How to Use the Tell Me Help Feature in Excel 2016

By Greg Harvey

One of Excel 2016’s niftiest new features is the Tell Me help feature available from the Tell Me What You Want to Do text box located to the immediate right of the last command tab above the Excel ribbon. As you enter a help topic into this text box, Excel displays a list of related Excel commands in a drop-down list.

When you then select one of the items displayed on this list, Excel either selects the associated Ribbon command (no matter which Ribbon tab is currently selected) and waits for you to make a selection from the command’s submenu or, in some cases, just goes ahead and completes the associated command sequence for you.

For example, if you type print into the Tell Me What You Want to Do text box, Excel displays a list with the following items:

  • Quick Print

  • Preview and Print

  • Print Preview and Print

  • Print Guidelines

  • Print Area

  • See Help for “Print”

If you select Quick Print at the top of the list, Excel immediately sends the current worksheet to the printer. If, however, you select Preview and Print next on the list, a submenu with Print Preview and Print, Quick Print, and Print Preview Full Screen appears. If you select the Print Preview and Print item, Excel displays a preview of the printout on the Print Screen in the backstage view that you can print. If you select the Quick Print item, the program sends the worksheet directly to the printer. But if you select the Print Preview Full Screen item, Excel replaces the Worksheet view with a full screen print preview page from which you can print the worksheet.

On the other hand, if you type underline in the Tell Me What You Want to Do text box, Excel displays two items: Underline and See Help for “Underline.” If you then select the Underline item, Excel goes ahead and assigns the underlining font attribute to whatever is in the cell that’s current in the worksheet.

If you would rather learn how to complete a task in Excel rather than have the program do it for you, select the See Help for “xyz” item at the end of the list below the Tell Me What You Want to Do text box. This opens an Excel Help window with loads of information about using the commands to accomplish that task.