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Magically change Excel spreadsheets to visually pleasing flowcharts

July 22, 2014


Excel sucks – make it better

Navigating data in an Excel spreadsheet can be frustrating, especially if you are trying to follow someone else’s spreadsheet. Excel is great for organizing facts and figures, but it does little in the way of explaining someone’s thought process, which is often critical to understanding the data presented. What if you could see someone’s thought process, as well as a visual representation of how facts and figures are related?

Slate is an add-in for Microsoft Excel (2007, 2010, and 2013) that allows you to turn your spreadsheets into a visual flowchart. Simply select a cell and see its in flowchart style. You can expand each level in the visualization to follow the trail of calculations. This is especially helpful when you need to review someone else’s spreadsheet, as it can be difficult to follow someone else’s thought process; with Slate you can document and explain your logic, so when someone else views it your thought process is clear.

It can also help to simplify the error check process in your spreadsheets without feeling overwhelmed by the data. When Slate pulls information to turn it into a graphic, it grabs your spreadsheet’s headers and allows you to quickly zoom through your it by clicking the icon and expanding or collapsing the branches formed by Slate. When you are done reviewing in Slate, you can return to your Excel sheet with one click, by clicking on any cell’s collapsed link.  This allows you to check a great deal of data, quickly and efficiently.

See mistakes, get through this process more quickly

Using Slate allows you to quickly see mistakes, poorly related information, and issues that could be difficult to explain to a client.

It allows you to optimize your spreadsheet without sifting through each cell looking for potential problems. It also gives you the opportunity to explain anything that may be difficult for someone not directly related to the project to understand. Excel helps you organize facts and figures, but Slate takes them a step further connecting the data visually and making it more digestible, in my opinion.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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