How to Create a Data List in Excel 2003

01
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Data Management in Excel

Creating lists in Excel
Creating lists in Excel. © Ted French

At times, we need to keep track of information. It could be a personal list of phone numbers, a contact list for members of an organization or team, or a collection of coins, cards, or books.

Whatever data you have, a spreadsheet, like Excel, is a great place to store it. Excel has built it tools to help you keep track of data and to find specific information when you want it. As well, with its hundreds of ​columns and thousands of rows, an Excel spreadsheet can hold an enormous amount of data.

Excel is also simpler to use than a full-fledged database program such as Microsoft Access. Data can be entered easily into the spreadsheet, and, with just a few clicks of the mouse you can sort through your data and find what you want.

02
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Creating Tables and Lists

A table of data in Excel
A table of data in Excel. © Ted French

The basic format for storing data in Excel is a table. In a table, data is entered in rows. Each row is known as a record.

Once a table has been created, Excel's data tools can be used to search, sort, and filter the records to find specific information.

Although there are a number of ways you can use these data tools in Excel, the easiest way of doing so is, to create what's known as a list from the data in a table.

03
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Entering Data Correctly

Enter the data correctly for a list
Enter the data correctly for a list. © Ted French

The first step in creating a table is to enter the data. When doing so, it is important to ensure that it is entered correctly.

Data errors, caused by incorrect data entry, are the source of many problems related to data management. If the data is entered correctly in the beginning, the program is more likely to give you back the results you want.

04
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Rows Are Records

A data record in an Excel table
A data record in an Excel table. © Ted French

As mentioned, rows of data are known as records. When entering records keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Leave no blank rows in the table being created, not even between the headings and the first row of data.
     
  • A record can contain data about only one specific item.
     
  • A record must also contain ALL the data in the list about that item. There can't be information about an item in more than one row.
     
  • To create a list, a table of data needs to contain at least two data records.
05
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Columns Are Fields

Field names in an Excel table
Field names in an Excel table. © Ted French

While rows in the table are referred to as records, the columns are known as fields. Each column needs a heading to identify the data it contains. These headings are called field names.

  • Field names are used to ensure that the data for each record is entered in the same sequence.
     
  • Make sure that all the data in a column is entered using the same format. If you start entering numbers as digits (such as 10 or 20) keep it up. Don't change part way through and begin entering numbers as words (such as ten or twenty). Be consistent.
     
  • Leave no blank columns in the table.
     
  • To create a list, a table needs to be at least two columns wide.
06
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Creating the List

Using the Create List dialog box in Excel
Using the Create List dialog box in Excel. © Ted French

Once the data has been entered into the table, it can be converted to a list. To do so:

  1. Select any one cell in the table.
     
  2. Choose List > Create List from the menu to open the Create List dialog box.
     
  3. The dialog box shows the range of cells to be included in the list. If the table was created properly, Excel will usually select the correct range.
     
  4. If the range selection is correct, click OK.
07
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If the List Range Is Incorrect

Creating lists in Excel
Creating lists in Excel. © Ted French

If, by some chance, the range shown in the Create List dialog box is incorrect you will need to reselect the range of cells to use in the list.

To do so:

  1. Click on the return button in the Create List dialog box to return to the worksheet.
     
  2. The Create List dialog box shrinks to a small box and the current range of cells can be seen on the worksheet surrounded by the marching ants.
     
  3. Drag select with the mouse to select the correct range of cells.
     
  4. Click on the return button in the small Create List dialog box to return to the normal-sized one.
     
  5. Click OK to finish the list.
08
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The List

Data tools in an Excel list
Data tools in an Excel list. © Ted French

Once created,

  • the list will have a dark border around it.
     
  • There will be down-pointing arrows beside each field name that open drop down menus when clicked on.
     
  • The drop down menus contain options for sorting the list by any of the field names and for searching the list for records that match certain criteria.
     
  • A blank row containing an asterisk is added to the bottom of the list. Additional data can be added to the list using this new row.
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