Microsoft has announced that it would improve Excel’s autocomplete, at least in the web version included with Microsoft 365. (formerly known as Office 365). It unveiled formula recommendations and formula by example last week, both of which may assist automate some tasks that you previously had to accomplish manually.
Formula suggestions do exactly what they say: if you enter the equal sign into a cell, Excel for web will try to intelligently advise what sort of formula you should use based on the data surrounding it. For example, if you have a spreadsheet consisting of quarterly sales figures and a column labeled “total” at the conclusion, Excel may advise summing the range of cells. According to a Microsoft blog post, the feature is currently only available in English and will recommend sum, average, count, counta, min, and max formulas. To be fair, it’s hardly a novel tool — Google Sheets has had something similar for a while, and Excel’s AutoSum has long been a rapid method to apply formulas to data — but it might be a time saving in some circumstances.
Then there’s Formula by Example, which, like the Flash Fill tool, can recognize patterns in data and automatically fill up the rest of a column. The function is difficult to describe clearly, but a Microsoft video gives you a sense of what it’s about: recognizing a pattern where you’re blending information from cells and then automatically creating a formula that will save you some typing.
Microsoft’s blog post also contains a number of additional feature announcements.
A feature for inserting photos with alt-text into tables is coming to Windows, Mac, and web, and the business is also bringing nested Power Query data types and the ability to get data from dynamic arrays to the Windows Insider version for testing. Another potentially valuable (and luckily simple to use) feature coming to the web is “suggested links,” which will automatically assist you in repairing broken links to other workbooks saved in the cloud.