Comparing Data Sets


Last Thursday I had the privilege of teaching a group of division order analysts about the VLOOKUP function. I consider VLOOKUP to be an essential tool for data manipulation, so I knew it would be the primary function I focused on during our short 55-minute class.

But I also knew that data is often not as neat and clean as I would hope for. I almost always have to tweak some field, and this almost always involves using Text Functions like LEFT, RIGHT, MID, &, LEN, FIND, and REVERSETEXT. So how did I squeeze these into an hour?

The answer is that I didn’t. I chose instead to record tutorial videos and temporarily place them on this site along with the workbooks so that each attendee could practice these at their own pace. I chose to stick with just the VLOOKUP, going over it for about half the hour, then inviting attendees to come to this website for more practice.


I have always known that comparing data can be a difficult thing for most folks. The quintessential wrong, but most often used way to compare data is through ocular inspection. That’s a fancy way of saying that people eyeball two data sets to see if they match. You can probably relate right? If you have ever tried positioning two data sets side by side and then moving one of them up and down to match the other one then you know what I mean.

There’s a better way.  When I began preparing for the 2010 NADOA Conference in San Antonio, I began to think that if I would automate just a bit more, I could come up with a really sweet tool, one that more people could learn how to use.

That thought culminated with a “compare data” feature on TheDataWand.

The featured video shows this addition to TheDataWand at full speed.

Posted in: News & Announcements on October 21st by steven


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