These Are the Top 9 Most Useful Advanced Excel Functions
Let’s face it, there is so much to learn about Excel, and not everyone has the time to study all of the advanced Excel functions. It’s much more realistic (and beneficial) to pick the most valuable ones and learn them inside and out.
As with everything in Excel, there are multiple ways to get a job done – whatever that job may be. However, these advanced Excel functions offer the most versatility and will save you time once you master them!
Top 9 Most Useful Advanced Excel Functions
In Microsoft Excel, SUMIFS is categorized as a Math & Trig function that adds numbers within a specified range of cells. Unlike the SUMIF function, SUMIFS can add the cells based on multiple criteria as opposed to just one.
How is it useful? Well, the ways it isn’t useful would be a much shorter list! This function operates both horizontally and vertically, accepts wildcards and comparison operators, returns 0 when no matching values fulfill the requirement, ignores text and numeric data type differences, and employs AND logic for all conditions. This is a must-know, genuinely powerful advanced Excel function. Learn SUMIFS.
Short for “Vertical Lookup,” the VLOOKUP function does what it sounds like: searches for one value within a column, and then returns a value from a column to the right within the same row.
When finding matching values in a short list of data, it’s often easy enough to locate them manually. But imagine you’re looking through hundreds – or even thousands – of rows. VLOOKUP allows you to find the matching values instantly!
VLOOKUP does have some limitations, but it’s still one of the most useful (and loved!) advanced Excel functions for a variety of different needs. And even if you have a version of Excel that supports its replacement, XLOOKUP, you still want to know VLOOKUP because you’ll encounter it at some point. VLOOKUP is probably used in millions of existing workbooks and billions of cells. Learn VLOOKUP.
The XLOOKUP function is one of the newest additions to the Lookup function group in Excel, and is designed as an upgrade to VLOOKUP. In essence, XLOOKUP allows you to search for an item within a column (or row) and then return a matching result from a different column (or row).
XLOOKUP is useful because it addresses some of the limitations historically associated with VLOOKUP. To start, you define the lookup and return columns separately with XLOOKUP using range references. This means that you can search for a value in one column and return data that lies either to the right or left. You can also search from the bottom up if desired, whereas VLOOKUP only permits searching top down. You can check out this free XLOOKUP Webinar to review the basics and see how it improves upon VLOOKUP even more! Learn XLOOKUP.
The FILTER function is a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to return data from a range based on one or more conditions. It can be used to find specific values in a dataset.
In many, but not all, cases, the FILTER function can replace traditional lookup functions. While FILTER may not be able to replace the others in every situation, it can be a viable alternative for many of them. Here is a video that shows how FILTER can be an alternative to some of your favorite lookup functions. Learn FILTER.
5 & 6. INDEX and MATCH
While they’re two separate functions, INDEX and MATCH are often used together to find a value in a range of cells. The INDEX function, like VLOOKUP, can return a cell value. The MATCH function searches a range of cells for a specified item and then returns the item’s relative position within the range.
Also, like VLOOKUP, INDEX and MATCH are useful for searching through large amounts of data. The difference is that they’re impressively versatile, and can be used independently, with each other, or nested with other functions.
If you want to learn more about the advantages of each function, check out our thoughts on using VLOOKUP vs. INDEX and MATCH.
The Excel EOMONTH function calculates the last day of a month, a specified number of months in either the past or the future.
When you’re trying to calculate the last day of a month, it can be tricky because each month has a different number of days. This is where EOMONTH comes in handy. It will compute the last day of the month based on a start date and a specified number of months into the future (or past). It’s one of the most useful advanced Excel functions for folks who frequently compute dates in their workbooks. Learn EOMONTH.
The IFERROR function allows us to clean up Excel errors in our workbooks with a single function. It uses two arguments, value and value_if_error, to replace an error with a defined value. So you could tell Excel to return a zero, a dash, or any other number, text string, or function instead of an error.
This is quite useful because it alleviates the need to use two separate functions, IF and ISERROR, to accomplish this. When a formula produces an error, that error flows though all other dependent formulas. You can prevent those subsequent errors within your spreadsheet if you use IFERROR to return 0. Learn IFERROR.
The TEXTJOIN function, quite literally, joins text from two or more strings. It allows you to specify an entire range to combine, define a delimiter (or a character to place between the data), and it even lets you disregard blank cells!
TEXTJOIN provides additional capabilities beyond the CONCAT and CONCATENATE functions, and can be helpful when you need to combine values from multiple cells. Learn TEXTJOIN.
It’s important to remember that Excel has hundreds of functions, and even seasoned Excel users are always figuring out new ways to use them. There are so many possibilities!
The functions on this list are useful both by themselves and as building blocks for getting even more out of Microsoft Excel. For anyone looking to really make Excel work for them, it’s a great idea to master these functions and start using them to their highest potential.
Do you have any other advanced Excel functions that you use all the time? Let us know what they are by posting a comment below!
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