Author: Oscar Cronquist Article last updated on June 29, 2021

 An Excel Table is a very useful feature in Excel, it was introduced in Excel 2007. Earlier versions had this feature as well but it was then known as Excel Lists.

What can an Excel Table do for you? It will simplify your work with data, adding or removing data, filtering, totals, sorting, enhance readability using cell formatting, cell references, formulas, and more. I will go through all this in greater detail, keep on reading.

1. How to create an Excel Table

Follow these simple steps to convert a cell range to a table:

  1. Go to tab "Insert" on the ribbon
  2. Select your data set
  3. Press with left mouse button on the "Table" button on tab "Insert"
  4. Press with left mouse button on the "OK" button if your table has headers, if not deselect the check box and press with left mouse button on "OK". Excel will automatically create headers for you.
  5. You have built an excel table

Tip! Use short cut keys CTRL + T to quickly build a table.

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2. How to name an Excel Table

I recommend you give the table and table headers descriptive names, for example, it will be easier to identify cell references to Excel Tables in formulas. Cell references are called structured references and you can read about these in this article as well.

  1. Select a cell in your table
  2. Excel automatically navigates to tab "Design" on your ribbon
  3. Change table name
  4. Press Enter


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3. How to manipulate Excel Table data

3.1 How to edit an Excel Table value

  1. Doublepress with left mouse button on any cell with left mouse button to start editing an Excel Table value.
  2. Use arrow keys to move the prompt between characters.
  3. Press Enter to apply changes or press CTRL + SHIFT + Enter to create an array formula.

3.2 How to delete an Excel Table value

  1. Press with left mouse button on with the left mouse button on any cell in the Excel Table to select it.
  2. Press Delete on the keyboard to remove the cell value.

3.3 How to add a row

  1. Press with left mouse button on with the left mouse button on any cell in the Excel Table to select it.
  2. Press the Tab key repeatedly until a new row is created.

A new row is created if you press the tab key with the lower right cell in the Excel Table selected. See the animated picture above.

Here is another way to create a new row.

  1. Select any cell right below the Excel Table the cell must be adjacent to the Excel Table for this to work.
  2. Type a value or a formula.
  3. Press Enter.

The Excel Table grows automatically when you add values adjacent to the Excel Table.

3.4 How to add a column

  1. Press with mouse on any cell adjacent to the Excel Table with the left mouse button to select it.
  2. Type a value or formula.
  3. Press Enter or CTRL + SHIFT + Enter.

The table expands automatically when you add values to adjacent cells, see the animated image above.

Add data to a cell adjacent to the table and the table expands automatically.

3.5 How to delete an Excel Table row

  1. Press with right mouse button on on one of the cells on the row you want to delete in the Excel Table.
  2. A popup menu appears, press with left mouse button on "Delete" on the popup menu.
  3. Another popup menu shows up, press with left mouse button on Table Rows.

This deletes the entire Excel Table row, it does not delete other values outside the Excel Table. At least not in Excel 365.

3.6 How to delete an Excel Table column

  1. Press with right mouse button on on any cell in an Excel Table. A popup menu appears.
  2. Press with mouse on "Delete" on the popup menu. Another popup menu shows up.
  3. Press with mouse on "Table Columns" .

3.7 How to delete an Excel Table and keep values

Convert Excel Table to normal range

  1. Press with mouse on any cell in the Excel Table to select it. A tab named "Table Design" appears on the ribbon, this tab is not visible if not a cell in the Excel Table is sleected.
  2. Press with mouse on tab "Table Design" on the ribbon.
  3. Press with mouse on the "Convert to Range" button, see the image above.

Convert Excel Table to normal range2

The image above shows the Excel Table after converting to a normal range of cells. However, the cell formatting is still preserved.

Here is how to remove the cell formatting as well:

  1. Select the entire data set.
  2. Go to tab "Home" on the ribbon.
  3. Press with mouse on "Clear" button. A popup menu appears.
  4. Press with left mouse button on "Clear Formats".

Convert Excel Table to normal range3

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4. How to sort an Excel Table

Sorting a table is easy, press with left mouse button on any black triangle located at each header, a menu appears allowing you to quickly sort data in a descending or ascending order.

An arrow next to the black triangle indicates sort order. Sort Z to A (descending) shows you an arrow pointing down.

You can also sort on multiple columns, follow these steps.

  1. Press with right mouse button on on a cell
  2. Press with left mouse button on Sort and then press with left mouse button on "Custom Sort..."
  3. Select column name to sort on and sort order then add more columns.
  4. Press with left mouse button on OK button to apply sort settings to table

The following article demonstartes how to sort a values in an excel defined table using a macro:

Sort values in an Excel table programmatically [VBA]

This article demonstrates how to sort a specific column in an Excel defined Table based on event code. The event […]

Sort values in an Excel table programmatically [VBA]

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5. How to filter an Excel Table

  1. Press with mouse on a black triangle next to any header
  2. Select values you want to filter
  3. Press with left mouse button on OK button

See animated picture below.

