Office challenge: How do you sum the top n values in a range?

This week's Office challenge shares the solution to last week's puzzling Word problem and tests your knowledge of Excel.

There's an Excel function for almost everything — you can sum or average a range of values, and you can even let Excel decide what values it evaluates! But when a lone function simply can't get the job done, Excel needs a little help. That's the case when summing the top n values in a range. This week, tell us how you'd sum the top n values in a range. You'll need more than a single function. Last week we asked: Why can't I add comments to this document? Perhaps this one was just too easy, because no one took the challenge last week. This situation really did occur. Someone sent me a document for review, but I couldn't add comments. For a second or two I was a bit puzzled, but I quickly discerned that the document was protected. I was able to unprotect the document by choosing Unprotect Document from the Tools menu so I could then enable the reviewing tools. Initially, I thought I was in for a bit of work. What in the world was wrong? Fortunately, good sense kicked in and I checked the protection setting. It just goes to show that most problems usually have a simple solution, if you just know where to start looking.

By Susan Harkins

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.