I don’t always like to use helper columns but when I do, the OR function comes in handy. There are a couple of scenarios where I find this useful. First, if there is a column containing a list of values that is too detailed for the information you want to present, you may want to group them. For example, if you’re dealing with a data set of cars and car color is a column and you see values such as Blue, Dark Blue, Light Blue, Turquoise, you may want to summarize them all as “Blue” or “Shades of Blue” for an executive summary type of view.
Another example would be having a data set where a combination of fields represent the grouping of information you’re most interested in. Let’s say you had a potential set of dating candidates where you had age, income, and undergraduate school available to you. And maybe you have a few deal breakers. For the sake of discussion, I’m going to assume you don’t want to date married people or people older than 45 years old. You may want a field that addresses both of these things at the same time.
The syntax of the OR function is simple: =OR(criteria1, criteria2,…). If you use the function alone, you will get an output of True if one of the criteria is satisfied and false otherwise. To perform either of the two items above, you need to combine the OR function with the IF function, and you want to make sure you use quotation marks where necessary so that Excel will interpret your command correctly. Otherwise, your formula may return a false error. I talk about that in more detail in the video (click below to sign up to have it emailed to you for FREE).