PPC Excel Tips For Every Level: Part 1, Huge Time Savers For Beginners (And Beyond)

excel logoExcel is that must-have tool for managing, analyzing and reporting on paid search campaigns that is impossible to know too well. Many of us are self-taught — picking up tips and tricks here and there — which makes it even harder to know what shortcuts and secret powers we’re missing out on.

Yesterday, I spoke with John Gagnon, Bing Ads Evangelist and all-around Excel whiz, and asked him to share some tips for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level tips that paid search managers can start putting to use in 2014. This is the first in a three-part series we’ll be publishing this coming week to usher in the New Year with an extra boost of Excel savvy.

Beginner Tip: Don’t under estimate the time-savings to be gained from Keyboard Shortcuts.

I hesitate to even qualify these as beginner tips because it’s easy to have worked with Excel for years and not know every shortcut.  Rule of thumb: don’t waste time using your mouse if you don’t have to.  Make handy keyboard short cuts a natural part of your work process, and you’ll be amazed how much extra time you’ll have on your hands for actual analysis.

1. Automatically SUM() with ALT + =

John says he’s used the =Sum() formula for years, but recently discovered this function.  Automatically SUM() an entire column or row by clicking in the first empty cell in the column. Then press the ALT button and the = (equals) key to sum up the numbers in the above cells.

Excel Tip Automatically Sum With Keyboard Shortcut2. Copy Formulas with a Double-Click

While not technically a keyboard shortcut, this trick is a huge relief for anyone working with repeating formulas, such as a conversion rate or click-through rate calculations. After entering your formula hover the bottom right corner of the cell with your mouse until a little plus sign appears. Then just double click. The formula will copy down into the cells of that column to calculate the data in the rest of the rows in the spreadsheet.

Excel tips for PPC Double Click To Copy Down Formulas

3. Currency And Percentage Formatting Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are only handy if you can remember them. John points out that there is actually logic behind when to use CTRL and SHIFT in keyboard shortcuts that will help you remember when to use them.

To format a number as a currency without having to use your mouse, the keyboard shortcut is CRTL + SHIFT + 4. Why? Well, Shift + 4 is how you type a dollar sign ($). Adding CTRL will then format the cell (or cells) as currency. The same works for formatting numbers as percent with CTRL + SHIFT + 5.

Excel PPC Tips Number Formatting Keyboard Shortcuts

Excel for PPC Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are links to the complete list of shortcuts for PC & Excel for Mac 2011. The lists are overwhelming, so start small and set 10 minutes a day to learn 2-3 new shortcuts. Happy holidays, and stay tuned for the intermediate and advanced level tips later this coming week.

Have a favorite keyboard short cut? Share it in the comments below.

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About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter



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  • http://www.ppcblast.com/ PPC Blast

    This is such a great post. i am by far a pro in Excel and need to learn as much as possible about how to make it make my life easier. Thanks for this help!

  • Satish

    Woah! This is awesome! I tried on few of my SEO documents, and they are not rocket science at all. Was wondering if you can make one for SEO reports too! :D

  • BlackRock Advertising

    Thanks Mrs ginny. its really working for our marketing team

  • Paresh Shrimali

    Good Post..
    I suggest also more excel shortcut for increasing Excel User Speed.

    Key Description
    CTRL+PgUp Switches between worksheet tabs, from left-to-right.
    CTRL+PgDn Switches between worksheet tabs, from right-to-left.
    CTRL+SHIFT+( Unhides any hidden rows within the selection.
    CTRL+SHIFT+& Applies the outline border to the selected cells.
    CTRL+SHIFT_ Removes the outline border from the selected cells.
    CTRL+SHIFT+~ Applies the General number format.
    CTRL+SHIFT+$ Applies the Currency format with two decimal places (negative numbers in parentheses).
    CTRL+SHIFT+% Applies the Percentage format with no decimal places.
    CTRL+SHIFT+^ Applies the Scientific number format with two decimal places.
    CTRL+SHIFT+# Applies the Date format with the day, month, and year.
    CTRL+SHIFT+@ Applies the Time format with the hour and minute, and AM or PM.
    CTRL+SHIFT+! Applies the Number format with two decimal places, thousands separator, and minus sign (-) for negative values.
    CTRL+SHIFT+* Selects the current region around the active cell (the data area enclosed by blank rows and blank columns).

  • Paresh Shrimali

    Good Post..
    I suggest also more excel shortcut for increasing Excel User Speed.

    Key Description
    CTRL+PgUp Switches between worksheet tabs, from left-to-right.
    CTRL+PgDn Switches between worksheet tabs, from right-to-left.
    CTRL+SHIFT+( Unhides any hidden rows within the selection.
    CTRL+SHIFT+& Applies the outline border to the selected cells.
    CTRL+SHIFT_ Removes the outline border from the selected cells.
    CTRL+SHIFT+~ Applies the General number format.
    CTRL+SHIFT+$ Applies the Currency format with two decimal places (negative numbers in parentheses).
    CTRL+SHIFT+% Applies the Percentage format with no decimal places.
    CTRL+SHIFT+^ Applies the Scientific number format with two decimal places.
    CTRL+SHIFT+# Applies the Date format with the day, month, and year.
    CTRL+SHIFT+@ Applies the Time format with the hour and minute, and AM or PM.
    CTRL+SHIFT+! Applies the Number format with two decimal places, thousands separator, and minus sign (-) for negative values.
    CTRL+SHIFT+* Selects the current region around the active cell (the data area enclosed by blank rows and blank columns).

  • http://www.globalwebforce.com/ William Forrest

    Excel can really help a marketer save time and accommodate more tasks on his to-do list.

  • http://www.globalwebforce.com/ William Forrest

    Excel can really help a marketer save time and accommodate more tasks on his to-do list.

  • Bhushan Parikh

    Great tips and nice post Ginny Marvin…. looking forward to implement it…

  • Chase Anderson

    Another classic example of a non-english speaker writing in english in a way that says exactly the opposite of what they wanted ;). Do you mean “I am far from being a pro in Excel”?

  • Chase Anderson

    Another classic example of a non-english speaker writing in english in a way that says exactly the opposite of what they wanted ;). Do you mean “I am far from being a pro in Excel”?

  • Ian Vaisman

    This is a great article as Excel shortcuts are extremely useful for anyone working with spreadsheets within the PPC space or outside of it.

    Ginny, not to be nitpicking, but I believe in your last table under the “Format” column, the first cell should be “0.1 as $0.10″ instead of “0.1 as $1.00″ Again, great article!

  • John Gagnon

    Glad you liked the tips – they’re very simple for sure. I’ll let Ginny follow-up on the SEO specific list!

  • John Gagnon

    Glad you liked them.

  • John Gagnon

    These are great ones Paresh. Another great set are for navigation:
    CTRL + ⬆ (up)
    CTRL + ⬇ (down)
    CTRL + ⟵ (left)
    CTRL + ⟶ (right)

  • Monica Barber

    Chase – Is it necessary to be so nasty? The person compliments the writer and you blast him because it wasn’t proper English. Real nice dude.

  • Glenn Vinckx

    I love these shortcuts, I use them frequently. Thanks! Can’t wait for more Excel tips!

  • http://www.ppcblast.com/ PPC Blast

    Powerful assumptions Chase. I am an English speaker. Born and raised here in Indiana. Simply a mistake in the post. Thanks for noticing it.

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