How to Learn Excel

Discover the power of mastering Microsoft Excel, a valuable tool used across industries to organize and analyze data. Learn about the many resources available for study, including in-person training, live online classes, on-demand lessons, seminars, free online courses, and tutorials.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft Excel is a critical tool used to organize and analyze data across various industries.
  • In-person Excel courses and live online training provide hands-on instruction with immediate access to expert guidance.
  • On-demand Excel study allows for learning at your own pace, often at a lower cost than other options.
  • Choosing the right learning method depends on factors such as your schedule, budget, and learning preferences.
  • Noble Desktop offers numerous Excel courses for beginners and advanced students, in both live online and in-person formats.
  • Mastering Excel can lead to greater job opportunities and higher salaries, as Excel skills are highly valued by employers.

If you are interested in learning how to use Microsoft Excel, this article will cover some tips to help you master this spreadsheet tool. It will also briefly explore which industries rely on Excel for daily tasks and some resources for Excel study.

What is Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application created by Microsoft in 1985. Excel is a powerful and valuable resource for organizing data and numbers using functions and formulas. It also comes with graphing tools to help visualize data findings, a programming language known as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) used to create macros, and advanced calculation capabilities. Excel works on both Mac and Windows operating systems.

The cells within an Excel spreadsheet each contain data, like formulas, numbers, or text, which can be organized and analyzed. Excel is a useful tool for performing various calculations on spreadsheets. It can calculate statistics, perform repeated and advanced calculations, analyze data, and create graphical representations of the data, such as graphs, charts, and PivotTables.

Read more about what Excel is and why you should learn it.

What Can You Do with Excel?

Excel has hundreds of features and tools that help users organize, manage, analyze, and visualize data. The following are just a few of the tools and features that make Excel the go-to for professionals around the globe:

  • In Excel, users can add or average numbers in cells, locate high, median, or low values, count cells containing numbers, and find a product by multiplying cells. It’s also possible to delete extra white space and truncate numbers by removing fractions.
  • Excel can learn your patterns the more you use it so that it can organize your data and ultimately save time.
  • Users can share workbooks with others in real-time to ensure that all collaborators have the most up-to-date version.
  • It’s possible to work on Excel files from the web and mobile and desktop devices.
  • Users can now add data right into Excel from a photo. The Excel app enables users to take a picture of printed data with their iPhone or Android, then convert this image into an editable Excel table. This helpful trick helps users avoid manually entering hard copy data and is made possible through Excel’s image recognition capabilities.
  • Financial transactions can be imported into Excel so that users can organize and review their financial information and receive helpful insights toward making more informed financial decisions.
  • Excel’s PivotTables help users perform analysis and summaries of datasets, regrouping spreadsheet data for more effective comparisons. By seeing data from different perspectives, it’s possible to get a more comprehensive picture of revenue sources and other vital information.

In-Person Excel Training

In-person Excel study is an excellent option for those who thrive in the traditional classroom environment. In-person study allows you to connect with an expert instructor and network with other Excel learners, a benefit that can extend far beyond the classroom walls. In-person study can also help extroverted learners retain information because it provides a platform where questions can be immediately answered, and guidance is provided as needed. However, one drawback is that in-person study requires commuting to and from class for each meeting, which adds time and additional costs.

Top educational providers like Noble Desktop currently offer several Excel courses for beginners and more advanced students. Their Excel Level 1 is a seven-hour, beginner-friendly course that provides hands-on training in core Excel topics, such as graphing, formatting, and printing. You can use Noble’s Classes Near Me search tool to browse a comprehensive listing of more than 120 in-person and live online Excel courses currently available. Courses such as NYIM Training’s Excel for Business Bootcamp, Digital Workshop Center’s Excel Pivot Tables & Pivot Charts Class, and Case Western Reserve University’s Data Analytics Bootcamp all provide in-person study options.

Live Online Excel Training

Learning Microsoft Excel in the live online environment has many perks. You can study Excel from the comfort of your own home or office space, and you won’t have to battle rush-hour traffic or look for parking for each class. In addition, because live online courses meet in real-time, you’ll still have access to an expert instructor who can provide feedback on your work and answer questions as they arise. Classes in the live online environment often provide the same content as in-person study, which makes them a great option for those looking to balance their studies around other professional or personal commitments. However, one drawback of online study is that if you are an extrovert, you may miss connecting with classmates in the traditional classroom environment.

