Spend less time on repetitive tasks with Excel macros

By Wendy Tietz, CPA, Ph.D.; Jennifer Cainas, CPA, DBA; and Tracie Miller-Nobles, CPA

Macros in Excel can save you a great deal of time with relatively little effort. Say, for example, that you use polling questions in class. At the end of class, you want to upload the polling question results to your learning management system (LMS) or publisher gradebook. Every class day, you would need to convert the polling software results file into the format required by your LMS or publisher platform.

Macros can make this task quick. Let’s look at an example.

Say the polling question report looks like the following:

Polling question report

In this example, there are three polling question columns: one for the class session at 7:45 a.m., one for the class session at 8:50 a.m., and one for the asynchronous recording option. Students can choose to “attend” using any of these options, and their polling question grade for the day is the maximum of those three scores.

To get the file in a format that can be read by the LMS, we need to take the following steps:

  1. Delete the Student ID column.
  2. Calculate the MAX of three score columns.
  3. Convert the MAX column to Values.
  4. Change the name of the MAX column to “Polling question grade.”
  5. Delete the three original score columns.

We can record a macro to do this task every time we have a polling question report — and running that macro takes only a few seconds. Over the course of a semester, with several class sessions, the time savings can be significant.

Please see this video (3:56 minutes) to learn how to select the options in Excel to allow it to run macros and how to record and run the macro to automate the polling report formatting process.

The example here is just one of many possible uses for Excel macros. Give macros a try — they really can save you time and effort!

Wendy Tietz, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., is a professor of accounting at Kent State University in Kent. Ohio; Jennifer Cainas, CPA, DBA, is an instructor of accountancy at the University of South Florida in Tampa; and Tracie Miller-Nobles, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas. See their site AccountingIsAnalytics.com for resources they have developed for teaching data analytics in introductory accounting. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact senior editor Courtney Vien at Courtney.Vien@aicpa-cima.com.

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