Buried Gold: Excel's Form Command
By David H. Ringstrom, CPA
Many users are not aware that Excel has long had a feature that enables you to browse through a table of data one record at a time. As shown in Figure 1, the Form command provides an easy way to navigate through a table of data. This command is easy to access in Excel 2003 and earlier versions, but is deeply buried in Excel 2007. In this article I'll show you how to use the Form command to make quick work of reviewing a list of records.
Figure 1: The Form command allows you to navigate through a table of records.
Enable the Form command
It's easy to use the Form command in Excel 2003 or earlier versions: Select a single cell within a table of data, choose Data, and then Form. While many Excel 2007 users will simply think that the Form command is no longer
available, you can easily uncover it:
- Right-click anywhere on the Ribbon and choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
- Choose Commands Not In the Ribbon, and then scroll down to Form, as shown in Figure 2, or press the letter F four times after you click on.
- Click the Add button, and then click OK.
As shown in Figure 3, you can now click the Form button on the Quick Access toolbar to display the Form window shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2: You must manually add the Form command to your Quick Access toolbar in Excel 2007.
Figure 3: The Form command is now available on the Quick Access Toolbar.
As shown in Figure 1, the Form window has several buttons:
- New: This button allows you to add a new record to the table. Complete the input fields, and then click New again to add a new record to the bottom of your list.
- Delete: This button deletes the record from the list, and cannot be undone.
- Restore: If you've made edits to a record within the Form window, the Restore button will undo your changes. Otherwise your changes are automatically saved when you move to a new record.
- Find Prev: This allows you to navigate to the previous record in the list.
- Find Next: This allows you to navigate to the next record on the list.
- Criteria: You can filter your list to see just certain records, such as the Atlanta region. Click Criteria, add criteria to the corresponding fields, and then click Form to view only records that meet the specified criteria. To eliminate criteria, click the Criteria button, click Clear, and then Form.
- Close: Closes the Form window.
Criteria trick: You can use wild cards, like *es to search just for fruit that ends in "es", like apples, oranges, and mixed berries. You can also use question marks to mask selected characters, like ?o?th GA to view North GA and South GA at the same time, but exclude Mid GA.
David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at email@example.com  or follow him on Twitter . David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link .