What the world’s richest man can teach us about averages

This is a story about a bar, 10 regular folks and the world’s richest man. Somewhere along the way, we’ll seek to demonstrate the robustness of the different average measures, but more on that in a minute.

I want you to picture your favourite bar or pub.

For me, it might be a pint of ale at The Dickens Inn, near the River Thames in London:

Dickens Inn London pub

I should just finish this blog post here, and we could all spend the rest of the day in happy reverie, supping our favourite tipple.

Alas, that won’t do! We have work to do and things to learn, so let’s get started.

The dataset

Imagine ten friends, all regular folks, sitting at the bar, eating and drinking, chatting and laughing. A most convivial scene. The beer tastes delicious of course, the floor is dappled with sunlight and the comforting aroma of Pie & Mash wafts by their nostrils. Anyway, I digress.

Let us play a little game. Our subjects don’t mind because they’re fictional.

We ask them all to write down their salaries in our Google Sheet, so we have the following results:

Ten salary values

Good. That’s our dataset.

Calculating the averages

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Checkboxes (☑️) are now available in Google Sheets! Here’s three ways you can use them.

Checkboxes are now available in Google Sheets!

They give you a visual way to toggle between boolean values (true and false) in a spreadsheet cell. This opens up all sorts of opportunities to make your Sheets more interactive.

Adding a checkbox

You’ll find checkboxes under the Insert menu:

Insert checkboxes menu

At the moment they have a NEW label next to them, but that disappears after a while.

FALSE status

When you add a checkbox, it will show up in the cell or range of cells that you have highlighted, and it will be unchecked. If you look in the formula bar, the cell has a value of FALSE.

This means you can link to this checkbox cell with any formula, for example an IF statement, and it will behave as a FALSE value (when it’s unchecked).

False checkboxes

TRUE status

When you click on the checkbox itself, it will become checked (shown by a tick mark and grey background) and the cell value will change to TRUE. Again, you can use this in your formulas.

true checkboxes

Advanced Checkbox Options

Continue reading Checkboxes (☑️) are now available in Google Sheets! Here’s three ways you can use them.

Automatically issue Teachable course certificates with Apps Script

In this post I’m going to show you how you can setup a system to automatically issue certificates to students who complete an online course on the Teachable platform, using Google Apps.

First, it captures course completion data in a Google Sheet. Second, it creates a PDF certificate based on a Google Doc template. And third, it emails that certificate out to the student via Gmail.

It has the advantage that it’s free and doesn’t involve any other paid third-party tools.

It has the disadvantage that there’s quite a few steps involved to get it all hooked up.


Teachable course certificates Apps Script process

Basic webhook example

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Slow Google Sheets? 🐢
Here are 27 ideas to try today

Slow Google Sheets?

We’ve all been there, stuck watching the little loading bar creep slowly, frustratingly to it’s conclusion:

Slow Google Sheets loading bar

How can you speed up a slow Google Sheet?

First off, this is a difficult question to answer because there are so many factors that may or may not be causing you to have a slow Google Sheet.

What follows in this article is some suggested optimization strategies and some research into what causes slow Google Sheets.

Strategies to speed up Google Sheets

  1. How to recognize slow Google Sheets (details)
  2. Know the size limits of Google Sheets (details)
  3. Measure a Google Sheet’s size (details)
  4. Measure a Google Sheet’s calculation speed (details)
  5. Delete un-used cells (details)
  6. Convert formulas to static values wherever possible (details)
  7. Use closed range references (details)
  8. Remove volatile functions or use with caution (details)
  9. Vlookup strategies (details)
  10. Index-Match strategies (details)
  11. Query function strategies (details)
  12. Array Formula strategies (details)
  13. Import Formula strategies (details)
  14. Google Finance function strategies (details)
  15. Use IF statements to manage formula calls (details)
  16. Manage expensive formulas with a control switch (details)
  17. Use Filter, Unique and Array_Constrain functions to create smaller helper tables (details)
  18. Avoid long calculation chains (details)
  19. Reference data on the same Sheet (details)
  20. Use helper columns (details)
  21. Split your slow Google Sheet into separate Sheets (details)
  22. Use Conditional Formatting sparingly (details)
  23. Leverage the power of Apps Script (details)
  24. Use custom formulas sparingly (details)
  25. Other troubleshooting tips for slow Google Sheets (details)
  26. Understand changes in the cloud can take time to propagate (details)
  27. Know when it’s time to move to a database (details)

Continue reading Slow Google Sheets? 🐢
Here are 27 ideas to try today

Explaining syntax differences in your formulas due to your Google Sheets location

Did you know that formulas are written differently depending on where in the world you’re located? For example, the syntax in the US is different to that in Italy.

This post explores the syntax differences that occur based on your Google Sheets location, i.e. the location you’re working in, assuming your Google settings match (which they would by default).

Formula syntax based on Google Sheets location
What wizardry is this? Either this format will look utterly normal to you, or it won’t.

If you’ve ever copied a template but been unable to get it working, or simply not understood a formula, then it’s possible you’ve run into this syntax issue due to Google Sheets location.

This handy guide will show you the differences and hopefully help you translate seamlessly when sharing Sheets in different locations.

For the most of the world, aside from Europe, you write decimals with a decimal point notation (for example $2.50) and your formulas will use commas to separate the different parts.

I’m currently based in the US, my Google account is set to a US location, so all the articles and template downloads on this site use this notation. (Incidentally, I’m from the UK originally, but since they use the same decimal notation there, formulas in my Google Sheets are the same regardless.)

For countries using decimal comma separators (for example €2,50), which is most of the European countries and a select few others, the syntax for formulas is slightly different, as explained below.

So, ask yourself now where you’re based and how you write your decimal numbers, and then see the different sections below for guidance on how your formulas are written.

How to change Google Sheets location

Before getting to the nitty-gritty of formula syntax, let’s first see where we set the location.
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