Spreadsheet Wisdom: Teaching and Learning with Excel

What I’ve learned from working with the Penn community – students and faculty – is that Excel can be customized to projects across vastly different disciplines. If you’ve been to one of my workshops, you’ve probably heard me say that the best way to deal with Excel is to learn to “think like Excel.” Approaching problems like a computer program can not only help give you new perspective but it can also provide a practical method for troubleshooting Excel’s functionality on your own.

If you can figure out what Excel is missing or misinterpreting that is making your data look funny, you can go in an quickly fix the isolated issue. This takes some initial practice but can be accomplished with a bit of patience and the help of Penn Libraries’ newly updated Excel guide. Here you’ll find sample files and notes to guide you through performing tasks ranging from basic to advanced.

Tips and Tricks

Below is a list of spreadsheet wisdom covering frequently asked questions and a few tips and tricks for optimizing your Excel workflow.

Hidden Commands

  • In Excel, commands can often be found in multiple places. If you can’t find the button you’re looking for in the top ribbon, try right clicking to see what Excel suggests.

Chart/Graph/PivotTable

Resize 01---Chart
To add a graph to your sheet, simply click and drag to select the data, navigate to insert on the top ribbon and choose whether you want a table, chart, or PivotTable.

Paste Special

Resize 02--PasteSpecial
Remember when pasting charts into other Office programs that they remain dynamic using a simple paste, meaning the chart will change if you edit the spreadsheet data. To create a static chart, go to paste special and choose a picture format (JPEG or PNG).

Freeze Panes

Resize 03---FreezePane
Freeze panes to allow a header row or column by navigating to view in the top ribbon and selecting freeze panes.

Functions

Resize 04---Fx
Insert a function by clicking on the fx button beneath the top ribbon. You can select cells by clicking and dragging after choosing the mathematical function you’d like.

Autofill

05 - AutoFill
Autofill data by hovering over any corner of a cell until you see a black cross then click and drag to where the cells you’d like to populate.
  • Autofilling formulas automatically adjusts the cell references.
  • Autofilling number series or days of the week automatically fills in the next member of the set.

Filters

Resize 06---Filter
Add filters by selecting the first cell in the column you’d like to sort and then selecting filter from the sort & filter menu on the home ribbon.

When using Excel, keep in mind that this program can function as a calculator, chart maker, list creator, and more! If you think there should be a way to perform a task in Excel, there probably is. Be patient while exploring and experimenting with different ways to manipulate the data. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from WIC if the problem becomes too time consuming. We can always be reached at wic1@pobox.upenn.edu.

Join Us as an Intern at the Penn Libraries!

Are you a graduate student?  Do you love libraries?  Are you interested in learning new skills and being part of a great team?  If you said yes then you may be just who we’re looking for!

This summer we’re excited to introduce a completely redesigned graduate internship program offered at the Penn Libraries.  This year-long program begins on June 1 and will bring together 10 interns whose work will focus in on 8 distinct specializations:

Interns from multiple departments in the Teaching, Research, and Learning directorate, including WIC and the EC, will come together as one cohort under a unified internship program.  We believe that this will create a better, more comprehensive educational experience for all of our interns but also provide them with a sense of community among a group of peers that can enhance the internship experience.  

All interns will spend one-third of their time serving as the front line on the Van Pelt Library Information Desk.  The other two-thirds of their time will be devoted to tasks and projects dedicated to their specializations.  Throughout the year, they’ll also be given opportunities to meet other librarians and library staff so they can learn more about the diverse range of knowledge and skills that are employed in the library.  

We’re looking forward to giving our interns a full and well-rounded experience of the library while providing them with a chance to build upon their strengths and interests.  Creating opportunities for them to collaborate more closely with library staff, work on projects that align to their future goals, and potentially discover new avenues for their career is an exciting prospect for us.  

Please don’t hesitate to apply if you do not fit the mold of a traditional library student! With so many different intern positions, there are options available for both library school students and individuals pursuing other graduate programs.

We are accepting applications through May 15 so apply today if you want to be part of our first cohort!  And if you know of someone who may be interested, please share the word!

Links:
Penn Libraries HR Internships
Promotional Flyer

 

Van Pelt Study Breaks

Study Breaks are once again hitting Van-Pelt Dietrich Library Center and the Education Commons to close out the semester and get you through finals. This end-of-semester tradition is designed to provide a fun outlet for the stress finals and papers can bring. This year you can find a variety of activities and snacks throughout the library.

Snacks and beverages will be available to refuel study sessions in the Weigle Information Commons Seminar Room (Room 124) and at the Education Commons. There will also be board games and adult coloring books to help you relax. Come de-stress at WIC and the EC all week. Study breaks are held as follows:

  • At the Education Commons: Every day Sunday, 4/30 to Saturday 5/6 at 3pm 
  • At the Weigle Information Commons:
    • Sunday, 4/30 at 1pm
    • Monday, 5/1; Tuesday, 5/2; and Wednesday 5/3 at 4:30pm
    • Friday, 5/5 at 2pm
    • Saturday, 5/6 at 1pm.

Dog Days are back as well! Therapy dogs will dog_days_april_24be in the Meyerson Conference Room on the 2nd floor of Van Pelt on Monday, 5/1 from 1-3pm and Tuesday, 5/2 from 1-3pm. In addition to dogs and snacks, Student Health Services will provide non-canine relaxation tips. You can find more details about the events here. Remember – The dogs love seeing you as much as you enjoy petting them. Be sure to stop by and make these dogs’ days!

No registration is necessary for any study break and all members of the Penn community are welcome.

