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Lockdown Learning: How to Excel as a translator

Learning a simple function a day in Excel has been a useful step to be proactive in the 4th national lockdown, while still being very busy.

One tip from a friend gleaned during the first lockdown (March/April 2020) was to try to learn something new every day to help your work.

So the approach I am now taking during Austria’s 4th national lockdown is to try to learn a function in Excel every day. A few “instant” highlights from the early days, some of which were genuinely new to me, others revisions:

  1. the TRIM function to get numerical values out of cells that are a mixture of text and numbers. It has a lot of applications for messy data.
  2. Using the SPLIT function to split customer names into forename and surname (very useful also for migration of contacts, although you can also import using “space” as a separator in that instance!)
  3. F5 (Go to…) and use it to select all empty rows (useful for removing empty rows in tables e.g. bilingual terminology lists prepared in Excel).
  4. Custom formatting for numbers (over and above black for positive and red for negative) which is very useful for separating projects by number of words to see what kinds of translations I am currently doing (e.g. short “snippets” of up to 250 words, through to x0,000 word publications). “Banding” is a useful way to present how I work to a lay audience (e.g. bands by words that in turn reflect whether a job is one that is under an hour (i.e. up to 250 words), at most 2 hours (typically up to 500 words), half a day (1,000 words) a full day (2,000 words), multiday (between 2,000 and 8,000) or multiweek (8000+). It isn’t an exact science but is useful in terms of presenting a useful breakdown.
  5. Using “Alt =” at the bottom of a column or end of a row, instead of using the SUM function.

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