Sunday, January 31, 2016

5 Lessons Learned from Super Bowl Squares 2016 to Improve Your Excel Skills

Last week I released the latest and greatest version of my Super Bowl squares game template with more ways to play than before. Even if you don’t care for football or sports, numerous lessons can be learned by dissecting this spreadsheet, including:
  • How to assign a macro to a command button
  • How to clear cells with a macro
  • How to generate random numbers in Excel with a macro
  • How to use a macro to create a list based on cell values
  • How to create a dynamic drop down list
I thought I would offer a few more details and insights into how each of these features work.

1. How to assign a macro to a command button

To insert a command button into your Excel spreadsheet you’ll want the Developer tab to be available. Go to File > Options> Customize Ribbon and under Main Tabs check Developer. Now at the top of Excel you should see the Developer tab. Click on the Insert button drop drown, then under form controls click Command Button. Place the button wherever you want along with the desired size. To have a macro run on the click of the button, right click the command button and select Assign macro. Pick your macro and you’re good to go!

2. How to Clear a Range with an Excel Macro

To clear a range with an Excel macro, use the code below. When you click the “Clear Numbers” button, it is linked to this macro and will clear the range.

Sub Clear_Random_Numbers()
'clear the random numbers
Dim DelRange As Range
Set DelRange = Range("B5:B14")
End Sub

Unlike a formula, if you insert a row or column and your target range moves, the macro will not update automatically like a formula will. Keep this in mind when making changes to a spreadsheet containing a macro. It’s a good idea to have the layout and format fixed as much as possible before writing your macro code.

3. How to generate random numbers in Excel with a macro

To generate random numbers in a range with a macro, modify the code below. This code generates random numbers between 0 and 9. To start from 1, take out the “-1”. To get more random numbers, change 10 to 100 or whatever value you need.

Sub Generate_Random_Numbers()
'define range of cells for NFC random numbers
Dim NFCRange As Range
Set NFCRange = Range("B5:B14")
For Each c In NFCRange
c.Value = (Int((10 * Rnd + 1))) - 1
Loop Until WorksheetFunction.CountIf(NFCRange, c.Value) < 2

4. Macro to Create a List Based on Cell Values

The next macro for the Super Bowl squares sheet is for the Assign Names Randomly sheet. This style of play allows users to enter their name then input how many squares they want. So we need to generate the complete list of names. The key to this program is getting the row numbers to add correctly.

Nick 3
Sarah 2
Henry 1

List would look like this:


How do we get the result? Use loops to repeat the code that adds the name to the list.

Sub Assign_Random_Number_For_Names()
'stop screen updating so macro runs faster
Application.ScreenUpdating = False
'clear the range
Dim DelRange As Range
Set DelRange = Range("AA2:AA101")

'generate a list of all the names in order to populate the field
Dim row As Integer
Dim NumberSquares As Integer
Dim Squares As Integer
Dim RowNum As Integer
Dim PlayerName As String

RowNum = 2

For row = 2 To 101

NumberSquares = Excel.Cells(row, 24)

For Squares = 1 To NumberSquares
PlayerName = Excel.Cells(row, 23)

Excel.Cells(RowNum, 27) = PlayerName

RowNum = RowNum + 1



5. How to create a dynamic drop down list

In this spreadsheet you may have also noticed I used a dynamic list – a drop down list where the values change based on other cell’s value. There are only one hundred squares in Super Bowl squares, so when each player picks how many squares they want, the total value can only add to one hundred. When making your selection it should only show how many squares remain, basically it needs to subtract from 100 the total value of squares already entered. This is done in column P using an IF and ROW formula. If the total value of squares taken is less than one hundred, then show the row number, if not, show nothing.

I hope by examining this template you’ve learned a thing or two about Excel.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Super Bowl Squares 2016 Excel Template for Office Pools

Match-ups for the 50th Super Bowl are set which means it's time to download your Super Bowl Squares 2016 Excel template for office pools. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will play the Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February 7th at 6:30pm. To make the big game even more fun start a football office pool using our printable Super Bowl spreadsheet. Fill in the squares, watch the game, laugh at the commercials, and see who wins and maybe make a little money at the same time, or help. If you’re a fan of a team that like mine (the Factory of Sadness) that will never make it to the championship (or playoffs for that matter), then playing Super Bowl Squares will make watching the game more exciting and gives you something to actually root for. Others may be torn between cheering for their favorite team and cheering for their squares.