Top educational providers currently offer many different live online Excel courses. Beginners may be interested in classes like NYIM Training’s Excel for Business Fundamentals or ONLC Training Center’s Excel Introduction. For those interested in mastering more advanced Excel functions and features, courses like Ledet Training’s Microsoft Excel Advanced or General Assembly’s Advanced Excel Training would be a good match. In addition, Noble Desktop provides live online Excel courses for those at all stages of learning, such as the beginner-friendly Excel Level 1 and the more advanced Excel Level 3 or Excel Bootcamp.

Free Online Courses & Tutorials

If you aren’t ready to dive into an entire Excel course but are instead looking for an overview of how to work with this spreadsheet app, you can get started learning Excel for free online. Noble Desktop, a top education provider, currently offers this free introductory Excel course. It provides an hour of instruction on practical Excel skills, such as splitting and joining text, navigating shortcuts, inserting screenshots, and removing duplicates.

Read more about free Excel videos and online tutorials.

Additional free online Excel content is available from other educational providers. edX courses teach beginner and advanced Excel skills, such as a four-week Intro to Data Analysis course. Microsoft also has a variety of Excel training videos available for free on topics like tables, charts, formatting, and PivotTables. In addition, Udemy’s Excel 2019: From Beginner to Intermediate covers basic Excel skills like navigating and formatting worksheets and workbooks, as well as formatting ranges and cells.

On-Demand Classes

On-demand training is another option for learning Excel. Unlike live online study that meets at a set time and is led by a live instructor, on-demand study is self-paced and is usually taught through modules with online lessons and video content that students complete on their own time. One of the main benefits of on-demand study is that you can take as little or as long on a lesson as is necessary before moving on to new topics. In addition, this form of study is typically less expensive than other learning options. Best of all, you can complete it from any location with internet access. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that you must be self-motivated to undertake on-demand Excel study, which will require motivating yourself to complete lessons and find answers to any questions that arise along the way.

A variety of on-demand Excel learning options are currently available. Course material is offered for Excel novices, as well as those who have extensive spreadsheet experience and are looking to master advanced functions. Shaw Academy’s MS Excel Training Class Online provides 19 weeks of beginner-level Excel instruction and is available through a platform subscription. In addition, courses such as Exceljet’s Dynamic Arrays or Conditional Formatting are also offered for those seeking information on specific Excel functions. Noble Desktop’s Free Excel Resources & Tutorials is another excellent resource that can help you learn how to create PivotTables, use Excel for data analytics, or work with IF statements.

Which Learning Method is Right for Me?

With so many resources currently available to help beginners learn Excel, you may be unsure which one is the best match for you. Everyone has their unique learning style and preference, so you can experiment with multiple tools to decide which one feels right for you. One of the best parts about directing your learning path is that you are in charge of which combination of tools you prefer, and you don’t have to rely solely on those that a teacher chooses.

It’s also essential to consider your current schedule and time commitments before choosing an Excel learning method. If you are currently balancing responsibilities like a full-time job and family commitments, it may not be feasible for you to devote time to a structured course that requires you to meet at regularly scheduled times. In this case, video tutorials or a self-paced class will likely be a better option because you can access them as your schedule permits. On the other hand, those with more flexibility in their schedules might prefer a structured in-person or live online Excel course.

Why Learn Excel?

Microsoft Excel plays an essential role in the daily tasks of many professionals across industries. The more comfortable you are working with this spreadsheet application, the more you can contribute to your organization. The following are just a few of the reasons learning Excel can be a professional asset:

