How Excel's scan function works

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We can not speak of spreadsheets not to mention Microsoft Excel, the tool par excellence that is used to organize, analyze and present data in an optimized way. And this application is undoubtedly one of the most used by companies and by any user who works with a large amount of data to optimize their time. Although many other applications have emerged later that have simulated the same system, this is the basic and most used tool. One of the reasons is the large number of possibilities and functions it offers to the user. Among them, the scan function It usually goes unnoticed and is not widely known, but it is a function that you can take advantage of and use to get the most out of your spreadsheets.

This feature allows you to search for specific information from a global set of data, making it much easier to search. analysis of large amounts of data. It is possible that you have never used it or, if you have, you have doubts about its operation. Therefore, in this article we will explore in detail how the scan function works, its applications and some useful tips to get the most out of your Excel spreadsheets.

What is the scan function?

The scan function is a Advanced search function in Excel sheets that allows the user directly locate and extract specific data within a global set of data and cells. In addition, you can search and identify more than one value within a range of data, which will greatly speed up this type of process. It may not be as effective if we have little data, but if we handle thousands of different values, finding the ones we want with just one click will make all the difference.

To use this function we will have to write in the cell we want: =SCAN(Search_Value, Data_Range, [Hide_Duplicates]). After this, the value or text that we indicate in said cell will automatically be scanned. Below we will break down this formula.

  • «Search_value«: It is the value or text that you want to find within the entire spreadsheet.
  • «data_range«: It is the data range within which the value search will be performed.
  • «Hide_duplicates«: This means that duplicate results are ignored. Is Optional.

Scanning in Excel is relatively simple. Excel scans the selected data range y look for value provided. Once found, it returns this value to the corresponding cell, or to a cell reference. If hide duplicates is selected these results will not appear in the scanner.

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What is the scan function used for?

This amazing Excel feature has a wide variety of applications and can be used in multiple contexts. Some of the most common are:

  1. Data analysis: It allows quickly find very specific information within large data sets, facilitating these search processes.
  2. Inventory management: This function is used in companies to maintain control of assets and products. The specific object is entered to assess how many there are and whether it is necessary to acquire more or sell.
  3. Sales control: Also used for efind registered clients and to track sales, as well as the products that have been purchased.

Tips for using the scan function

Next, we will comment on some advice or tips that you can follow right now so that the data scanning is much more effective and faster in your Excel spreadsheets.

  • Use absolute references in data range so you don't have to constantly copy and paste the formula.
  • You can select the Ignore case option to do a full scan. Furthermore, you also have features costs how to search for certain special characters.
  • Check the results of the scan to confirm that you are getting the results you expected. This is especially important at the beginning.

How to use the scan function in Excel: Example

Once we have a spreadsheet with all the data recorded, we can use this formula to obtain the number of a specific data. For example, if we have a list of products with their respective prices, we can use it to know the price of any product. To do this we would use the formula encompassing all the cells. In this case our spreadsheet goes from A1 to B8. The formula would be the following: =SCAN(«Product», «A1:B10). This will search for the product in question and return its corresponding value.

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Common errors when scanning in Excel

It is possible that you are not getting the results you want using this tool or that they may even be wrong. Therefore, we are going to comment on the most frequent failures and errors so that you take them into account and can avoid them.

  1. Include incorrect references: If the data range reference we have added is incorrect, the scan function will not find the data correctly. Therefore, make sure correctly specify the data range in which you want to search.
  2. Inconsistent formatting: The same will happen if the selected data range has an inconsistent format. Always the data included in the formula they have to be clear and concrete.
  3. Enter a non-existent value: If the value we are looking for does not exist in the data range that we have selected, the scan will give error and we won't be able to find what we want.

Additional features to get the most out of scanning

When you completely master this tool, you can start include combinations very useful and others related functions to further enhance its usefulness and become a true Excel master.

  1. TO COMBINE: You can combine the scan function with the COMBINE function to find more than one value in the same data range and thus facilitate work and presentation.
  2. INDEX and MATCH: You can combine the INDEX and MATCH functions with scanning to extract much more information from the data and can later use it to relate it to others.
  3. SI: The YES function will allow you to perform conditional tasks depending on whether the specific value is found in the scan or not.
  4. Automation with macros: Excel macros give the possibility of automate complex tasks and power use the scan function on multiple spreadsheets at the same time. This way you can search large data sets.

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