Replace your IF Statement with SWITCH

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Written By Chris

Just a simple "data guy". Changing the world one formula at a time.

Excel provides a sleek solution to manage data decisions with the switch function, a feature that simplifies complex nested decision-making structures like the often bulky nested IF statements. The structure of this function is as follows:

=SWITCH(expression, value 1, result 1, [default_or_value_2, result 2],...)

By allowing a direct mapping from a set value to a specific output, switch streamlines formula creation. It ensures that others can understand and work with your data more easily.

For example, consider a scenario where movie ratings, depicted with star symbols, need to translate into clear text recommendations. Switch turns star counts into cohesive reviews with minimal fuss.

When managing employee incentives, the switch function again proves invaluable.

Imagine assigning bonuses based on an employee’s tenure, represented by a tier status.

Instead of juggling numerous conditions and percentages, switch assigns the correct bonus with a simple, clear structure. This structure adjusts the bonus percentage based on tier status.

The resulting formulas, which I’ll cover with you below, are easier to read and maintain, demonstrating the switch function’s adaptability and power to facilitate various data-driven tasks.

Movie Ratings Interpretation with Excel’s SWITCH Function

In the world of spreadsheets, the SWITCH function in Excel is your shortcut for simplifying complex nested IF statements. It’s an especially handy tool for when you’re dealing with fixed values that dictate certain outcomes.

Imagine you’ve got a movie database, filled with films rated by stars. To help someone easily sift through your list, you can categorize each film with a recommendation based on its rating. This is where the SWITCH function shines.

movie rating table 1

We’ll take the star rating for each movie, symbolized by left-facing arrow characters (the quirk of our display font), and we’re going to call on the SWITCH function to match that rating with an appropriate text recommendation.

Here’s a brief guide on setting it up:

  • Start with =SWITCH( in your formula cell.
  • Select the star rating cell—let’s say B2—as your first argument.
  • Following this, input your star symbol within quotes as the value to match.
  • Specify what text to return for the corresponding star rating. For example, five stars could equate to “Must See.”

Here’s what you’ll continue doing for each star count:

movie switch formula 2

And, you don’t necessarily need to define a result for one star. In case no other value is matched, Excel treats the last argument as the default, so it could automatically return “Pass”.

After you fill in the various scenarios and complete your formula, drag it down the column to apply it to all your movie ratings.

completed movie rating table with switch 3

Not only does this approach ease the creation of your formula, but anyone new to your worksheet will also have a much easier time understanding your data logic.

Bonus Calculation with SWITCH Function

In another real-world twist, let’s determine the Christmas bonus for employees using their tenure to calculate varying bonus percentages.

employee bonus using switch 4

Here’s the step-by-step:

  • First, we want to take the salary in column E and multiply it by a percentage, which will be calculated using SWITCH.
  • Write the SWITCH function to look at the Tier status for each employee.
  • For a Tier 1 status, we assign a 20% bonus. This pattern follows with:
    • Tier 2: 15%
    • Tier 3: 10%
    • Tier 4: 7%
  • The SWITCH function automatically defaults to 0% for unlisted tiers, like Tier 5.
  • Once you enter the first formula, replicate it down the column to apply it for all employees.
employee bonus completed formula 5

Wrapping Things Up

The Switch function elegantly handles varied outcomes like these, changing the bonus percentage calculation in one swift move as the tier status alters.

Remember, though, in any use of the SWITCH function, if the last resulting value isn’t preceded by an identified lookup value, it becomes the default return by omission.

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