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Excel Book Reviews. Excel Hacks By D & R Hawley of OzGrid.com

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By D & R Hawley of Ozgrid.com

100 Excel Hacks for every day Excel problems! Aimed at the intermediate+ power user.

Reviews (good or bad) updated weekly

Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars

5 out of 5 stars Make Excel do things you'd never thought it could do, May 14, 2004


Reviewer: Meryl K. Evans (see more about me) from Plano, TX

I have bent Excel over backwards to do stuff it was not meant to do like track training metrics and use it as process bug-tracker (think programming bug tracking system except it's for processes).

PivotTables are useful, but when I need them, I have forgotten how to use them to their fullest. My mind goes blank when I face the PivotTable wizard. A whole chapter is devoted to its magic and scanning the hack titles helps you quickly decide what you need and go to work.

The hacks go from easy as pie to tough as nails. Did you know the comments boxes don't have to be square? It's a simple hack and the first cool thing I learn from the book. The hacks covering XML and macros are for the advanced users, but intermediate users should be able to do them and hard working beginners can get there.

Excel isn't just for accountants anymore and the book shows how to use it for other things. The book is worth the investment for anyone who uses Excel. Make it break a sweat with these hacks and have fun doing it.

Excel Hacks by David & Raina Hawley of Ozgrid.com

Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful tool. Yet most users have only scratched the surface of its power, using only a small part of its capabilities.

Excel Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools by David & Raina Hawley, shows readers how to do more, and how to do things better, with the market-leading spreadsheet. The word "hack" here refers to its original meaning in computers. A hack was either a "quick and dirty solution" or a "clever way of doing things", and didn't refer to breaking into systems. This book presents 100 different hacks spread over eight categories, covering the basics; built-in features; naming hacks; pivot tables; charts; formulas and functions; macros; and connecting Excel to the rest of the world.

Individually, none of these hacks may cause you to run down the street shouting "Eureka", but together they should help just about every Excel user. I consider myself an expert user, working with spreadsheets for over twenty years and teaching classes in Excel and 1-2-3, yet I was still able to learn a lot from this book. In some cases, it was genuinely new information (Hack #50, Explode a Single Slice from a Pie Chart or Hack #99, Access SOAP Web Services from Excel). In other cases, it showed how to use a tool I knew about in some different way (Hack #41, Create Custom Functions Using Names or Hack #78, Construct Mega-Formulas). A couple of times, it served as a reminder to use some tool that I had been neglecting (Hack #6, Customize the Template Dialog and Default Workbook).

Some of the hacks are usability tips, showing how other tools (such as pivot tables) will be more useful if you lay out data in a certain way. Several tips help if you develop spreadsheets for others to use, limiting their capacity to screw things up. Sometimes, the hacks may just spur you to further thought, making you think "Gee, if you can use this tool to do this, maybe with just a little more work I can get it do that!"

The hacks are self-contained, so you don't have to read the book cover-to-cover. If a particular topic doesn't interest you, it won't hurt to jump ahead, or even skip a particular chapter. You don't need to type in long, complicated listings either. You can download the sample code for all the hacks from the authors' website. The authors do Excel training and application work in western Australia, and their website is crammed with more Excel material.

Who should read this book? The ideal audience is the broad middle class of Excel users. You shouldn't give it to a beginner, because they are still learning about the forest while this book looks at individual trees. Super power users, who may know ninety of these hacks already, won't get that much of it either, but they should be writing the books, not reading them. But for everyone in between, the book is sure to teach something you didn't know about Excel.

5 out of 5 stars Wow! What an Excel-lent book!!, May 20, 2004

  Reviewer: dreamboatonword (see more about me) from Quakertown, PA

Just when you think you know everything, someone like this has to come along and show you that, comparatively speaking, you didn't know anything. Thank goodness, NOW YOU DO because you've read this terrific book!

Kudos to Dave & Raina Hawley!

4 out of 5 stars Mary Ann Reviews Excel Hacks, May 25, 2004

  Reviewer: Mary Ann Hartzog from Chugiak, AK USA

This book is full of amazing tricks and shortcuts that one can use to customize workbooks and make them more user friendly and visually appealing.

