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Excel 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Web Queries

The Internet's greatest attraction (other than its ability to help Uncle Charlie auction off his The Y2K Bug Will End Life As We Know It T-shirts) is that it provides a huge mass of continuously updated information. If you know where to look, you can find up-to-the-minute product prices, stock quotes, and sports scores.

And if you're like most web surfers, you can see this information only by using a web browser. That approach works well most of the time, but it limits what you can actually do with the information you find. Because one of Excel's strengths is helping you analyze data—whether it's in your worksheet, a relational database, or an XML document—you'll be glad to know that Excel can also help extract important information right off a live web page. This feature is called a web query.

When you perform a web query in Excel, you suck the data out of one or more tables on a web page and insert it into the cells in a worksheet, where you can work on it just like any other data. Excel also stores the web address you used and some information about the table you queried. That way, when you refresh a web query, Excel returns to the web page, grabs the new information from the same location, and replaces it in your worksheet. That definitely beats copying and pasting!

The Limitations of Web Queries

Excel Web queries seem downright miraculous. After all, who could pass up the ability to insert and update information from across the globe? But beware: Web queries are notoriously ...

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