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NACCU Blog: An Excel tip for the card office pro

Andrew Hudson   ||   Dec 02, 2022  ||   

In the latest installment of the National Association of Campus Card Users (NACCU) Positive IDentity Blog, Georgian College's Jen McDonald shares an Excel formula that she can't live without. An Excel enthusiast, McDonald works in Georgian College's ONEcard Office and discovered a helpful formula for the job's accounting demands.

"Before I began my role in the ONEcard Office, I had a basic understanding of Excel and primarily used it for data tracking and quick stats," writes McDonald. "Once I joined the card office, and now needed to add accounting tasks to my list of responsibilities, I quickly realized the value of upping my skill level in all things Excel."

The invaluable Excel formula that she now swears by is the VLOOKUP.

"If you’re already familiar with this little gem, then I likely don’t need to tell you how helpful it can be," says McDonald.

For those unfamiliar, McDonald illustrates the importance of the formula.

"I find myself frequently, in fact on an almost daily basis, needing to combine data from two different sets," she explains. "A few examples would be needing to compare a list of registered students to a list of accounts with balances, or perhaps you want to compare data in your test environment to that of PROD."

That, according to McDonald, is where VLOOKUP comes in. She offers some top tips for maximizing the effectiveness of the formula:

  1. Make sure that the identifier you have chosen is converted to the appropriate format. This can be done by selecting the column, then selecting “Text to columns” in the Data tab.
  2. Ensure that the identifier in each table is in the same column location. For me, I always have it in the first column. For example, if you’re using student/account number because it exists in both sets of data, have the student/account numbers in column A in both tables.
  3. After selecting all of the data in the second table, be sure to press F4. This establishes that you want to check the entire table, and not just the area relative to where the original line occurs.

McDonald concludes her blog entry by soliciting advice from fellow card office pros for their own Excel formula suggestions. "I would love to hear about it! Okay, maybe love is a little strong, but I would certainly find it interesting."

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