MS Excel 2013: 5 Hidden Features that everyone should know

MS Excel 2013: 5 Hidden Features that everyone should know


Last updated October 14, 2016


Microsoft has introduced more features in Excel 2013, which are new to users. Some of them are Flash fill, timeline feature, Lookup function, Statistical Function and more. These features allow the user to work with data more effectively and efficiently.

Let's discuss those MS excel tips and tricks one by one.

1. Fill your entry quickly via Flash Fill

Excel 2013 has come up with a special feature, Flash Fill, which can automatically fill the columns/rows by detecting the pattern followed in excel.

Flash fill in excel 2013 Example:

Let’s try to enter the Column “Name” as First Name + Last Name in a second column.

Flash fill

One way is to manually type the name of each person, while the simpler alternative is to use Flash fill. Flash Fill will automatically detect the pattern and apply this to the rest of the column. Press enter and have those entries in seconds.

Flash fill2

2. Calculate Date and Days to a second in Excel 2013

Calculating dates in excel is really easy now with help of these two functions,

A. DAYS Function

This will determine the number of days between the indicated two dates.

Format: DAYS (start_date, end_date)


Enter the dates and apply formula over the column where you wish to see the outcome.

Start date and end date: Must be entered. These are the two dates between which you want to know the number of days.

Start date and days

The following example illustrates how we can effectively use this functionality for each column of a row.

Start date and days2


Format: ISOWEEKNUM (date)

Returns the number of weeks in the specific year that the mentioned date occurs

Example: In this example, the function returns the number of weeks (14) in the specific year (2015) up to the date that’s been provided (4/1/2015)


3. Excel’s 2013 Look-up Function


Returns a formula as a text string

Format: FORMULATEXT (reference)

Feature: where the reference argument can be a reference to a cell in an Excel worksheet or on a different worksheet or even another workbook that is currently open.

Example: In the below example, we have listed out the expense amount, and in (A7), we apply the “SUM” formula and the formula is then used as follows:

Formula text


Formula text

4. Excel 2013 makes statistical functions easy


Returns the probability of a trial result using a binomial distribution

Format: BINOM.DIST.RANGE (trials, probability_s, number_s, [number_s2])

  • Trials: The number of independent trials. Must be greater than or equal to 0
  • Probability_s: The probability of success in each trial. Must be greater than or equal to 0 and less than or equal to 1.
  • Number_s: The number of successes in trials. Must be greater than or equal to 0 and less than or equal to Trials.
  • Number_s2: Optional: If provided, returns the probability that the number of successful trials will fall between Number_s and number_s2. Must be greater than or equal to Number_s and less than or equal to Trials.

Equation Used:

Binom Equation

N is Trials, p is Probability_s, s is Number_s, s2 is Number_s2, and k is the iteration variable.


  • If any arguments are outside of their constraints, BINOM.DIST.RANGE returns the #NUM! Error value.
  • If any arguments are non-numeric values, BINOM.DIST.RANGE returns the #VALUE! Error value.
  • Numeric arguments are truncated to integers.


Enter the trial, probability and number of success


The above example will return the binomial distribution based on the probability of 68 successes in 90 trials and a 75% probability of success.

Apply the formula in column C1 as shown below


And the outcome is displayed as



Determines the total number of possible permutations for an indicated number

Syntax: PERMUTATIONA (number, number-chosen)

Where Number: An integer that describes the total number of objects

Number Chosen: Describes the number of objects in each permutation.


In this example, let’s find permutation (3, 2), where 3 is the total number of objects and 2 describes the number of objects in each permutation.

Suppose the 3 objects are (2, 3, 4); using permutation A with 2, we have


The different permutations are:

  1. 2,2
  2. 2,3
  3. 2,4
  4. 3,2
  5. 3,3
  6. 3,4
  7. 4,2
  8. 4,3
  9. 4,4

Hence, the result is 9.

5. Efficient use of Financial function in excel 2013


Determines the number of periods required for an investment to reach a specified future value.

Format: PDURATION (rate, pv, fv)

Where Rate: Per period rate interest

Pv: Present value of investment

Fv: the required future value of the investment


Let’s list out the rate, present value (pv) and future value (fv) in the excel sheet

Financial function

Apply formula in column C


Or just enter the numbers like below in the formula


Result: It would take 32.99 years.


RRI Function in excel 2013:

Returns the equivalent interest rate

Format: RRI (nper, pv, fv)

Where, nper: Number of periods for the investment

Pv: Present value of the investment

Fv: Future value of the investment


RRI function

Result: the interest rate will be 1.6%

RRI function

Simplilearn provides you a comprehensive introduction to the basics of Excel 2013 application and customizing excel options. It will give an introduction to creating and managing worksheets and workbooks. Demos are provided to show how to work with Excel application and get hands-on experience in Excel 2013.

About the Author

Savita wears many hats. She is a mother, wife, chef, hobbyist gardener and Technical Writer. She has been using MS Office for many years for Professional and Personal purposes. Now, she is a freelancer based in NCR.

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