Top tips for Excel 2016

Excel 2016
By Steven Fullerton, CA Today

26 January 2016

The latest version of Microsoft office - Office 2016 - has recently been released and as we prepare to adopt it here at ICAS, we share some of our top tips and key new features of the software.

The design of the new Office suite mirrors that of the mobile apps released for iPad, and also that of Office 365, the online only version. Apart from the obvious lick of paint that has been applied here, there are lots of changes under the hood that make this essential piece of software speedier than ever. Here are our top tips for features that you perhaps didn't know about.

Tell me what you want to do.

Excel ribbon

Excel is crammed with functions and tools and sometimes we can forget where a particular option sits within the menus. Microsoft has now included a popular feature from the Office 365 apps, you can simply type into the box on the ribbon with your query and Excel will offer a list of related options. This box is like Google for Office and can be found in Word and Powerpoint too. However, fFor Office 2016 for Mac users this feature isn't currently available. A similar function which exists in all apps under the help menu allows you to search for features in the same manner.

Next level Charts

Chart types

Microsoft has added six new types of chart with the release of 2016. Whilst some won’t be relevant, we think the waterfall chart will appeal to finance professionals. The waterfall chart shows the rise and fall of data, perfect for displaying financial statements visually. Other notable new chart types include ‘Histogram’ suitable for displaying frequencies found in distribution and ‘Sunburst’, a circular chart that is suitable for when your data has several layers of hierarchy. Microsoft has also added ‘recommended charts’. Based on your cell selection it can suggest the most effective chart type to use.

recommended charts

Flash fill

Based on related columns relative to your current selection, Excel will recommend data patterns to allow you to quickly fill in additional columns. The most common example is when you have two columns - one for each of the first and last names of each person. If you create a third column, and type in the full name, Excel will spot the pattern and suggest populating the rest of the new column. You can accept the suggestion by pressing the return key. A real time saver when adding lots of data.

Improved sharing of documents


It’s now even easier to share and collaborate on Office documents. A dedicated Share button enables you to add documents to your One drive or share via email. Creating a public link and inviting your colleagues via their email address allows you to all work on the same version of the spreadsheet, in real time. Alternatively you can share a non-editable version.


Although not new, this underused, handy shortcut exists to help you quickly reformat fields into your chosen currency, overriding the current cell type. Confusingly, perhaps, in the UK the shortcut is still the $ key rather than the £ key.

This is the second CA Today Excel top tips article. Find out what featured in the first article.

Let us know in the comments if you have any tips you want to share or send them to us on Twitter.

Images provided by Microsoft


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