Data in Excel occupies cells, in columns and rows. Converting a set of data into a table means that you can quickly filter or sort the data, and it allows you to reference that table by name, instead of using ranges. That way, if your table expands, Excel still knows what to do. It is generally good practise to convert the data you are using into a table as it can make it easier to work with later.
To convert a set of data to a table:
- Highlight the range of data (CTRL + A helps)
- Go to the Insert menu and click Table in the Tables section
- In the pop up, make sure that the “My table has headers” is ticked if you have headers
- Click OK.
Converting to a table will mean you get an extra menu item – Table Tools: Design. This allows you to name the table, and change the formatting, as well as some other useful functions. It can be useful to name the table appropriately (it will default to Table1) as then you can refer to it later when creating pivot tables or other features. You can change the name in the top left corner of the Design menu.
Other useful aspects of the tables are being able to include a total row, exporting it, removing duplicates or creating a slicer (more on these in a coming post).
In summary, tables are quick to make, and if you get in the habit of converting your data into them, it can make life easier when you want to do more with it later.