Archive for Books

“Excel Hacks” – Book Review

Excel Hacks is a largely excellent book written by David & Raina Hawley, founders of Australian Ozgridan online authority on Excel and VBA. The title is somewhat discouraging; using the word “hacks” doesn’t inspire confidence at first, but the authors do.

What the book covers:

  • Reducing Workbook and Worksheet Frustration
  • Hacking Excel’s built in features
  • Naming hacks
  • Hacking Pivot Tables
  • Charting Hacks
  • Hacking Formulas and Functions
  • Macro Hacks
  • Connecting Excel to the World

Pros and Cons

The first chapter is about reducing the frustration that an Excel user indeed might run into, for example when trying to personalize  the interface, weeding out unnecessary prompts, locking cells or reducing Excel workbook size.

Furthermore, the book deals with a large number of tips to help you better pivot tables and charts, including a dynamic approach to various input data, e.g. making the SUBTOTAL formula dynamic.

If you are an avid user of Excel, this book is truly fun to read and clearly ahead of most traditional Excel textbooks that often do no more than present Excel’s functionality. The tips you get in Excel Hacks are not normally found in other books.

On the downside, the reader should have an Excel skill level above novice user to be able to absorb as much as possible of this book, even though all Excel users can probably find some gems in this book.

Excel Hacks was written in 2004 and is therefore quite old. On the other hand this isn’t necessarily a problem because the issues tackled in the book are mostly timeless.