Excel's grid-like main window gives you lots of freedom to organize your information. As you've seen in the chapters so far, tables of data can assume a variety of shapes and sizesfrom complex worksheets that track expenses in an invoice, to simple lists of dishes your guests are bringing to a potluck dinner.
Some tables are quite sophisticated, with multiple levels, subtotals, and summary information. (You'll learn about how to manage these multi-tiered creations in the next chapter.) But in many cases, your table will consist of nothing more than a long list of data, with a single row at the top that provides descriptive column headings. These types of tables are so common that Excel provides a set of features designed exclusively for managing such lists. These tools let you control your lists in stylesorting, searching, and filtering your information with just a couple of mouse clicks. Excel even includes a group of functions expressly for analyzing the information in lists. But before you can use any of these tools, you have to convert your garden-variety list into an Excel data list .
In this chapter, you'll learn how to create a data list and make use of all the features and frills that they provide.