My Excel Skills Can Not Be Equalled
Update 3 November 2006 by Amazing Ben
A couple years ago I wrote an article mentioning how much I rule at Microsoft Excel. However, despite how well-written and insightful that article was, strangely enough there were still people out there who doubted my ability to Excel the holy living bejeezus out of anyone who ever lived. They wanted definitive proof of my skills; they wanted me to demonstrate what separates your common every-day downtrodden office bitchwork employee from a Level 50 Excel Master.
The first challenge I received came several months after the article was written, appearing in the form of an email from a midwestern mother and her teenage daughter. The mother was going to get back into the workforce and was hoping to brush up her skills, and the daughter wanted to garner some critical Excel knowledge to help her through college. So in an attempt to witness my unparalleled skills, and hopefully learn something in the process, they responded to the challenge I had posted along with my article. (For those of you who don't recall, I offered to take a regular, boring-ass spreadsheet and make it awesome). They emailed me the following file:
Click Here to Download A Boring Microsoft Excel File (Microsoft Excel Required)
For those of you out there who, for some strange and unholy reason, have computers that are not blessed with the presence of the Most Holy Microsoft Excel, here is a screenshot of a spreadsheet so boring that you may actually develop a severe and permanent case of crippling narcolepsy just by looking at it:
This is a perfect example of how totally fucking lame a spreadsheet can be when you really put your mind to it. The color scheme resembles that of a crappy dilapidated warehouse in some sort of post-apocalyptic low-budget Sci-Fi flick. Jesus, I think I very nearly fell asleep just looking at it. There's also more white in this damn file than there was in Scarface's living room, and the only real difference between looking at this boring spreadsheet and smashing yourself in the face with a hammer is that the spreadsheet is so bad that it might actually give you flashbacks. Here's a closer look.
Now I have no fucking clue what is going on here. It makes about as much sense to me as a technical manual on cybernetics or one of those Japanese game shows where the guys get punched in the balls by a girl in a giant pink muppet costume. But I did my job and made even a spreadsheet as boring as this rock so hard that it probably fractured this chick's monitor when she opened the file.
After sending the file back and receiving my much-deserved kudos for saving the careers of two very nice midwestern women, I mostly sat back and forgot about it. After all, it's fairly commonplace for me to make things that are awesome, so over time I've become desensitized to things that totally kick ass. So the file I created sank into the darkest recesses of my hard drive - to that area only inhabited by old Warcraft II save game files and low-quality 1980's porn clips. Until recently, that is.
Earlier this week my friend Jess sent me a super-hostile e-mail calling me a "fucking douchebag who probably couldn't Excel his way out of a wet paper bag in a rain storm on the Moon". She started going on about how she was a professional statistician and knew all sorts of crazy (and probably fictional) functions, and how she could type up a list of all the functions she knew how to do, print it out, and the finished product would be heavy enough to crush my skull. She then told me she was the Queen of Excel and that if I dared challenge her I would be completely destroyed by her limitless power.
Of course, this sort of affront was not something I was going to sit back and tolerate - I don't need no functions to know how to ROCK! I had to flex my spreadsheet muscles and once again assert my Excel Dominance over anyone who would seek to unseat me. So I dug back into the files, pulled out this gem, and unleashed it's full might upon the world. Below is the spreadsheet that will alter your view of the world forever.
I hope you're sitting down for this.
Click Here to Download An Awesome Excel File (It may help to turn on some sort of epic music before opening this)
The important thing here is that you don't freak out by looking at this gigantic heap of unavoidable awesomeness. Try to take some deep breaths, and do your best to try and make sure your head doesn't explode from all the badassitude that this spreadsheet constantly emanates. Go to your "happy place". Try to curb the tears of joy until after the presentation is finished.
Of course it's understandable that this Pillar of Awesome will be a little bit overwhelming at first. So in order to help you all through the difficult process of having your minds completely blown to the back of the auditorium, I'm going to break the spreadsheet down and explain it piece by piece. This will not only help you cope with the bitchin-ness of the worksheet, but will also give you some tips and tricks as to how to spice up your own Excel documents.
