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The Ideas feature in Excel quickly creates charts based on insights it spots in your data. If you’re anything like me, you love numbers, but your creative skills are not quite up to par. This means you might find it hard to come up with great looking charts or visuals for your data.
Or you want to see what insights or trends your data holds that you may have missed.
If so, you’ll LOVE using the Ideas feature in Excel.
How does the Excel Ideas Feature Work?
The Ideas feature in Excel uses artificial intelligence to analyze your data and identify trends and insights.
It then organizes this information to generate “Ideas” of visuals – charts and pivot tables – you can use to represent your data.
What Version of Excel do I need for this?
TIP: Even if you’re using a different version of Excel, you can always paste your data into Excel online to see what Ideas are recommended. You can then recreate the visual in your original spreadsheet.
Using the Excel Ideas Feature
How to Format Your Data So You Can Use Ideas
According to Excel, the Ideas feature works best if your data is formatted as a Table with a single header row.
However, I’ve been able to use Ideas without formatting my data as a Table. Just make sure your headers are along the top row of your data set.
So, if the Ideas feature gives you trouble, you may want to try converting your data into a Table and trying again.
How to Convert Your Data into a Table
To convert your data to a Table, place your cursor anywhere inside your data set and either:
- Press Ctrl+T on your keyboard
- Go to your Home tab / in the Styles section / click “Format as Table”
Generate New Ideas from Your Spreadsheet Data
Once your data is formatted correctly, you’re ready to generate new Ideas!
You’ll find the Ideas button in your Home tab.
With your cursor in a cell within your data set, click on Ideas.
Excel will then analyze your data and generate ideas of ways you can display trends and insights based on this analysis.
Initially, four ideas will display, but you can scroll to the bottom of the Ideas list and click to display any other suggestions.
If you want to use any of the recommended visuals, click “Insert” to insert it into your spreadsheet. You can then format and manipulate it like you would any other chart or pivot table.
Ask Excel Ideas Feature a Question
You can also type a question about your data in the box at the top of the Ideas results. Excel will then attempt to create a new visual to answer your question.
FYI, this was created using the desktop version of Excel in Microsoft 365.