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Instant Lists in Excel 2003

The Excel list, a new element in version 2003, is one of the most fun features you're likely to encounter in this latest go-round of the program. It's sometimes described as a spreadsheet within a spreadsheet. By converting a regular list (such as a data list that keeps track of your employees or clients, expense accounts, and so forth) into this new type of list, you not only automate the sorting and filtering of its data but also make calculations super easy, such as totals and averages on its numeric columns (fields) and counts on any type of column. Best yet, if you share the data in conjunction with Microsoft's new SharePoint Services Web site, Excel lists make publishing to the site and synchronizing the online data with the spreadsheet a veritable breeze.

As you find out in this technique, Excel 2003 lists make it easy to manipulate the data in an existing data list as well as enhance the editing process by always giving you room to add a new row of data and by making the insertion and deletion of new rows and columns in the list as painless as can be.

The other great thing about Excel 2003 lists is that you can keep as many lists as you want on the same worksheet without worrying that editing one will affect any of the others. The only thing you do have to be concerned about is the fact that filtering one data list can affect another one if that list shares the same rows - due to the simple fact that filtering the data in one list necessarily involves hiding entire rows in the worksheet that don't meet the filtering criteria. And this, of course, can temporarily remove the display of data items from a list you're not filtering that just happens to share the same rows with a list you are filtering.