Microsoft Excel is finally making formulas smarter, and easier

Microsoft Excel has announced a handful of changes that are set to make formulas easier to use and even more powerful. 

The spreadsheet software updates are centered around web users, which covers all Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) users, even those without access to the full desktop clients, with a few updates padding out the list of Windows and macOS client features, too.

The first change for web users is the introduction of formula suggestions, which takes into account contextual data to suggest a handful of supported formulas, including SUM, AVERAGE, COUNT, COUNTA, MIN, and MAX.

Excel formula suggestions

For now, it will only be available to accounts set up in English. Microsoft hopes this will not just save its users time, but allow them to “learn more about Excel formulas as [they] use them.”

The second major change is what the company calls formula by example, and resembles a type of autofill. After a user completes a series of similar entries, the web version of Excel can now suggest content for remaining cells based on their previous actions.

Further improvements to the way Excel can now handle data include a tool that can detect broken cloud workbook links so that the data in your spreadsheet remains up-to-date and functioning, and a new search bar in the queries pane for quicker navigation.

Finally, Excel web now supports images inside cells, whereas they previously floated on top of the sheet: a change that was first spotted on the company’s roadmap in early November 2022. Pulling an image from a source location brings metadata like alternative text, too. This is now available on Windows and macOS versions of the Excel desktop client, too.

According to the blog post, the features are rolling out which means that some users may not be able to use the updates just yet, and some features are just reserved for Windows Insiders.

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