This year’s Super Bowl Squares spreadsheet includes three different versions and you can choose the way you want to play:

1. Printable version - This print ready version contains a blank grid, simply print it off and write all the player’s names down on the piece of paper. It’s quick and easy!

2. Pick your own squares - Manage the office Super Bowl pool directly in Excel. In this version, each player gets to pick what squares they want. Once all are taken, press the randomize button to generate the random score numbers.  No modifications are necessary, though you can if you so desire.

3. Assign squares randomly - In this new version, type each player's name in the manager sheet and use the drop down menu to assign how many squares to give each player. Then click the Assign Names Randomly button and it will automatically populate the grid with all of the names.

super bowl spreadsheet

Super Bowl Squares Rules & How to Play

Listed below are the basic instructions on how to play Super Bowl Squares (which are also included within the spreadsheet for the three different versions, along with an example):

1. Participants “purchase” individuals squares by writing their name in their desired squares, until all one hundred are filled.
2. After all squares are taken, the numbers 0 through 9 are written in the empty horizontal and vertical rows in random order (draw the numbers out of a hat).
3. After the end of each quarter of the game, match the last digit of each team's score to the corresponding square to find the winner.

Tip: 0, 3, and 7 are the best numbers to get. 8, not so much.

Below is a short video tutorial I put together of how to use my Super Bowl Squares template in Excel

Download the Super Bowl spreadsheet for free, simply click the link below then click on the “Download” link in the upper right hand corner.That’s it!

Super Bowl Squares 2016 Excel Template for Office Pools.xlsm download

Or download here to subscribe and receive instant notification whenever the file is updated.

Please let me know in the comments or by email which version you'll use to play - printable, pick your squares, or randomly assign names.

UPDATE: 2017 Super Bowl Squares template available here

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to change the default arrow size in Excel

As an engineer at my day job, I’m constantly making diagrams in Excel. I have to point at and label different components using lines and arrows in Excel, but it’s rather annoying when I have to change the line weight and arrow color every single time. But this is Excel we’re talking about here, where there is an option for almost everything. So yes, you can actually change the formatting defaults of a shape, text box, or other object and then make your changes the new defaults for anything you add later. For example, if I want all of my arrows in Excel to be colored red, I can change the default to red so I don’t have to change it every single time – a great time saving tip!

To change the default arrow size and color in Excel (or any other shape) follow these steps:

1. Add the arrow (or other shape) that you want to change the formatting defaults for (insert>shapes>arrow)
2. Select the arrow
3. Change the arrow’s color and weight or any other changes that you want
4. Right-click the arrow, and then click Set as Default Line.

Now you can create new arrows with the same formatting and not have to create it or copy and paste it over and over again.

The new default only applies to the open workbook. I have not yet discovered a way to permanently change the arrow size, from session to session or workbook to workbook, other than possibly saving it as a template. Do you have any other suggestions how to do so?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Printable 2016 NFL Playoff Bracket

The 2015-2016 NFL Playoffs are set to begin on Saturday, January 9th a week after the end of the crazy 2015 regular season. Two wildcard games will be played Saturday, January 9 and two games will be played Sunday, January 10. Second round games will be played Saturday and Sunday, January 16 and 17. Third round games will be played Sunday, January 24. The NFL SuperBowl, number 50!, will be played Sunday, February 7th. 

2016 nfl playoff bracket

I've once again created a printable 2016 NFL playoff bracket with team helmets that you can download for free to use in your office pools. The spreadsheet also includes the complete 2015 NFL playoff schedule including game times, dates, and TV stations. Download the file by clicking the link below (file is hosted on

As a Browns fan, it's hard to once again see two other teams in our division make it to the playoffs while we miss out! And we still don't have the answer at quarterback. Sigh... So who are you cheering for?

If you enjoy this spreadsheet, please use the share buttons to send to your family, friends, and coworkers. Also, be sure to check back after the playoffs are over and I’ll be posting my Superbowl squares spreadsheet.