Nicole wanted to clean up a spreadsheet. She already had an answer to the math:

\LARGE \fn_cm \frac{939}{18,732}=5.01\%

Problem: She was doing it in more than one step and was sure things could be more tidy.

Yes. This has a fairly easy solution but small things like this can irritate an Excel user to no end. Years ago, I would hide columns that had intermediate steps … and then I discovered that those types of columns have a name: HELPER COLUMNS

Congrats, Nicole! You’ve stumbled up on Helper Columns.

Here’s a screenshot of the issue:

NOTE: The Helper Column would be “Likes/Reach.” Such columns are useful when you have complex formulae that become a parentheses jungle. It is painful to build and troubleshoot such formulae so, breaking them into 2 or more steps is quite smart.

This formula is small so, let’s ditch the Helper Column.


Here is a 3-minute screencast where I set up the challenge, show one solution, and mention the IFERROR as a way to avoid the  #DIV/0 error. (Those of you who are still using Excel 2003 don’t have IFERROR.)


Nicole is moving forward! Thanks for the question. Send more.

Everyone, have a great weekend, and please keep your data clean.

photo credit: Katayun via photopin cc