Excel allows you to apply filters to multiple columns easily, repeat above steps with another column.

Use the search field to quickly find the value you want to filter, see picture below.

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6. How to insert a total to an Excel Table and sum using a condition

You can quickly sum values using table filtering.

Select a cell in the table, then go to tab "Design" on the ribbon.

Press with left mouse button on "Checkbox" to enable "Total Row".

A row with totals appears on your table (332), see picture above.

Now filter the table, see instructions on picture below.

See how the total changes from 332 to 175.

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7. How do structured references work?

You are probably used to cell references like this one:

=SUM(E3:E6)

Creating a cell reference to a table column returns this instead, see picture below.

First the table name (Inventory) and then the column name enclosed with brackets [Price].

What is the purpose of structured references? The amazing thing with structured references is that if you add or remove values to a table the structured reference stays the same, no need to update cell references. In other words, they are dynamic.

7.1 Reference an entire Excel Table

reference entire excel table

The following structured reference returns the entire Excel Table including the column header names.

Formula in cell B9:

=Table1[#All]

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7.2 Reference Excel Table data

reference excel table data

The following structured reference returns all Excel Table data, however, no the column header names.

Formula in cell B9:

=Table1

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7.3 Reference all column headers

reference excel table column headers

The following structured reference returns all Excel Table column header names.

Formula in cell B9:

=Table1[#Headers]

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7.4 Reference a column

reference excel table column

The following structured reference returns all Excel Table data from a given column.

Formula in cell B9:

=Table1[East]

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reference excel table column and column header name

The following structured reference returns all Excel Table data from a given column including the column header name.

Formula in cell B9:

=Table1[[#All],[East]]

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7.5 Reference a value on the same row

reference excel table value on the same row

The following structured reference returns an Excel Table value from a given column but on the same row as the formula is entered on.

Formula in cell G4:

=Table1[@North]

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8. How to use a formula in an Excel Table

The following example demonstrates what happens if I type a formula in an excel table. I want to multiply cell E3 with F3 in cell G3, see animated picture below.

Excel creates these structured cell references in cell G3 if I type = (equal sig) and then press with left mouse button on cell E3, type * (asterisk) and then press with left mouse button on cell F3:

=[@['#]]*[@Price]

@ (at) means cell value on same row as formula.

Excel also calculates the remaining cells in column G automatically, see animated picture above.

Creating a reference to the entire excel table and headers returns this: =Inventory[#All]

A reference to data in table looks like this: =Inventory

A reference to a table column returns: =Inventory[Warehouse]

A reference to a column header only looks like this: =Inventory[[#Headers],[Warehouse]]
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9. How to change Excel Table formatting

  1. Select a cell in excel table
  2. Go to tab "Design" on the ribbon
  3. Hover over a table style and see your table change

  4. If you like it press with left mouse button on it to select it
  5. Press with left mouse button on the black triangle to se even more table styles

You can also build your own table style.

  1. Select a table cell
  2. Go to tab "Design"
  3. Press with left mouse button on black triangle
  4. Press with left mouse button on "New Table Style..."
  5. Enter a name for your table style
  6. Select a table element you want to change
  7. Press with left mouse button on "Format" button
  8. Format as you like
  9. Press with left mouse button on OK button twice

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10. How to show Excel Table totals

  1. Press with mouse on a cell in an excel table
  2. Go to tab "Design"
  3. Press with left mouse button on "Total Row" check box
  4. Press with left mouse button on cell G7 and then on black triangle
  5. You can change how value in cell G7 is calculated, the menu has these formulas: Average, Count, Count Numbers, Max, Min, Sum, StdDev, Var and More Functions.
  6. If you press with left mouse button on "More Functions" a dialog box opens with formulas to choose from.

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11. List all tables in workbook - Named ranges

The Name Manager contains a list of all named ranges and Excel tables in your workbook.

  1. Press with left mouse button on the "Formula" tab on the ribbon.
  2. Press with left mouse button on "Name Manager" button.

    There are only Excel Tables in this workbook so the dialog box shows the Excel Table names, there are no named ranges in this workbook. See the image above.

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12. How to link a chart to an Excel Table

Combine chart and table to make use of dynamic cell references while filtering data.

More details here: How to create a dynamic chart
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13. How to link a drop-down list to an Excel Table (Data validation)

The following animation shows you a data validation list linked to a table.

Read this post if you are interested in the details:
How to use a table name in data validation lists and conditional formatting formulas
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14. Working with a filtered Excel Table

If you try to use a filtered table as a data source in a formula you are in for trouble, see animated picture below.

As you can see above the SUM function sums all values in table regardless of filtered or not.

I have written a few articles about this:

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15. How to quickly find an Excel Table in a workbook

Excel lets you quickly focus on a table if you type the table name in the name box.

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