How to use a Table in Excel

Updated on: January 9, 2023

It is well-known that Microsoft Excel can sort your data in every way you need. But let’s go to basics, to the primary tool that can achieve your information and every kind of content you have, to categorize and analyze it properly: Let’s talk about tables and how to use them.

Insert a table

Accessing tables in Excel is quite simple, but first, you need to enter the titles or headers you want to watch on it. Once you have it, you ought to do the following:

  1. Go to the “Home” tab.
  2. Select the headers and the content you want in a table.
  3. Look for the “Styles” group of tools from the home tab aids.
  4. Click on the “Format as table” button (which is the second option).
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  1. Pick the option you prefer. You can choose many styles, cell colors, etc.

The other option you can use after selecting the range where you want the table is by going into the “Insert” tab, searching the “Tables” group (which is the first one), and clicking on the third option named “Table.” Afterward, a pop-up dialog box will appear, and you must confirm your selection by pressing the “OK” button.

In both cases, don’t forget to mark in the “My table has headers” checkbox option so Excel can recognize them. Usually, the first row of your selection will be read as the title. So, if you don’t check it, Excel will assign them by Default as “Column 1,” “Column 2,” and so on to allow you to edit them later.

Customizing your Table

Notice that once you apply the table, it has been named by default as “Table 1” (if the first on the worksheet). To change it, you just need to click on the new contextual tab called “Table Design,” check the name at the very left of the “Properties” group, and rename it.

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In the same tab, in the center of the ribbon, you’ll find the “Table Style Options'' group with some checkboxes that allow you to show or hide. Thus, when you check any of those items, you will enable what you will display on the table.

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Note: If you mark the “banded columns” checkbox, you will see the titles of each column even if you scroll down:

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Using your table

In addition to all the above, something extraordinary about tables is that you can sort your data according to each column's filters. So, go to the headers and click on the dropdown list option at the right-hand corner of each cell.

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Notice, then, that there are three principal options:

  • Sort A to Z.
  • Sort Z to A.
  • Sort by color, which only works if the cells or the text font differs from the automatic one.

These are the basic ones, and especially the last one (sort by color) can be extremely useful when working with the Data Validation Feature also by color.

When using the “Filters” that correspond to the second section of the display options, you can access the following options:

  • Equal.
  • Does not equal.
  • Begins with.
  • Ends with.
  • Contains
  • Does not contains.
  • Custom Filter.

Each of these will bring up a dialog box you must complete so your table can do its job. Thus, don’t worry if you need a specific item you don’t remember; use this filter, and you will be able to find out what you need.

Finally, the last option is to check or uncheck the items you have in the specific column you selected. This will just show you what you have marked and avoid the rest.

There you go! Now you can use a table and sort your data according to your needs and preferences. Try it yourself and don’t forget to choose a nice color style. Good luck!

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
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