14. Tables: List Management Made Easy
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, to a simple list 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 consists 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 them. These tools let you control your tables in stylesorting, searching, and filtering your information with just a couple of mouse clicks. Excel even includes a group of functions expressly designed to analyze the information in tables. But before you can use any of these tools, you have to convert your garden-variety table into a structured table .
In this chapter, you'll learn more about what, exactly, a structured table is, how to create one, and how to make use of all its features and frills.
Note: In previous versions of Excel, the tables feature was called lists . It's still the same feature, but Microsoft developers were so pleased with the improvements they added in Excel 2007 that they decided it deserved a whole new name .Don't confuse structured tables with the variable data tables you used for what-if analysis. These tables have a similar moniker but nothing else in common.