Imagine that you have a Google Sheet that you have sorted by a certain column. You might be sorting by the surname of your sales team, class sections or regions. To make the sheet easier to read for your team, you want to alternate the background colors after each category in your sort column is complete.
I have the following list of numbers in column 1 and 2. I have sorted these numbers by my Grouping Column of planets in column 3. After each grouping, I have alternated the background color to make the transition easier to read.
Sometimes you have a need to reverse a list quickly in Google Sheets.
That’s pretty easy to do if the list is sorted alphabetically. Just go on into the <Data> menu and choose from one of the sort functions. But what if the data you want to flip is not in alphabetical or numeric order?
The NOW formula provides a date and time stamp at the time of execution or when the NOW() function is entered into the sheet.
The TODAY formula provides just the date at the time of execution or when the TODAY() formula is entered into the sheet.
That’s all well and good but I want this formula to occur when a user enters something in a cell.
To achieve this, we can use an IF statement. First, we will state if the cell is empty, then no date should appear. However, if the cell has a value in it, then the date and/or time the value was entered will appear in the corresponding cell.
Here’s the formula:
=IF(A2="","",TODAY()) <<Formula is celll D2
ِAs you can see in the IF statement we are saying; if there is nothing in cell A2 then don’t do anything, otherwise if it contains a value then add today’s date in this cell, D2.
Now, if you want to have this ready for all rows for when a user adds to your data, then drag the formula all the way down to the bottom of the sheet.
Here is an example:
Ready to add some data? Here is what is would look like:
The NOW() and TODAY() functions are Dynamic. This means that they will update automatically. To keep these dates from changing, copy the cell and press <CTRL>+<SHIFT>+<V> or paste special> paste as value.
A Warning on NOW() and TODAY()
These two functions are Dynamic and will update constantly. If you are looking to get the date or time of something so that it does not update automatically then check out this tutorial :
Ever been faced with an issue where you can’t move your column to the far left in order to Vlookup? I just came across this issue recently.
The Problem – Vlookup
I needed to add teachers to a list of students who had to move into their class for two tests because their teacher (Hanna John-Kamen) would be absent on the test day.
Essentially, I was splitting the students into the remainder of the classes for that session time. In this student list sheet (Hannah 302-15) I had allocated the students new rooms and each room had a new teacher.
I couldn’t change the teacher proctors test list sheet ( Q2U1 Teacher) because the teachers who reference it would get confused. Unfortunately the teachers name I wanted was in column B and the reference (The Speaking classroom) was in column I.
I need to put my first Vlookup in M2 of the Hannah 302-15 sheet. If I tried to Vlookup it might look like this: =VLOOKUP(L2,‘Q2U1 Teacher’!B:I,–8,False). Where L2 is the class I am searching for in the Hannah 302-15 sheet. ‘Q2U1 Teacher’!B:I is the range where B is the name column and I is the Class number. –8 is clearly wrong. Vlookup will not accept a negative reference (It’s stupid, I know). False: because the list was not sorted.
You know, I’m pretty confident in my use of Google Sheets. I use a lot of it’s advanced features and formulas in my daily work.
But one thing was bugging me. Every time I created a formula and then grabbed and dragged (or double clicked) that little box in the bottom right of the cell to have it repeat, the cells would change.
This normally is great, because it moves by a cell each time and makes my life easier.
What if I want to keep a certain cell constant in a formula?
Enter the Absolute Reference.
The absolute reference allows you to lock either or both aspect of the cell. That is it can lock the column and/or the row. This is done by simply adding a “$” before the column or row. Here is how we do it:
$A$1 – locks both Column and Row
$A1 – locks only the Column
A$1 – locks only the Row
Awesome!!! Now you can drag that little square wherever you want and whatever part of that cell you locked wont change while everything else will.
F4 – The Shortcut From the Gods
So, this is all well and good, but it still means that after I have finished entering the whole formula, I have to go back into the cell and change the cell value with that dollar sign “$”.
F4 to the rescue. You can change the value live here by cycling through $A$1, $A1 and A$1 before continuing with your formula. While completing a formula simply,
click a cell or range you want to get a value from and you want to lock or make an Absolute Reference.
Press <F4> until you get the desired Absolute Reference combination.
Continue with the rest of your formula.
Example – My Fruit Binge
I really love fruit (Okay, I’m ambivalent about fruit, but I am trying to sell the example here!)
I have a list of fruit that I have eaten in the last hour. My wife has caught me with a pile of cores and skins scattered around me and wants me to count how much this food binge cost me in order to make me feel bad.
Of course, I immediately run to my laptop and bring up my list of fruit I just ate. I can also remember how much each item costs (Yep, the example is breaking here, stay with me).
To work out the total costs of what I ate, I will count how many of each item and multiply that by the costs of each item.
Here is my Google Sheet so far:
Lets plug in the formula to count the total number of Bananas.
Things look good so far. In cell G3 I have run countifand selected the range C2:C13. And I only want it to count if the cell contains the text “Banana” which I indicate by cell E3. Finally, in cell H3 I multiply the total number of times Banana appears (G3) by the cost of the item (F3).
The end results:
Just for shits and giggles, lets see how that countif formula will work if I drag it down with that cheeky little box in the bottom right of the cell.
As you can see things have gone a bit Pear-shaped (nailed it!) here. We can see 2 pairs in the list in column C but the formula is only counting one in cell G7.
Let’s take a look at the formula in G7.
We can see here that the range has changed from C2:C13 to C6:C17. That is not helpful at all. We need to make these into an Absolute Reference. The fruit criterion also moved, but we wanted it to come down to read Pear so that is pear-fict (Not so good that time).
Let’s fix this up. We need to change the countif range in cell G3 to an Absolute Reference from C2:C13 to $C$2:$C$13. This is kinda awkward so let’s try that <F4> shortcut out and put in the formula again fresh. To do this I did the following steps.
selected the range C2:c13
hit the magical <F4> button once and it created: $C$2:$C$13
entered a comma: ,
selected the range E3
closed the bracket: )
Looks good. We’ll grab that little box down the bottom again and drag (or double click) it down and see if we get that extra pear.
Boom! It worked. We now see 2 pears counted. Check out that bottom cell. It’s lock in the range value and only changes the fruit criterion.
Just to be pear-dantic (Hey! That was okay!) let’s see how guilty we should be for our fruit binge.