  • Knowing how to use Excel can make you a faster and more efficient employee. With the help of this app’s shortcuts, tools, and functions, you can complete tasks in minutes that would have otherwise taken hours.
  • Excel users can organize vast sets of raw data in ways that are useful for their organization. This spreadsheet application’s advanced capabilities also provide additional sorting and calculating options.
  • Those who work with Excel can use this app to track business expenses. Excel offers many built-in templates, one of which is designed for professional expense tracking. This expense report template organizes data into columns and allows users to customize labels and headers. Expense reports can also be manually created in Excel.
  • Working with Excel can facilitate teamwork. If you’re working on a project that involves others from your department or other departments within your organization, everyone can work on the same worksheet or workbook in Excel. Real-time updates ensure that all collaborators know any updates or changes to the spreadsheet.
  • Excel knowledge can help an organization optimize its already-existing assets. The applications, software, and programs an organization uses are considered its assets. Only when employees are trained to optimize these resources are they fully utilized. Excel proficiency is one such asset.
  • Knowing how to use Excel can alleviate stress on the IT support team. Employees within an organization who haven’t been trained to work with Excel can strain the IT department, which will likely be responsible for picking up the slack. Training employees to work with Excel one-on-one takes time away from more pressing IT tasks, such as installing hardware, upgrading systems, and maintaining security. For this reason, the entire organization benefits from employees who know advanced Excel skills and don’t have to rely on IT staff for training.
  • Using Excel provides a powerful tool for data visualization. Data visualization is a powerful tool that helps professionals share their data findings in a visual, accessible way that audiences from non-technical backgrounds can understand. Excel’s charting and graphing capabilities allow users to create stunning and understandable data visualizations that tell a data-driven story.
  • Excel expertise can lead to a higher pay rate. Not only does Excel knowledge lead to greater job opportunities, but it can also lead to higher salaries. Excel skills are considered transferable, and most employers see these skills as essential. So, the more you know about Excel, the more professional options you will have that offer better pay.

Learning Excel

Because Excel is such a widely used data management tool, many resources are available for those interested in learning how to use it. Some Excel learners are comfortable studying independently, whereas others who may be newer to spreadsheets prefer having guidance and instruction along the way. The following are some tips for learning how to use Excel, regardless of if you have a background with this app or are just getting started working with spreadsheets:

  • Learn how to navigate the Excel interface. The Excel interface can be a bit alienating to some users who are not familiar with spreadsheets. That’s why it’s a good idea to begin learning Excel by familiarizing yourself with the application’s look and feel. For example, you may wish to spend some time experimenting with the Tab key, which can be used to move from one cell to the one on its right. Another helpful key is Enter, which is used to move one row down.
  • Familiarize yourself with the basics. If you are new to Excel, learning the following basic commands and formulas is a good starting point:
    • Basic math formulas, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
    • Formatting column titles, as well as the content of cells.
    • Auto-fill capabilities.
    • Adding or deleting entire rows, columns, or spreadsheets.
    • Sorting data alphabetically.
  • Learn how to format numbers. At some point, when working with an Excel spreadsheet, odds are your data will contain various types of numbers, such as percentages, dates, or currency. Number formats are useful to help ensure that all like values are in the same format, making it easier to perform analysis and helping avoid errors down the line. To apply a number format, first select the type of numbers you’d like to format. From the “Number” section on top of the screen, select the dropdown that defaults to “General.” This will provide a robust list of formats from which to choose.
  • Learn which types of documents you can create in Excel. Many types of documents can be created in Excel, with a range of professional applications in different industries:
  • Balance sheets are helpful for creating a snapshot of an organization’s overall financial standing.
  • Calendars with a monthly breakdown of time-sensitive information can also be created using Excel.
  • Income statements provide Excel users with a way to monitor sales figures and the overall financial well-being of a business.
  • Marketing reports are useful for organizing various reports pertaining to marketing initiatives.
  • Employee schedules made in Excel can be used to create detailed schedules for each member of your team.
  • Marketing budgets help Excel users keep track of spending and other budgeting information.
  • Freelance invoices ensure that Excel users who work as freelancers will be paid on time for the work they’ve completed.
  • Become familiar with basic shortcuts. At some point along your journey to learn Excel, you will likely perform shortcuts to perform repetitive, otherwise time-consuming actions. Excel has more than 500 keyboard shortcuts to help users work more efficiently. Familiarizing yourself with some early on can help you save time down the line. Here are a few commonly used Excel shortcuts:
    • Ctrl + C copies the information within a cell.
    • Ctrl + V pastes the copied information.
    • Ctrl + Z is used to undo a previous action.
  • Optimize free educational resources. There are a variety of useful online resources for learning Excel. For example, there are many YouTube channels devoted exclusively to this spreadsheet app. For example, Noble Desktop, an educational provider located in New York City, has an Excel YouTube channel devoted exclusively to this spreadsheet application. More than 70 free videos are available on Excel topics like creating SmartArt diagrams, making sketch outlines, and entering worksheet content.

