with just a couple of clicks.

1. Select your header row. Note that you can only select ONE row.


2. Click Data → Filter


3. Now you will see drop-down arrows appear next to every header. Click on one of the drop-downs. (in the example, I clicked the “province” dropdown)


(a) You can sort the table by this column. Click one of the top three choices.

(b) You can select or deselect any values. Say you want to see everyone who is based in BC. Click Select All to deselect the whole list, then click BC.



(c) Let’s say you want to find out who in your list has a Hotmail account. You can use text filter to find that out. Click the Email dropdown, then Text Filters.


To find everyone with a Hotmail account, you want to find every cell in the Email column which contains the word Hotmail.


Note that we now have two filters: BC and Hotmail. You can see which columns are filtered because they have a filter icon in the dropdown box.


To remove a filter, click the dropdown for that column and click Select All.

If you have a lot of filters which you want to reset all at once, the easiest way is to click Data → Filter to toggle the filtering off. Then go back to step one if you want to start filtering afresh.

The filter function can also be used to sort data. See our previous blog post to learn more about data sorting.

Learn More

To learn more about Excel, come to one of our courses

Excel 101

Excel 101 will help you bone up on the basics.

Click here to register Wednesday, September 19, 2018. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Click here to register Wednesday, October 3, 2018. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Excel 201

Excel 201 is for intermediate users who are ready to take their skills to the next level. In this course, we cover pivot tables, charts, and data substitution.

Click here to register Wednesday, October 31, 2018. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

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