Excel Tips for the Event Planner

While there is plenty of specialty software on the market for event planners, at Georgia Tech a lot of our work is done in Microsoft Excel. That does not have to be a bad thing, though. Excel can do amazing work for an event planner; you just have to know the tricks. One trick I have fallen in love with recently is Conditional Formatting.

Conditional Formatting allows you to highlight cells that follow a specific rule. The function can be found under Format in the menu bar or on the Home Ribbon.

Let’s say you have a long R.S.V.P. list and want to check if anyone is double registered. First select the cells you would like it to investigate. I find looking at the name or email address column works best since it is often a unique value. Select Conditional Formatting, Highlight Cell Rules, Duplicate Values.  After confirming your settings, the worksheet will automatically highlight duplicate values.  On our sample list, we can now see that Laura replied twice.

Now that we have eliminated the double entries, we want to see everyone who requested the vegetarian meal. Highlight your Meal Request column and select Conditional Formatting, Highlight Cell Rules, Text that Contains… In the text box, you can enter the full phrase “vegetarian” or just part of the word like “veg” to make sure you do not miss any vegan requests. Confirm your color, then press the OK button to see we have three vegetarian requests for this dinner.

We have one last trick left for our R.S.V.P. list and that is with the number of guests. When composing your seating assignment for a large group, there is a lot of data you need to see at once. Here are a few useful tricks that may help you.

  • To quickly find attendees who have an above average number of guests, select Above Average under Top/Bottom Rules. This works best if most people bring the same number of guests (1 or 2) and you are looking for the person who bought a table (8 or 10 guests).
  • To see each guest number in a different color, select Color Scale.
  • To see you guest numbers as a graph, select Data Bars.

Conditional Formatting is one great trick in Excel that can help event planners work smarter, not harder. What are some good tricks that you have learned to use?