5 Tips: Excel for Non-Financial Communicators

Financial Performance Reports and Touch Screen Tablet Computer 

September 2012

After the BurrellesLuce June newsletter, Meaningful Metrics: Finance for Communicators, readers asked us to provide practical tips for working with financial models. The number one request: offer some resources that could help non-financial communicators use Microsoft Excel more efficiently.

As requested, and without further ado, here are 5 tips to help make you a master at Excel.

1. Know the basics. Do not underestimate the Help tool (the question mark); it is one of your greatest resources for how-to instructions, templates, tips and more in Excel. This primer from Studyfinance.com, created for Excel 2007, also provides tutorials about entering and editing data, working with formulas, formatting worksheets, and creating charts.

2. Choose the right template. Setting up spreadsheets can be time consuming, particularly if creating them for the first time. Having a template means more efficient, consistent, and accurate reporting of efforts, as well as the ability to compare and replicate results going forward. In addition to various templates and worksheets available in the Help section of Excel, there are a number of resources online to get you started. EXINFM offers over 100 free spreadsheets ranging from Capital Budgeting Analysis, Comparable Models, ROI Models, and others.

3. Double check your formulas. Excel is a great tool for driving numbers and ROI. However, one wrong formula or miscalculation and you risk over- or under- valuing your efforts. Mathematical functions like AutoSum (quickly adds the values in a column or row), SUMIF (totals cells in a selected range based on a defined criteria), and SUMPRODUCT (weighted average) are just some of the Excel-defined functions that take the guesswork out of reporting figures and that expedite the process. When using data to drive decisions, always remember to check and recheck your formulas and results.

4. Avoid the appearance of lost text or data. Setting up forced line breaks within a cell is one way to ensure your data remains available and visible – and to maximize time spent organizing and manually inputting data. Other useful functions for text include, splitting text among columns, formatting and converting a number to text, and joining several text items into one cell.

5. Leverage keyboard shortcuts.  By now most of us using a U.S. keyboard are probably familiar with Ctrl + C to copy or Ctrl +V to paste and how much time they save us when creating documents. Beyond that there are shortcuts for working with shapes, text boxes, and WordArt. This guide for financial modeling in Excel offers some general shortcuts as well as ones specific for navigation, formatting, data manipulation, tables, and more.

BottomLine: Excel is the language of your chief financial officer and as any savvy communications pro knows, your CFO drives your revenue and budget. To stay on his/her good side you need to plan, project, and correlate data. There are many Excel tutorials on YouTube for those looking to self-teach. Even advanced Excel users can find free tips or professional business and computer courses online.

BurrellesLuce Automated Reporting comes as a standard part of BurrellesLuce WorkFlow. Automated measurement reports and graphs provide valuable insight into media coverage based on a user’s specific needs and alert preferences. Reports are delivered automatically via email as an Excel, PDF, or Word document as new information is posted to a project. When automated metrics aren’t enough, there’s BurrellesLuce Custom Measurement, which relies on human-analysts who help clients most accurately evaluate their media coverage.

About BurrellesLuce

BurrellesLuce is the U.S. leader in media monitoring. Professionals in a wide range of industries rely on our comprehensive curated content from local and national print, online, broadcast, and social media sources. BurrellesLuce has a turnkey copyright compliance program that allows us to provide copyright-compliant, behind-the-paywall content not available to other services. BurrellesLuce combines grade-A content with easy-to-use software, allowing users to evaluate and analyze their media coverage and PR efforts. It's all integrated into our user-friendly interface, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™.

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