Students, We Want Your Voices!

focusgroups

WIC is turning 11 years old this month, and we’re planning to give the space a refresh! If you are an undergraduate who studies at WIC, we’d like to hear your voice. We are holding student focus groups throughout April to get feedback on how we might improve our spaces and services to better accommodate student needs.

We will have Insomnia Cookies and giveaways for all who attend! Please register for a session below. All focus groups will be held in the WIC Seminar Room (Rm 124).

Digital Fluencies / Web Design / SEO workshops at Weigle this month!

This month is packed full of workshop goodness at Weigle!  To help you build your web presence and take control of your digital footprint, graduate interns Chava Spivak-Birndorf and Jaime Marie Estrada are teaching a series of complementary workshops on social media, digital fluencies, and web design.

Here’s are some quick tips to give you a small preview of the topics we’ll discuss:

1. Use consistent branding.
Name and image recognition is very important online when you’re competing with so many millions of other people and brands for milliseconds of attention.  For personal branding, pick a variation of your name and stick with it across your social media accounts and/or personal website.  If you’re building a web presence for a professional brand, create a recognizable logo and choose one name to use across platforms.  Learn more about how to do this in Jaime’s series of Digital Literacy workshops, which starts on April 8th with personal websites and LinkedIn.

2. Keep things up-to-date.
Nothing gives away that you’re not committed to your brand or that you don’t have time to maintain it like an old copyright date or an “updated date” that’s months or years old.

3. If you have a blog, keep it active.
If you’re going to have your blog showing up on your personal website, it will immediately alienate your visitors if they see your blog is not regularly updated.  It’s better to have a more static personal website with no blog than a static personal website and a static, old blog that’s not kept up.

4. Watch out for broken links.
Broken links kill your credibility and drive your visitors to set out in search of better resources, which can hurt your ranking in Google and other search engines.  Search engines want to deliver relevant results to their users, and when people don’t stick around on your site, it looks like your site isn’t one of them.  Chava will teach you how to keep your “bounce rate” low in her web design and search engine optimization (SEO) workshops.

5. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
You don’t need to establish active profiles across every platform immediately.  Pick the platform you feel most comfortable with (e.g. Instagram, LinkedIn, WordPress, etc.) and develop your skills and quality content there.  You can always broaden your reach after you get going.

Ready to get started?  Register at the links below!

 

Feature image: “The Art of Social Media” (CC BY 2.0) by  mkhmarketing

Sara Leavens: Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator

This blog post is the kick-off for a series of profiles that I will be doing on Penn Libraries staff and how their work coincides with the use of social media to reach patrons both traditionally (as in, in-person) and digitally (as in, via blogs, social media, websites, etc.).

The Penn Libraries has been a personal, intellectual home for me over the last five years, and as I wrap up my time as a graduate student here, I hope to share with you some behind-the-scenes insight into the people and resources that have made it possible for someone like me–a non-traditional graduate student–to do the amazing work I’ve been able to do with social media and working directly with library patrons.

My hope is that by the end of this short series, you will come to appreciate all the Penn Libraries has to offer its patrons, and share in my wonder that we have access to these space and resources.

–Jaime Marie Estrada
Social Media Intern, Weigle Information Commons, Penn Libraries
Master of Liberal Arts Candidate, Philosophy and Communications, 2017

For the first blog post of the series “Social Media at Penn Libraries,” I’d like to introduce you to Sara Leavens, a recent addition to the Penn Libraries staff. Sara Leavens came to UPenn from the University of Kansas where she studied creative writing. Sara’s strengths lie in that she understands how to engage with students, faculty, and staff to make the resources available at the libraries more visible using social media and other forms of communications and marketing.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sara and learn how she came to Penn and what her first few months on the job were like:

Sara Leavens started at the Penn Libraries as Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator in 2015.

Since Sara comes from a creative writing background, some of her role comes naturally to her! Sara has an MFA in Creative Writing and had originally planned on being a professor. However, she didn’t want to pursue a PhD, and with a technical communications background from her undergraduate work, she realized there was a need for social media at her academic department at the University of Kansas. Sara started the department’s Twitter and FB pages at the University of Kansas. Eventually, these pages became the most visited departmental pages at UKansas from 2013-2015.

When Sara first started at the Penn Libraries as Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator in 2015, she found the libraries’ many social media accounts to be quite established. She described her first few months here as a “good will tour,” where she met with head librarians and directors of the 14 (!!!) libraries, to learn about their current social media management and future needs.

From there, Sara went about the challenging and fun work of trying to ascertain and corral all of the social media accounts that each center and library had established for itself. In some cases, it took her as long as two years to hunt down and redirect some of the accounts! Centralizing communications and social media is a common trend being undertaken by many college and university campuses as they are starting to see social media less as a grassroots initiative and as more central to the branding and marketing of higher education to its most important audience: the students.

Continue reading Sara Leavens: Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator

Hoesley and Seltzer Program Applications Due April 7

**Deadline extended to April 7!**

We are currently accepting applications for two undergraduate programs for the 2017-2018 academic year:  the Hoesley Digital Literacy Fellows and the Seltzer Family Digital Media Awards.

Seltzer-Hoesley_2017_hero

The Hoesley Program is open to current sophomores and juniors who are interested in broadening their digital literacy and technology skills and fostering career connections at Penn and beyond. This year, we are accepting a cohort of around 5-10 students. Read more about our Hoesley students in related blog posts and apply online.

The Seltzer Family Digital Media Awards provide five to six students with up to $1,000 each to purchase equipment (hardware or software) to support a new media project for one year. The equipment then gets returned to our equipment lending program for general use. Students in any year of study can apply, and special consideration is given to those in the Huntsman Program. Read more about the Seltzer Program in related blog posts and apply online.

Applications are due by Friday, March 31, so please consider applying and spread the word!