The book is designed to be useful to both Macintosh and PC users. The writing style is easy to understand and uses step-by-step instructions. There are many helpful illustrations.

The hacks are rated for difficulty: Beginner, Moderate and Expert, and groups of hacks are organized into chapters.

Hack #1 is rated as Beginner. This hacks allows the user to view multiple workbooks on the screen simultaneously and also how to change the layout style of the workbooks viewed. The Excel user can then choose a method of viewing multiple workbooks best suited to his or her needs.

Hack #3, rated as a Moderate hack, is entitled "Prevent Users from Performing Certain Actions." This hack protects Excel workbooks from changes. The creator can protect his or her workbooks from being copied with the Save As. . .command, prevent the user from printing a workbook and prevent users from inserting more worksheets.

Hack #57 is an example of an Expert hack. "Create A Speedometer Chart" seems to be one of the more elaborate hacks in the book. It enables the user to create a circular chart with a moving needle by first compiling data in a worksheet and then using the Chart Wizard to combine doughnut and pie charts. The user can then create a unique chart that isn't offered by the Chart Wizard. The speedometer needle will move when a scrollbar is activated by the user.

This book isn't one to use to learn Excel for the first time. But anyone who has a basic understanding of Excel will find hacks that are useful and will make their work more productive.

5 out of 5 stars Treasure chest full of tips for Excel users..., May 31, 2004


Reviewer: Thomas Duff (see more about me) from Portland, OR United States

If you spend any time working with Excel as part of your job, you'll really like this book... Excel Hacks by David & Raina Hawley (O'Reilly). This book contains 100 tips and tricks related to the Excel spreadsheet package from Microsoft. The tips are divided into the following chapters:

Reducing Workbook And Worksheet Frustration; Hacking Excel's Built-in Features; Naming Hacks; Hacking PivotTables; Charting Hacks; Hacking Formulas And Functions; Macro Hacks; Connecting Excel To The World

This particular Hacks book has an advantage that many other Hacks titles don't have. The subject matter relates to a single program, so nearly all the hacks are applicable to an Excel user. Contrast that to a Hacks title like Network Security Hacks, where your choice of operating system limits the number of tips that you can use. While there are some Windows-only Excel hacks included, most all the tricks work on both the Windows and Mac version of Excel. Nobody should feel left out here.

I especially liked the chapter on the charting hacks. They outline a technique for building a speedometer chart that is really impressive.

If you are an Excel power user (or know someone who is), this is the book for you.

5 out of 5 stars Excel in a nutshell, July 25, 2004

Reviewer:   A. Nalicat "nalicat" (CA USA) - 

Every excel user should have this on their desk for quick reference. This book reveals many hidden kinks that we would never have thought was available in excel. This book apart from it easy to understand steps also reveals downloadable ADD-IN's to your excel >>> expanding your use of this powerful financial worksheet. This also has as many instructional's if your using a MAC.

3 out of 5 stars Introductory, not a Hacks book, July 29, 2004

Reviewer:   Jack D. Herrington (Union City, CA United States) - See all my reviews

This book is a good introduction, but it's not a Hacks book. The Hacks series, which I really like, is all about unique and novel approaches to tricky problems. This book is a nice introduction to Excel, but it doesn't provide particularly unique content. I'm sorry to see that since I haven't yet seen a Hacks book I didn't like. Oh well, there is a first time for everything.

If you are interested in Excel introductory material you will probably like this book. If you are an experience Excel user looking for a Hacks style book with unique and cool solutions to tough problems, you won't find them here. I gave the book three stars because, even though it's not a Hacks book per se, it's still a tight and well written book on Excel that is still far superior to some of the 1000 page screenshot collection doorstops on the market.

5 out of 5 stars Excellent !!!, September 22, 2004

Reviewer: Eric Eskin (Wilmington, DE USA) - See all my review

This is one of those rare books which provides value for all skill levels. I have been using Excel for over 10 years and am generally happy if I learn 3 or 4 new methods for using Excel from a particular book. There are numerous examples here of implementing Excel solutions that I have not seen or thought of previously. Further, these examples can be implemented by virtually any user of the product. The content is well-written and provides very good examples of the "hacks." BUY it even if you think you know everything there is to know about Excel.


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