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In our lesson today on Microsoft excel office , we will be looking at the Data Tab in Excel 2007.  Using this tab, you can import data from external sources including but not limited to a text files, Microsoft Access databases, web pages, xml documents, Microsoft Query, Microsoft SQL Server databases.  We will show you how to import data from a Microsoft Access database and also from a text file.

The data tab has the following groups that you can utilize:

Get External Data Group
Connections Group
Sort & Filter Group
Data Tools Group
Outline Group

Here is a screen shot of the Data Tab in Microsoft Excel 2007.

Get External Data :

Go ahead and launch Microsoft Excel and open up a new workbook using the Office button.  Next select From Access command on the Get External Data group.  When you click on this, a new dialog box will pop up.  Select your data source which will be a Microsoft access database and then click Open. 

For our practice today, we'll be using a wedding database (Wedding.accdb) from My Documents folder. We have included a screen capture of this step right below.

Next you will get the Select Table dialog box where you can choose the actual table.  We will choose Expenses table from the wedding database and then click OK.  This action is shown as follows.

After you click OK, another next dialog box titled Import Data will pop up.  This is where you can select what type of data will you be using for the import. In addition you can choose the location in your worksheet where you would like to place the imported data. 

We will just select Table and Existing worksheet (cell A1) as our choices.

Microsoft Excel 2007 will go ahead and imported the data into our existing worksheet now.  In addition the imported data came in as an Excel table format.  An Excel table automatically provides you some nice graphical effects along with a header row with built-in filtering capabilities. 

You can see the header row in blue background with drop down arrows in the figure below.  This Excel table is independent of the data in rest of your Excel sheet.  We will come back to this wedding data in a bit.

Let's try to import more data into our Excel workbook, this time maybe using a text file.  We have a customer list on our computer in the form of a text file and would like to get this information into Microsoft Excel 2007.  This time choose From Text on the Get External Data group. 

Included is a display of this steps from our computer screen.

Next you will get the Import Text File dialog box shown as follows.  Go ahead and select the customers file while is Customers.txt in our case. Lastly click on Import. 

This process will start the Text Import Wizard which will guide you through the data import process.  In step 1, the wizard will try to figure out if you are using data in fixed width or delimited format.  Our text file is in delimited format so we will choose that option as shown below.  

After that go ahead and click Next .

In Step 2 of the wizard, you can choose what type of character is being used for delimiting the data.  In our case we are using comma, so we will go ahead and select Comma check box.  This Delimiter choice is also validated in the Data preview pane which it looks good. Go ahead and click Next. 

This is captured by the monitor screen shot right here.

In the final step of the wizard, you can select the data type for each of the fields that you are importing. A data type defined what type of information is being used in a column or field. The wizard recommends General as a good choice so we will pick this setting for all of our columns to keep things simple.  

Here is what this step looks like an action.

The last piece of information the wizard wants to know is the location of this customer data.  We will select Existing worksheet with cell A1 as our location.  Finally we will hit OK to start the actual import process.

The wizard was successful in importing the customer data to our Excel workbook as shown in the figure below. 

The first row has all the correct column headings like FirstName, LastName, Address information etc.  In addition notice that this data is in Sheet 2 of our workbook.

Connections Group :

Moving onto the next group which is Connections .  When I clicked on this command it brought up a dialog box titled Workbook Connections.  This is shown in the screen capture below. 

You will see that both of our imported files, Wedding (from Access database) and Customers (text file) are listed here.  This is also where you can set additional properties of your data sources and refresh them if you like.

Sort & Filter group :

The next group of commands falls under the Sort and Filter group as highlighted below. 

Using this tab, you can sort and filter your data on one or more columns.  Let us say that we want to sort the wedding expenses information by the CategoryLookup column in an ascending order.  You can select that column and then click on the first icon which is Sort A to Z .  It will go ahead and sort all the information by the CategoryLookup values with Beverages on the top and Thank your gifts on the bottom. 

Here’s the end result of this action shown below, Very cool!

What if you wanted to sort on multiple fields instead of one? No problem. 

Go ahead and click on the Sort command (square) to launch the sort dialog box as visible right below.  You will see that you already have the CatergoryLookup listed here.  Click on Add Level command and choose Vendor and then click OK. 

Now Microsoft Excel 2007 will go ahead and sort the wedding data on two fields instead of one!

We have included the screen shot display of this functionality in action.  Notice that for category Clothes – J , we have the Vendors listed in an ascending order. This is exactly what we wanted.

If for whatever reason, you wanted to go back to your original data without any sort functionality, you can simply click on the Clear command under the Sort and Filter group present on the Data Tab.  This will go ahead and remove any sorting and take you back to the original worksheet. 

Here’s the Clear command highlighted in red rectangle.

Data Tools and Outline :

The next two groups of commands Data Tools and Outline discuss some advanced topics so we will go over important items only. 

Let us take a look at Text to Columns command under the Data Tools.  Using this command, you can separate the combined data into separate columns.  This can be useful if somehow the data was imported in an incorrect format.  I have included similar customer information shown right below in.  Notice that all this data got jumbled up and needs to be broken down by columns.

Using the Text to Columns command in Excel 2007, we were able to split the data into their respective fields.  We have skipped some of these steps here as they are very much similar in nature to when we did the text file import. 

However we have included the end result in the screen capture below for your information. Notice this looks a lot better than the our initial data import where the same information was unorganized.

Another beneficial command in this group is the ability to removed duplicates or redundant data.  There are times when you have duplicated data that needs to be cleaned up. Being a database administrator myself, I run into this particular issue from time to time!

I have copied the data under the CategoryLookup column and inserted it into an new worksheet to help you understand this concept.  Notice all of the duplicates below like Beverages, Ceremony, Clothes - J etc.

In order to remove duplicate, first we need to select the column. When you click on the Remove Duplicates command under Data Tools, you will get the Remove Duplicates dialog box as visible right here.  Since in our case, we only have one column, CategoryLookup, we are going to go ahead and Select All and then click OK.

The result of this action is really cool!  It went ahead and removes all the duplicates and ended with a list of distinct categories. This is a true time saver when you have redundant information and need to clean up the data fast.

Here is the updated list shown in the Worksheet below.

Outline Group :

The last command that we are going to discuss here is Grouping of rows or columns under the Outline group .  This comes in handy when you have a complicated Excel workbook with lots of information.  In those times, it makes sense to collapse and expands rows or columns of information. 

We are going to use the customer list and pretend that it is really complicated.  Maybe it would make sense to group the data by state.  First we can filter our data by the state column, and then we can select all the rows in one state (FL) as shown below.  Next we are going to go ahead and click on the Group command.

There is a screen capture of the command shown below.

This will create a group and highlight the controls in the left margin.  Now when you click on the - (minus) icon, Excel 2007 will collapse your group to conserve space. The customers from FL are still there but are now hidden.

The first step is highlighted below in the screen capture.

After a group has been collapsed, you will see a + (plus) sign in the left margin.  Notice that the data related to the Florida state is now hidden.  We can easily bring this data back by using the + sign, which is used to expand the group.  In a similar fashion you can also group column information if you so desire

This concludes the tutorial on the data tab in microsoft excel office.