In this tutorial, we will be covering the basics of using Flash Fill as well as its many uses. Flash Fill is a feature in Excel that automatically completes and reformats data based on patterns identified by the user. It can save you hours of time and make your work more accurate and efficient.
We will be showing you a step-by-step on how to use Flash Fill, as well as providing examples of how it can be used in different scenarios. By the end of this tutorial, you will have a solid understanding of how to use Flash Fill and how it can benefit your work in Excel.
Step-by-step guide in using flash fill.
- Open your Excel spreadsheet and select the column of cells that you want to use Flash Fill on.
- Start by entering a sample value in the first cell of the selected column or range based on the data that is present that is at left of the column.
- Under the “Data” Tab, click Flash Fill. Or “Ctrl+E” on your keyboard.
- Excel will automatically detect the pattern you have entered and fill in the rest of the selected cells accordingly.
- If the pattern is not detected correctly, you can manually edit the formula.
- Once you are satisfied with the results, you can choose to fill the entire column or range by clicking the “Ctrl + Enter” key.
Flash Fill can be extremely useful when it comes to concatenating strings of text. For example, if you have a spreadsheet with two columns of data, “First Name” and “Last Name,” and you want to concatenate these two columns into one “Full Name” column, you can simply enter a sample concatenation of a first and last name in the first cell of the “Full Name” column (e.g., “John Smith”).
For example, if you have a column of data with email addresses and you want to extract just the usernames, you can simply enter a sample extraction of a username in the first cell of the new column (e.g., “username_1”). Flash Fill will then automatically detect the pattern and extract the usernames from the rest of the cells in that column.
For example, if you have a column of data with full telephone numbers and you want to extract just the area code, you can simply enter a sample extraction of an area code in the first cell of the new column (e.g., “555”). Additionally, you can use Flash Fill to extract certain parts of the phone numbers, such as the country code or extension.
For example, if you have a column of data with full dates and you want to extract just the month, you can simply enter a sample extraction of a month in the first cell of the new column (e.g., “Jan”). Similarly, you can extract the day or year of any date by providing a sample of it.
For example, if you have a column of data with job positions and you want to shorten them to their respective acronyms, you can simply enter a sample abbreviation in the first cell of the new column (e.g., “CEO” for “Chief Executive Officer”). This can save you a significant amount of time and effort compared to manually abbreviating the text. Additionally, you can use Flash Fill to abbreviate company names, department names, or any other type of long text.
For example, if you have a column of usernames and you want to add a specific email address to each of them, you can simply enter a sample concatenation of a username and email address in the first cell of the new column (e.g., “firstname.lastname@example.org”). Flash Fill will then automatically recognize the pattern and add the email address to the rest of the cells in that column, saving you time and effort.
For example, if you have a column of data with full timestamps and you want to extract just the hour, you can simply enter a sample extraction of an hour in the first cell of the new column (e.g., “12”). Similarly, you can extract the minutes or seconds of any timestamp by providing a sample of it.
One of the main limitations of Flash Fill is that it does not automatically update the output if the data is changed. This means that if you make changes to the data in your spreadsheet after using Flash Fill, the output will not be updated accordingly. This can be problematic if you need to make changes to your data and want the output to reflect those changes.
To work around this limitation, you will need to manually update the Flash Fill output by re-applying Flash Fill.
Another limitation is that it is not able to handle complex calculations and formulas. It works best for simple data cleaning and formatting tasks.
It’s important to note that Flash Fill is best used as a tool for simple and repetitive data cleaning and formatting tasks rather than as a replacement for more advanced Excel functions and formulas. It can save a lot of time and effort for these types of tasks, but it may not be the best solution for more complex data manipulation.
Using a formula in Excel can bypass the limitations of Flash Fill. Formulas in Excel are dynamic and will automatically update the output based on any changes made to the data. This means that if you use a formula instead of Flash Fill to clean and format your data, you will not have to manually update the output every time the data changes.
Flash Fill is a powerful and user-friendly tool in Excel that can save a significant amount of time and effort when it comes to cleaning and formatting data in your spreadsheets. It can be used for a variety of tasks, such as concatenating text, extracting specific words or numbers, and changing the format of data. However, it does have its limitations, such as not updating the output even if the data is changed and not being able to handle complex calculations.
Using Flash Fill is great for cleaning, formatting, and organizing simple data, but formulas are more powerful for analyzing larger amounts of data. It’s important to understand the difference and to use the right tool for the job to be more efficient and accurate.