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How to import data into Excel 2010

Excel spreadsheets make it easy to navigate through tons of information across long lists or columns of data. You can also group connected sets of data together into workbooks for easy switching between related information and sort or filter your data. To give one example, many companies have a list of customers previously used to "Mail Merge" letters saved as a Word document. Once that information is imported into Excel 2010, it can be sorted by anything from the town name to creating separate lists of old and new customers, or the functionality can be used to calculate the number of recent orders. And Excel 2010 can also do so much more.

Let's start by opening the Word document containing the data we want to work with in Excel. In our example, the data is a table containing customers' names, addresses, phone numbers and order dates. When the table is imported into Excel 2010, each field in the Word table will be converted into an Excel cell. Let's look at how to import it.

Importing Data into Excel

First highlight the table that you wish to import into Excel, then right-click and select Copy from the menu.

Open Excel and click the cell where you want your spreadsheet to appear, then right-click your mouse for the right-click menu and select Paste.

Notice that the First Order and Last Order dates have apparently been replaced with '#######'. This is Excel's way of telling us that the information is too wide to fit into an existing column. To make the column wide enough, hover the mouse over the column border next to the column letter (H or I, in this example). A double-edged arrow will appear; click and drag to extend the column border. You may wish to adjust the widths of the other columns to obtain a better fit.

Tip: It is also possible to paste data from another program into Excel 2010 using Copy, Paste, and then Paste Special. Once Paste Special has been clicked, a dialog box appears offering a range of options for handling your data.

After your data has been successfully imported, you can take advantage of the additional features Excel has to offer. You might want to send a sales person to visit all your London customers, for instance. In our example list of customers, it's easy to see which customers are London-based: but what if our list contained 30,000 customers?

Filtering Data

To filter customers by any criteria all you need is a row or column with a related heading - in our case Town. Begin by selecting the data you want to work with: the whole of column E (with the heading Town/City) as shown in our image below. Click Sort & Filter at the top right-hand side of the window. A drop-down menu will appear: click Filter.

An arrow will now appear in the cell which contains the E-column heading, Town/City. Click the arrow and a drop-down menu appears. From this menu click Filter and a list of all the different data items entered in the column will appear with checkboxes. When all of the items you want to display are checked, and the other checkboxes are empty, click OK. This will display only the customer records which contain the information you want (London, in this example).

Microsoft Excel 2010 also has a host of other features to make working with data easier and produce stylish results including: Sort, Pivot Tables, Charts and many more. For more on Charts see the articles 'Professional Looking Charts for Your Spreadsheets' and 'Impressive Presentations with Customised Excel 2010 Charts' . To learn about Pivot Tables, please see 'Creating Pivot Tables Using Excel 2010'.

Now that you have successfully navigated Excel 2010 and created a your own data import and display, you can see that the software has been designed to make the experience as seamless as possible. It is also one of the smartest spreadsheet software solutions around, so learning more of its procedures and tricks will boost your productivity no end