Tables began as lists in the menu version of Excel, but they've become more powerful in the Ribbon versions. Converting a data range into a table extends functionality, which you can then use to work more efficiently and effectively. Here's a look at why you should consider using a table instead of an ordinary data range.
To create a table, click anywhere inside the data range and click Table in the Tables group on the Insert tab. This article doesn't include step-by-step instructions for working with lists (the table's predecessor) in Word 2003, although much of the functionality is present in the older list feature. Also, bear in mind that as handy as tables are, they don't accommodate all of Excel's features. For example, you can't use Excel's Subtotal feature with tables. When you need a feature that tables don't support, temporarily convert the table into a range.
1: Easy sorting and filtering
Excel automatically adds filter controls to the header row when you convert a range into a table. You don't have to do a thing but use them to sort and filter the table's records. You can execute a sort quickly by choosing a criteria item or color from the drop-down. Figure A shows the results of using a filter control to display only those records that meet the selected item (or color).
2: Quick formatting
Excel automatically applies a banded row format to new tables. If you don't like that format, you can choose a new one from 60 predefined formats in the Table Styles gallery on the contextual Design tab. You can also use the Format As Table option on the Home tab. As you hover over each option, Live Preview updates the actual table, as shown in Figure B. That means less experimentation and reformatting.