In addition to general guidance on navigating the interface or performing rudimentary calculations, YouTube also has a variety of videos and channels pertaining to specific Excel topics, such as financial modeling, VBA, conditional formatting, and customizing ribbons. Most of these videos are available for free and contain valuable information that can be used if you find yourself in the middle of a project at work and need help with a specific Excel-related feature or function.

  • Enroll in a free seminar. There are many free Excel seminars available online for those interested in learning more about this topic. Noble Desktop’s Top 10 Beginner Excel Tricks You Need to Know provides instruction on common Excel topics and skills like data validation, absolute cell reference, autofill, navigating shortcuts, and inserting screenshots.
  • Take a class. If you want more instruction than you can find via YouTube or other online channels, a great way to learn Excel is to enroll in an online or in-person study. Because Excel is the industry-standard spreadsheet application across professions, many learning options are currently available for those new to Excel and advanced Excel users interested in performing complex calculations. Noble Desktop currently has several Excel courses available that cover basic, intermediate, and advanced spreadsheet functions. Each course is just seven hours long and is designed to provide learners with real-world Excel training pertaining to topics such as printing spreadsheets, formatting worksheets, and creating macros, among others.

In addition, NYIM Training currently has a three-day Excel Specialist Certification. This

bootcamp teaches fundamental, intermediate, and advanced Excel skills, and also includes two hours of private training and the Excel Specialist Exam fee. NYIM Training also has an Excel Expert Certification. This 21-hour certificate program prepares students for the Microsoft Excel Expert exam.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost

The time it takes to learn Excel depends on many factors. Although most consider Excel a reasonably straightforward, easy-to-learn application, the process can be a bit more challenging for beginners who don’t have prior experience working with spreadsheets or data. For those looking to perform basic Excel tasks and become familiar with the interface, it likely will take several hours to acclimate to this app. If you are interested in becoming proficient with more advanced Excel functions for work tasks, you will likely need to devote upwards of 20 hours to master this software fully. Enrolling in an online or in-person Excel class can help to reduce the time it will take to become Excel-proficient.

Before learning Excel, it is helpful to review rudimentary mathematical concepts, such as basic algebra. A solid foundation in math can help you quickly learn and retain Excel formulas and shortcuts, leading to more effective spreadsheet use. In addition, you may also wish to familiarize yourself with the Microsoft 365 suite of productivity applications before working with Excel. Since Excel integrates with other Microsoft apps like PowerPoint and Access, the more you know about the Microsoft family of apps, the better prepared you will be to work with Excel.

Excel is currently available from Microsoft for $160 a year, or $6.99/month if you purchase it as part of the Microsoft 365 suite of applications (which also includes access to Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneDrive). Excel can be downloaded directly from Microsoft via a digital download.

Read about how difficult it is to learn Excel.

Learn Excel with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Are you looking to learn how to use Microsoft Excel, the industry-standard spreadsheet application? If so, Noble Desktop currently offers a variety of Excel courses in NYC and live online. Classes are available for those new to Excel and for learners who regularly work with this spreadsheet application and wish to improve their skills. In addition, in-person and live online Excel courses are available through Noble Desktop or one of its affiliate schools. A variety of course options are offered, ranging in duration from three hours to two days and costing between $229 and $1,099.

Noble Desktop’s Excel Bootcamp provides an excellent option for those who want to master core Excel concepts, such as working with PivotTables and What-If Analysis. Students who enroll in this rigorous, 21-hour course can elect to study in person in Manhattan or learn in the live online environment. This small class comes with the option of a free retake and covers a variety of Excel concepts applicable to the business world.

Key Insights

  • Learning Microsoft Excel is a valuable skill for your professional portfolio.
  • If you’re looking to learn Excel, a variety of resources are available to help you along this journey.
  • In-person Excel courses provide hands-on training with expert instructors in the traditional classroom environment. Live online instruction offers the same benefits as in-person studies, such as access to an instructor in real-time, with the added perk of allowing students to complete classwork from their own home or office. On-demand Excel study can be completed on your own time, at your own pace, in a remote setting.
  • Deciding which learning method is best for you depends on factors such as your budget, your ultimate learning goals, and your ability to commute to and from campus.

How to Learn Excel

Master Excel with hands-on training. Excel is the leading spreadsheet application used by over 750 million people worldwide.

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