Microsoft adds even more new data types
The new data type will enable Excel users to surface both rich visual and interactive data cards and images that provide a better representation of data.
Let's be honest, we all use Excel for many different things: business and personal, simple to complex. Power Query and Power Pivot have helped to find, aggregate, organise and refresh our data in Excel, but it can still take a while to construct.
But it's getting simpler every day. Microsoft has recently announced another way to interact with your data. To add to the Stock and Geography data types mentioned previously, there are even more new data types coming.
With these, it will become even easier to turn your collated data into digestible information as Excel provides deeper insight for more than 100 topics. These include food, movies, places, chemistry, and even Pokémon (come on everyone, get a life!).
All you have to do to save time is convert your plain text and numbers into a new data type and Excel will surface both rich visual and interactive data cards and images that provide a better representation of your data.
Microsoft has provided some examples of these new ones.
Say you want to start keeping better track of your nutrition. Simply enter a food like “avocado” and by converting it to a Food data type, Excel will help you access its nutritional information. If you are vegan, maybe your family is considering adopting a dog (no, we are not suggesting you eat a dog).
You can evaluate different types of breeds using the Animal data type, which provides you with images, facts and their temperaments, so you can easily create a table to compare them.
With data types, the associated information may be easily updated, so you always have the latest and relevant data. Right now, anyone may access the Stocks and Geography data types in Excel for the web. However, Microsoft 365 subscribers will have exclusive access to the over 100 new data types powered by Wolfram Alpha. As a Microsoft 365 subscriber, data types will give you the opportunity to:
- Easily gather, organise and analyse the information you need in one place without the hassle of finding, copying and refreshing the data
- Use new smart templates with data types to do more. They will help you prepare to move to a new city, track your nutrition, etc.
If you have ever wondered how many constellations are in the sky or whether Pluto really is a planet or a Disney character, then you are probably interested in learning new facts about the solar system. Here is how you may get Excel to help you:
- Open a blank Excel workbook
- Type ‘Earth’ into A1
- Select cell A1
- Go to Data -> Data Types gallery -> Space to convert the text into data types
- Select the icon next to Earth to display the data type card, and see all the available data you can insert into the grid. You may also select the ‘Insert Data’ button that appears to the right of the selected cell
- In the card, hover over the field you want to insert, and click the ‘Insert Data’ button that appears on hover for that field.
The Movie data type is linked to Wolfram Alpha (like astronomy and others). Using these data types is as simple as typing text into a cell and telling Excel you want to convert the text to a data type.
Then, you can tell Excel what data fields you want to add to the grid.
To effect this:
- Open a blank workbook
- Type ‘Shrek’ in A1
- Type ‘The Princess Bride’ in A2
- Select A1:A2
- Go to Data -> Data Types gallery -> Movies to convert the text into data types
- Select the icon next to the movie title to display the associated card and all the data you can insert into the grid
- In the card, click the field you want to insert.
The University data type is yet another linked data type. Here are some step-by-step instructions for using the University data type:
- Open a blank workbook
- Type Harvard in A1
- Type Yale in A2
- Select A1:A2
- Go to Data -> Data Types gallery -> University to convert the text into data types
- If Excel doesn’t recognise the University, you’ll get the option to search for the correct one or try another
- Select A1:A2 and click the ’Insert Data’ button that appears to the right of the selected cells to see a list of available properties
- Select one or more fields to add them to each row.
No more to that one either.
To assist with learning the ropes of these and other linked data types, Microsoft has released some templates you may play with – as long as your version of Excel recognises these new data types. Examples include:
- Planets and Comets template
- Favourite Movie list
- (US) College Decision Helper template
- Baby Name tracker (to showcase Names)
- Periodic Table template (to showcase Chemistry)
- Relocation Helper template (to showcase City)
The new data types and smart templates will be available to Office Insiders shortly, but there might be a short wait. In order to be able to view these new data types, for the time being you need to meet the following criteria:
- Hold a Microsoft 365 subscription with the English editing language added to Office Language Preferences
- Possess a personal Microsoft Account (not one from your work or school).
- Be an Office Insider in the United States (for some, but not all, of these data types)
- Your system runs one of:
- Windows Beta Channel Version 2007 (Build 13029.20006) or later
- Mac Fast Version 16.40 (Build 20062901) or later
- Be born on 29 February 1900.
OK, so maybe the last one was made up, but you get the picture… They are not for everyone – yet (including us)! However, it will come eventually. We can’t wait.
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Recognised by Microsoft as one of 104 Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) in Excel worldwide by Microsoft, Liam has over 30 years’ experience in financial model development/auditing, valuations, M&A, strategy, training and consultancy. He has headed Ernst & Young’s modelling team in Melbourne and was an Assistant Director in their...