If you’re going to put in the time to compile the data for a surname database, you want to be sure that you can wring every bit of information possible from it – in the most efficient way that you can.

When you put together your own database, you want it to be designed so that you can see patterns and find information quickly. The beauty of Excel is being able to organize information in multiple ways depending on what you are looking for.

When you have a lot of information in your document, headers are a must, but do you find yourself scrolling back up to the top to see exactly what you are looking at? I’ll show you how to make that header row remain visible at the top of the screen at all times, no matter how far down you scroll.

Another feature that is nice in Excel is being able to keep your column spacing – maybe because you need it to fit on a specific size of paper – but sometimes, some of the information in the cells is too long. There is an option to “wrap” the text – automatically adding line returns within the data and adjusting the height of the row to make it fit perfectly. When you are wrapping text, you can decide if text that is not as long will sit on the bottom, top or center of the cell. Whatever you’d prefer to make it readable to you.

Because we’ve pulled the data for this database directly from FamilySearch, THEY have determined the order of the different columns when you downloaded the file. In the video, I show you how to move a column so that the information is in the order that you’d prefer.

The final thing that I talk about in this video is the ability to alphabetize your information. I show you how you can alphabetize the first column but then how to also add a 2nd level of alphabetizing so that all of the spouses listed for identical names will also be in alphabetical order. That is a great help when you are trying to differentiate between all those different men named “John Smith”. We’ll then add another level to make your first level of sorting based on the marriage date, then the 2nd level based on the first column name and a 3rd level of sorting to be based on the spouse’s name. That way, documents that refer to an individual by initials or nicknames will still be very close together within the Excel document but it will be easier to tell the difference between fathers and sons with the same name.

Once you learn all the different ways that data can be sorted, you’ll be able to arrange the information in the best way to help you find the information that you’ve been looking for!