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Transitioning from Excel - Part 2: Lists
Transitioning from Excel - Part 2: Lists

Using Coda to track and manage Excel lists

Updated over a week ago

Inside this article

Many of us get started using Excel for tracking and managing information - it acts like a super list. Let's explore how you can give your Excel lists even more superpowers using Coda. 

Working with rows

A critical difference between Excel and Coda is what the smallest unit you'll work with is. In Excel, the smallest unit is a cell, hence why you'll find yourself calling on coordinates in your formulas. Since Coda is a database at heart, the smallest unit is a row. What this buys you is the ability to take all of the contextual details of an item with you, and you can drag and drop rows and columns around as you see fit. For example, dragging and dropping tasks as their status changes:

Referencing information

And, because these rows act as one unit, that means you can mention them across your doc by typing the @symbol. This creates a reference to that piece of data so you can hover over it and get all the relevant information about it:

Text and tables together

Since Excel is primarily a grid, you have to stretch its limits to allow for text using merging, wrapping, and cell formats. 

In Coda, you can have your cake and eat it too, by inserting Tables in the middle of your text, and also calling on those tables in text using Coda's formulas.

Color coding

In Excel, you manually apply color coding using the ribbon menu:

While this lets you customize the look and feel of your spreadsheet, it does rely on you remembering to update formatting as you go. In Coda, we save you that brain space, by letting you build in color coding based on various rules you want your table to follow using conditional formatting. If you've dug deep into Excel, you'll have found this capability, but we make it front and center with easy autopopulation of the building blocks you have to work with. And, since Coda is a database, you don't have to build connections up front as you would in Excel to have it work out. For example, if I want to see all of my urgent items in red, I'll set that up in my conditional formatting menu:

You can add font colors, background highlights, and font formatting!

Filter and sort

In Excel, you filter and sort from the Data menu:

In Coda, you'll find table by table menus for both of these as well. If you open the options tab for your table, you'll be able to group and sort your data as needed:

You can then apply filters as you see fit using any and all formulas:

Or you can use the interactive filter picker instead of writing the formulas yourself:

Creating views to answer your questions

Where filters get particularly powerful for you is when you combine them with Views in Coda. Rather than having to filter your core table every time you need to answer a question, you can make pre-built views of that core data so you have all the information you need right at your fingertips.

For example, all of the tasks that are urgent:

Or all tasks assigned to a specific team:

Or, a timeline layout (sometimes referred to as a "Gantt chart"):

Now, you can work from any of these views and know that your updates spread across all other views and tables. 

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