Excel Formulas – 3 Proven Tactics to Find Help about How to Write a Formula

There’s not a single way to learn the formula strategies of the pros.

In this article I will show you three tactics that I have used with great results. I use them interchangeably…

1) Visiting a forum

Forums are jungles of threads, desperate users, expectant experts, veteran’s tactics and many other things…

To get the most of a forum, you should be practical.

Here are some tips…

  • Use the best forums only. My preferred ones are: mrexcel, excelforum, and ozgrid. To illustrate the point of the relevancy of these sites, mrexcel has more than 1 million posts.
  • Firstly, search the forum to find the existing solutions to your problem. Don’t commit the mistake of posting  “just another desperation question”. If you don’t find the answers, then it is time to post a question. Describe your problem to get a fast reply.
  • Don’t visit a forum exclusively when you have a pressing problem. Use it as an open source of valuable and practical information. The best tricks are awaiting you there.
  • Read the forum guidelines to post efficiently and get attention fast. Here is a summary of the most relevant rules…
    • Your post title should accurately and concisely describe your problem, not your anticipated solution. Use terms appropriate to a Google search. Avoid poor thread titles like: Please Help, Urgent, Need Help, Formula Problem, Code Problem, Need Advice, etc.
    • Please choose the appropriate forum, and post your question in ONLY one forum.

My best recommendation is don’t stay there for too long, you may become an Excel forum addict and waste time in the long term.

2) Trying by yourself

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, the computer won’t crash its circuits!

Make your fingers type arguments, use test-arguments, (I used to use 1s and 0s), write them on cells, then read the Excel help,  and then try by yourself.

Was the result as expected? If not, modify one thing at a time. All the mistakes you do now are for the purpose of getting acquainted with the function.

I love using 1s and 0s to test the formulas with evident results. This way I can detect errors more easily and gain confidence with new formulas,  faster.

3) Seeing over the shoulder of a local expert

Excel is installed in almost every computer of the world; this is my personal opinion that is not so far from being true.

According to that, there is a pool of experts in every office of the world. Someone that has been using Excel in real work-circumstances after three years is for me,  an expert.

If you have a problem, they may have solved it already; there are some ways to approach such persons.

  • Ask them for help
  • Ask questions about some topic and see what they do with their magic fingers.
  • Study the spreadsheets they produce; they are full of techniques and precious knowledge. Don’t be shy to open it and study until you grasp every technique they applied in the model.

In these days, accessing information is a matter of where and not so much about the how.

What is your favorite way of getting help for your formulas? You surely have other ones to share…