3 powerful Excel features that barely anybody knows about

Hold on to your spreadsheets, I’m about to blow your mind

Josh Cottrell-Schloemer
3 min readMay 15, 2022

Excel is packed with interesting features that rarely get noticed. I’m going to give you 3 of my favorites.

  1. Layer controls
  2. Dynamic dashboards
  3. Accessibility Checks

Bonus feature: 3D Dinosaurs!?

Layer Controls

If you’re building a report with a lot of shapes, images and charts then it can be easy to lose track of all your layers. Luckily Excel has a layer management tool that makes it easy to see all your layers at the same time and adjust them.

Just select a shape, open up the ‘Shape Format’ tab and select ‘Reorder Objects’

Dynamic Dashboards

These are all sample templates from the Excel Dashboard Toolkit

This is actually a range of features but they’re not as complex as you might expect. Excel has a great set of visual design features that can be used to make your data way more visually engaging — start by exploring everything under the ‘Insert’ tab and the ‘Shape Format’ tab. I wrote an in-depth series on this if you want more how-to guides: https://datastudio.medium.com/how-to-make-excel-look-less-like-excel-8eb91b75ab8f

You can even make dashboards that are filterable, plug in to external data, and link your dashboards into PowerPoint. Excel has a ton of powerful features that people just don’t know about.

Accessibility Checks

Did you know that around 1-in-10 people have some form of color blindness or other visual impairments? That makes it super important to check how easily viewable your reports are for almost 10% of the population.

Under the ‘Review’ tab you have a ‘Check Accessibility’ option that will give you clear and concise instructions for improving your reports accessibility.

Bonus: what about the 3D dinosaurs!

Okay okay okay, yes you can insert 3D dinosaurs (and many other 3D models) into your Excel sheets. Under the ‘Insert’ tab, select ‘3D Models’ and search through some of the options.

If you like these tips and want to learn more about Excel then check out my newsletter and toolkit:

1— I send out free sample templates every month in my newsletter: https://exceldashboardtemplate.com/newsletter

2 — I have a very detailed toolkit with 125 designs (25 charts in 5 different color palettes) and more: https://exceldashboardtemplate.com/



Josh Cottrell-Schloemer

Building data-focused products. Startups acquired=1. Hobby = making Google Data Studio & Excel beautiful.