I decided to alter the header on this spreadsheet to reflect the fact that what the reader is about to experience is in fact so X-Treme that it may actually literally KILL THEM. This not only serves as a disclaimer preventing me, the author, from any sort of death-by-xtremeness related lawsuits (I used upside-down exclamation points to convey this point to my Spanish-speaking readers as well), but also gives the reader a brief opportunity to brace themselves for the computer equivalent of having a Mack Truck full of guitar-playing fiery ninja pirate babes crash into their faces at two thousand miles per hour.
As if that's not bitchin' enough, the second line shows the current date ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Like now I'll always know that I took this screenshot on October 30th, 2006 because if I opened the file today it would say NOVEMBER 3rd, 2006. Is it magic? Is it the direct result of some sort of crazy pact I made with the almighty Satan where I sold my soul in exchange for god-like powers over computer spreadsheets? Hell no, BITCH. It's fucking straight-up formulas, O.G.-style. Y'all can't touch my mad Excel skillz. I'm like the Doctor Dre of office productivity.
Like I said, I have no freaking clue what the deal is with this spreadsheet. I mostly just changed the headers around and tweaked the colors a little bit. I really think it makes the information pop out of the screen at you, and the inclusion of row headers seems to do a good job of further clarifying what the information in the column is supposed to represent.
On the left-hand side I felt the need to indicate some sort of enthusiasm for the subject matter. I feel that "BIG TIME" and "RAD" efficiently convey this. At the top of the right-hand side, I also included a column for "Ballz Out", with the answer currently being displayed as "Yes". This is a critical component of any Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, since it quickly answers one of the reader's questions. Now, when someone opens this file and is curious as to whether or not this spreadsheet is in fact Ballz Out, they will easily be able to determine that it in fact is such.
Summing It All Up
When creating a spreadsheet, it's important to include a section that sums up what the reader is looking at. In this instance, I kept the "total quarters" and "running total" columns my friends placed in their original file. While I'm not entirely certain why they would need to know this information, it was obviously important enough for them to write a formula for it so it was the least I could do to preserve their data. I did change the font color and highlight it in yellow to make it stand out from the standard fuscia-and-seafoam color scheme I decided to go with in this document.
The pink boxes in the second line from the bottom are where I show how awesome I am at the formula thing. I'm so awesome at it, in fact, that I don't even really remember how I came up with the numbers "10005" and "67". I'm like 95% sure that the 10,005 is the sum of every number on the entire spreadsheet, and the "67" indicates that there are in fact sixty-seven different boxes on the sheet that include numbers. It's either that, or 10,005 is the sum of all the dates. I think. Genius can't be bothered with this sort of thing.
Adding a Little Something Extra
One of the many, many things about the original spreadsheet that made me want to carve my eyes out with a grapefruit spoon was how much boring ass white space there was all over the place. I mean, come on! There are plenty of good, interesting things you can include to spice things up. For instance, I decided to indicate how awesome I am with a pair of matching banners on either side of the data tables. This not only serves to spice up the file with some color and content, but also further reinforces the fact that I fucking rule at this. While some people believe that the difference between genius and insanity is measured by success, I personally believe that it is measured by conviction. And nothing says conviction like a hugeass fucking green marble banner with "I am awesome" written on it in all caps.
As for the other pictures, I felt that the middle two columns in the original document were severely lacking in interest. Sure, they were only serving as place holders to separate two columns of data, but why subject your readers to looking at fucking boring ass white boxes when you could give them something interesting, like a Vietnamese flag, a homicidal ninja or a picture of some guy looking contemplatively at a pile of dead fish?
Graphs and charts are yet another way of summing up the data the viewer is looking at. Now I don't have any idea where the numbers on the X and Y axes are coming from, but I feel that the graph really ties everything together in an ambiguous and surreal neo-futurist sort of way. I chose to blend the color from red to a sort-of puke green to symbolize how this spreadsheet is so awesome that it will make you barf. I also labeled the axes in ways that would be interesting and exciting to the viewer. Above the data, I indicated my heartfelt and sincere desire for the reader to have severe difficulty in breathing because the graph obstructed their throat and caused a lack of oxygen intake to the lungs.
It's the little things that count in many spreadsheets, and I chose to delete the sheet's original name of "Sheet1" and change it to the more descriptive "¡¡Radical!!". This way, if more worksheets are added later to the workbook, it will be easy to remember which tab contains the greatest spreadsheet in history. It's small things like this that can dramatically increase user experience and make you a top-level Excel Master such as myself.
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