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Excel Forums

You can state Excel © related questions in Excel forums: Once upon a time there were newsgroups, then there was Microsoft Answers ©, now I think you can find help in LinkedIn © groups, for example:

Excel and VBA Users
Excel Developers
Financial Modelling in Excel
Advanced Excel and VBA (this is a group which I initiated and where I discuss my topics of interest)

Often you get a suitable solution or a helpful hint. But sometimes you will not get the best possible solution because you did not explain your underlying situation or your problem precisely.

If you intend to state a question in a forum, consider it carefully:

  • Inform about the Excel version you are using and tell exactly what you want to know, give a short and precise example if possible
  • Mention the number of records you are working on (hundreds, thousands, ten thousands)
  • Tell whether you look for a one-off solution or whether you need to run it monthly, weekly or daily
  • Mention any restrictions which apply (no array formula, no VBA, no Pivot table, no Add-in?)
  • Tell whether it's a private question or if you need a solution for your office

Never present personal data or your company's data!
Create some dummy data which reflects your real data.

The next hurdles to get to a suitable solution are whether the forum readers correctly understand your question and whether they know Excel well enough.

Simple worksheet functions are best known and in many cases they might be the right solution for you. But think twice before you apply a complex worksheet function (an array function, for example). As a rule of thumb use helper columns instead of complex one-cell-solutions which exceed one or even two full screen lines in the formula editor).

Learn about Pivot tables. For many statistics and for many reports they are the right method of choice. Unfortunately they are still not widely known nor used. Very often they are not being suggested when applicable.

In some cases a VBA function or a VBA subroutine can be better or quicker by far than a worksheet function. Of course you cannot use them if your company's policy does not allow for this. But this is only rarely the case.

You might need an individual Excel add-in function if your application has a special need for speed or for a proprietary interface or functionality (link to Bloomberg © or a Fincad © function, for example). Make sure that you get a proper license or that you can re-compile the add-in (in case you got the source). See my Excel Don'ts, please.

Last but not least Excel might just not be the right answer to your problem. If you have too many records of data to process you might want to consider a proper database. But I have also seen questions about nutrition facts and about deviations of functions which I would answer with www.wolframalpha.com and not with Excel, for example.

A comparison of three different approaches to a former Excel newsgroup question is shown here.

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