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Using templates for data types in Microsoft Excel

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If you’ve ever used Microsoft Excel’s data types feature for details on geography, stocks, food, and more, you’ll love the addition of templates. Microsoft offers several data type templates to help you keep track of all kinds of things.

With these templates, you can use the cities data type to plan a move, the stocks data type to track your investments, and the food data type to record meals for your diet. But of course there are more! Here we help you view and obtain templates and work with an example to learn how to use it.

Available Templates and Requirements

You can view and download available templates on Microsoft̵

7;s Discover Data Types Templates webpage. At the time of writing, there are nearly a dozen useful templates available, and each has a brief description of how to use it. You can:

  • compile a list of your favorite movies.
  • study the elements with an interactive periodic table.
  • learn about planets and comets, or stars and constellations.
  • get help choosing the right university.
  • get details on cities you are considering moving to and use the checklist.
  • keep a list of baby names you are considering.
  • log the foods you eat and set nutritional goals, or analyze your favorite recipes for nutritional details.
  • track your activities and workout routines.
  • keep track of your stock portfolio.

The Data Types feature in Excel is available to Microsoft 365 subscribers and to those who use Excel on the web or are part of the Office Insiders program. You must also be connected to the internet as the information comes from online sources.

Download a data type template

If you see a template you’d like to try, click its name (which is a download link) on Microsoft’s templates website. Depending on whether you are using Windows or Mac and which browser you are using, you may be prompted to save the file or open it immediately in Excel.

Click on a template name to download it

Using a data type template in Microsoft Excel

Once you download a template and open it in Microsoft Excel, it’s ready to use right away. However, the “Welcome” tab gives you a handy, short, and fun summary of how to use that particular template. Each template is a little different from the others, but they all start with entering a keyword or phrase.

View the Welcome tab

For this how-to, we’re going to use the Movie List template. With this template, you can follow your favorite movies, view details such as cast and box office totals, and add your own rating and review.

Start by entering a keyword or phrase in the appropriate cell that applies to the data type. Enter a movie title for the Movie List.

Enter a keyword or phrase

Once you enter your item, the template takes over and fills in the remaining details.

Details added automatically

If for some reason the data for your word or phrase cannot be found, you will see a question mark next to it. Click the icon to open the Data Chooser sidebar, then locate and select the appropriate item.

Click on the question mark and select the correct item

Some templates have several tabs that you can work with, and the data types you add populate them as well. For example, our Movie List template has a tab for the actual movie list, as well as tabs for Dashboard and Cast.

The dashboard shows the movies you add to the list as movie poster images and includes both ratings and movies by decade and genre.

Dashboard tab

The Cast tab has a drop-down list at the top that will populate the movies you add to your list. Choose a film from this box and you will see the cast, director(s) and producer(s) of the film.

Other tabs in the template may also contain more information. Using our movie list example, when we visit the Cast tab, we can get more details about a cast member by clicking the contact icon next to their name.

If you want to see even more details for your data type that aren’t in the spreadsheet, it’s easy to do. Just click the data type icon next to it. Similar to the cast member icon above, this will open the data card. You can drag to resize or just scroll through for more information.

After you grab one of these templates, be sure to check out each tab and icon for more information. When you’re done, don’t forget to save the file like you would any other Microsoft Excel workbook. Then open it and add more data to it at any time!

RELATED: How to use the built-in geography function in Microsoft Excel

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