Intro to Excel Data Types: This Powerful Tool Puts Reams of Data at Your Fingertips

Intro to Excel Data Types: This Powerful Tool Puts Reams of Data at Your Fingertips

Information gathering is a task that is done every day in offices around the world. An engineering team might be putting together data about terrain in different areas. A restaurant owner may need to look up nutritional values for ingredients in a new health-conscious menu. Someone in the financial industry could be regularly pulling stock data from online sources and pasting them into a spreadsheet.

What all these examples have in common is that they take up valuable time. Time spent looking for reliable information resources first. Then, time spent copying and pasting that information, bit by bit, into a spreadsheet or other document.

According to a report by McKinsey, employees spend an average of 1.8 hours a day (9.3 hours a week) searching and gathering information. 

That’s a considerable amount of time, but many companies aren’t sure how to get around it because certain data is necessary for projects, tasks, marketing, and other operational activities. 

What if you could pull reams of data about a subject in just seconds from a global cloud database? 

Imagine needing to pull statistics on chemical elements or details about local Australian universities and having all the information filled into a spreadsheet in just a few clicks.

That’s what’s possible if you use Excel Data Types in Microsoft 365.

What are Excel Data Types?

Data Types in Excel allow you to classify the data you’re working with. Once classified as something like food, space, universities, or medical data, you can connect to a database from inside that program that allows you to tap into all types of information.

Data Types is a very useful free resource in Microsoft 365.

There are several data classifications, and for each one, you can choose from more than one type of information. For example, if you use the “location” data type, you can look up details about airports, islands, mines, shipwrecks, and more.

Data type options to use in Excel:

  • Anatomy
  • Animals
  • Automatic (automatically detects things like books and other media)
  • Chemistry
  • Cities
  • Currencies
  • Foods
  • Geography
  • Locations
  • Medical
  • Movies
  • People 
  • Plants
  • Space
  • Stocks 
  • Terrain
  • Universities
  • Yoga

Data types have been a feature of Excel for a while, but they only recently became useful for more industries. The feature used to only have two data types, finance and geography. But now with over 15 more types added, the usefulness of this feature is multiplied exponentially and can be a time-saver for just about any business.

Steps for Using Excel Data types

We’ll go through a case scenario below of a health club owner that is facing two time-consuming data finding tasks to explain the steps in using Excel Data Types.

  1. The owner has put together a healthy menu for an on-site café and needs to look up the nutritional value of all those recipe ingredients to include on the menu.
  2. The marketing department for the health club needs to put together a brochure and webpage for a series of yoga classes and needs to look up things like health benefits and difficulty level for each pose.

One might expect both of those tasks to take several days or maybe more than a week to complete.

Here’s how to do them in minutes instead by using Excel Data Types. We’ll start with the healthy menu.

  • Type the data into an Excel column (in this case, it’s a list of food ingredients).
  • Highlight the data and click the Data menu at the top.
  • In the Data Types box, locate and click the “Foods” data type.

  • You’ll see a small icon (in this case, it’s an apple) show up next to your data.
  • Ensure all your data is still highlighted.
  • Click the small database icon that is now displayed at the top of the first selected row.
  • You’ll see several data options to choose from that come from Microsoft’s online databases.
  • Click the one you want, and the data will populate for each selected food into the next empty column on the right.
  • You can do this several times to fill in all the data that you need in seconds. 

Now, let’s do the same thing for the yoga class information.

  • Type the yoga poses into your spreadsheet column.
  • Highlight the information and click the Data Tab.
  • In the Data Types window, click the Yoga type.

  • You’ll see the data type icon appear indicating your data has been read correctly. Note: If you see a question mark instead of the data type icon, you’ll see the right-side panel open asking for more details to enable the system to match the data correctly.
  • Ensure your data is highlighted, and then click the small database icon at the top of the list and choose the data you’d like to populate, one by one.

  • The data populates into the next open column to the right each time, saving you tons of research time.
  • Several data types also include images you can tap into as well.

Learn More Time-Saving Tricks in Microsoft 365

GKM2 can help your Sydney area business uncover all types of time-saving features that are hidden inside Microsoft 365.

Contact us today to learn more. Call +61 2 9161 7171 or reach out online.