Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
Weblog about cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore.
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Mon 17 Jan 2005

Why merge cells in Excel?

Category : mac and the internet

Some students love to merge cells in Excel data files to improve the appearance of the worksheet. However, this prevents sorting and analysis of the data, in contradiction of the possible and often intended use of the worksheet. Its a worrying indication of the absence of understanding what the data is for, or how it could be used. Or perhaps its simply ignorance of how excel can be used for more than just creating convenient tables - an earlier lesson I conveyed when they sent me tabulated data in word files. This page might offer some insight, but I think there is more out there somewhere.

Merged cells can be un-merged, but this may result in data loss. Thankfully Excel warns you before this happens. In which case there is the tedious job of shifting data, un-merging culprit cells and copying it back to the right place.

If a worksheet harbors some merged cells, you have to unearth each one and unmerge them before sorting can be achieved. I haven't figured out how to do this easily as there is no format button in my find window, and this "Merged Cell Finder" macro didn't work due to some syntax error.

I didn't try it this time because I selected all cells and unchecked the "format> cells> alignment" button. Since I didn't get a warning, I could assume no data was lost. I think. It's unnerving, so I kept a copy of the original sheet just in case.

Since it's about the fifth time in two weeks this has happened, making me wonder if its me or them, what I actually wanted to do, of course, was wring the neck of the person who merged the unknown cell. But that wouldn't be polite.

Posted at 10:42AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .