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Excel Workbook Tips

Copy existing Excel workbooks, add spacer tabs, and more Excel workbook tips

change sheet tab colour


Video: Create Workbook Copy Without Save As

Instead of creating an Excel file from scratch, you can save time by basing the new workbook on an existing file. Open the old file, then use the Save As command, to create a copy.

However, it is easy to forget that step, and you end up making unwanted changes to the original file. To be safe, use one of the tips in this video, to open a copy of the original, and keep it safe from changes.

Watch this video to see the steps for creating a copy of the original file, without using the Save As command.

Copy Worksheet to New Workbook

With just a few clicks, you can create a new workbook, from an existing worksheet.

To move or copy worksheet(s) to a new workbook:

  1. Right-click on the sheet tab (or, select a group of sheets, and right-click on one of the selected sheet tabs)
  2. Click Move or Copy
  3. In the Move or Copy window, click the arrow in the drop down list at the top
  4. Select (new book) as the option
  5. To copy the sheet, check the create a copy box (leave the check box blank if you want to move the sheet)
  6. Click OK

worksheet to new book

Workbook Backup Copy Macro

Here's an Excel workbook backup macro that I use almost every day.

Copy this macro code, and paste it into a regular code module in a workbook that's always open, when you use Excel, such as your Personal Macro Workbook.

Quick Backup Macro Code

The code below will save a copy of the active workbook, in the same folder. The copy has the same file name and extension, with the date and time added to the end of the name.

For example: MyFileName_20190627_0905.xlsx

Sub QuickBU_SameFolder()
Dim wb As Workbook
Dim strFile As String
Dim strName As String
Dim lExt As Long
Dim strDir As String
Dim strExt As String
Dim lPer As Long
Dim strStamp As String

Set wb = ActiveWorkbook
strName = wb.Name
strDir = wb.Path & "\"
strStamp = Format(Now, "_yyyymmdd_HhMm")
lPer = InStr(1, UCase(Right(strName, 5)), ".")

Select Case lPer
  Case 1:     lExt = 5
  Case 2:     lExt = 4
  Case Else:  lExt = 0
End Select

If lExt = 0 Then
  MsgBox "Please save the file and then try again."
  GoTo exitHandler
End If

strExt = Right(strName, lExt)
strFile = Left(strName, Len(strName) - lExt)

ActiveWorkbook.SaveCopyAs _
  strDir & strFile & strStamp & strExt
MsgBox "The file was saved as " _
  & vbCrLf _
  & strFile & strStamp & strExt _
  & vbCrLf _
  & vbCrLf _
  & "in the current folder:" _
  & vbCrLf _
  & strDir

  Set wb = Nothing
  Exit Sub
End Sub

Workbook Navigation Tips

It can be difficult to find a specific sheet, if an Excel file has many worksheets. This video shows how to use navigation arrows, worksheet list, coloured tabs, and spacer tabs, to make it easier to find a specific sheet. The written instructions for spacer tabs are below the video.

Personal Information Warning

In some Excel workbooks, when you try to save the file, you'll see a warning message:

  • "Be careful! Parts of your document may include personal information that can't be removed by the Document Inspector."

Here's a screen shot of the error message -- I put the text onto 2 lines, so it's easier to read.

personal information warning message

If you click OK in that warning message, another message appears: "Document not saved."

Document not saved

Turn Off the Personal Information Warning

If you're tired of seeing that message, follow these steps to turn it off, in the active workbook.

NOTE: No other workbooks will be affected by the change to this setting.

  • At the top left corner of Excel, click the File tab
  • At the bottom left, click Options
  • In the list at the left, click Trust Center
  • At the right, click the Trust Center Settings button
  • In the list at the left, click Privacy Options
  • In the Document-specific Settings section, remove the check mark from "Remove personal information from file properties on save"
  • Click OK, twice, to exit the Option settings

Remove personal information setting

Add Spacer Tabs in Workbook

Thanks to AlexJ for sending this Spacer Tab tip. See more of his work on the AlexJ Sample Files page.

In a large workbook, you can colour the sheet tabs, to identify the sections, such as data entry and reports.

change sheet tab colour

To add visual separation between the coloured sheet groups, add a spacer tab:

  1. To insert a blank sheet, select the last sheet in a group, then click the New Sheet button.

    insert a new sheet to use as spacer tab

  2. To rename the new sheet, double-click the sheet tab, and type a single space character.
  3. rename the spacer tab

    NOTE: If inserting additional spacer sheets, use an additional space character for each new spacer sheet, because sheet names cannot be duplicated.

    rename the spacer tab

  4. Leave the spacer sheet tab with its default "No Fill" colour, or change it to White fill colour, to create a bit of "white space" between the tab groups.
  5. rename the spacer tab

Spacer Tab Tips

  1. Don't use too many spacer tabs, because each one will be slightly wider than the previous one. A limit of 2 or 3 spacer tabs works best.
  2. If you are concerned that people might click on the spacer tabs, and be confused by the blank sheets, you can add a message on that sheet, or a hyperlink that takes them back to the main sheet.
  3. hyperlink on spacer shet

  4. When you right-click the Excel Navigation arrows, the pop-up list of sheets will be clearly separated into groups, due to the blank sheet names. This will make it easier to scan a long list of sheet names.
  5. worksheet navigation list

  6. If you view the sheets in the VBA Project Explorer, change the sheet code names, so they are grouped at the end of the list of worksheets. For example, use zSpace01, zSpace02, and so on.
  7. sheet code names in vba

More Excel Tips and Tutorials

Worksheet VBA

List & Close Workbooks

Status Bar Tips

Custom Views

Workbook Backup Tool, Free

PDF Format, Macros to Save Sheets As

Picture Preview - Excel 2016 and later

Preview Picture - 2010 and earlier

Worksheet AutoFilter VBA

Copy VBA to Sheet

VBA - Get Started


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Last updated: March 17, 2023 4:07 PM