Inquiring minds

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS, CPA
December 1, 2013

Q: In your April 2013 JofA article titled “Microsoft Office 2013,” page 32, you mentioned that Excel 2013 offers the ability to “compare two spreadsheets to display changes (similar to Word’s Compare tool),” but I can’t find this functionality. Can you please tell me where to find this tool?

A: To use Excel 2013’s new Compare tool, you must first activate the Inquire add-in from Excel’s File tab by selecting Options, Add-Ins. In the resulting Excel Options dialog box, from the Manage dropdown box in the lower-left corner, select COM Add-ins and click Go. In the resulting COM Add-Ins dialog box (pictured below), check the Inquire box and click OK.

 
These steps enable and display the Inquire tab in the Excel 2013 Ribbon, as pictured in the screenshot below. Make sure the two files you want to compare are open; then from the Inquire tab, select Compare Files, choose the two files you want to compare from the Compare and To dropdown boxes, and then click the Compare button.
 

 
 
Excel compares and analyzes the selected files, displaying them side by side in a new interactive Spreadsheet Compare window (a portion of which is pictured below). The cells that differ are highlighted and color-coded according to type (i.e., changed values, formulas, format, etc.). A separate window lists each changed cell address (along with descriptions of those changes), and a chart located in the lower-right corner summarizes the frequency of the types of changes detected. Additional windows summarize VBA code or macro changes line by line, when detected.
 

 

In addition to the Compare tool, the Inquire tab also includes four new analysis tools, described below:

 

1. Workbook Analysis. To view a report detailing dozens of characteristics of a workbook, from the Inquire tab, select Workbook Analysis to launch the dialog box (pictured in the next screenshot in the background) and place a checkmark next to the characteristics you want to analyze. For example, you might choose to analyze warnings, errors, hidden items, or linked workbooks. After making your selections, click Excel Export, Save. In the resulting confirmation dialog box click Load Export File to view the summary report (pictured below in the foreground).

 

The first worksheet summarizes the analysis, and the worksheets that follow provide details for each analysis. This type of report might be useful to help analyze or better understand a complicated Excel file you did not author.

2. Workbook Relationship. To help manage workbooks with numerous connections, from the Inquire tab, select Workbook Relationship to display an interactive diagram of all related files, with arrows depicting the directional flow of links to those files.

 

3&4. Worksheet Relationship and Cell Relationship tools. The Inquire tab’s Worksheet Relationship and Cell Relationship tools work similarly to the Workbook Relationship tool but instead summarize links between sheets for a specific workbook, or links to a specific cell address.

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