What is Excel?

Microsoft Excel, a prominent spreadsheet application, offers pervasive features that streamline data management, analysis, and visualization. Its versatile nature and ease of use make it a tool of choice across various professions and industries.

Key Insights

  • Excel, initially developed in 1985, has evolved with multiple versions, adding features like PivotTables, VBA, and additional keyboard shortcuts.
  • The subscription cost for Excel, part of the Microsoft 365 suite, is $160/year or $6.99/month and is directly downloadable from Microsoft.
  • Excel proficiency is a highly sought skill across diverse career paths such as financial sector professions, administrative roles, and academic sector positions.
  • Excel is crucial for tasks like organizing records, scheduling appointments, performing financial analyses, and organizing academic material among others.
  • Excel's advanced features are often a requirement for higher-paying job positions.
  • Google Sheets can be a viable alternative to Excel, especially for collaborative tasks, as it offers similar functionality and real-time data sharing.

Microsoft Excel is a commercial, interactive spreadsheet application that Microsoft developed in 1985. It can perform computations and calculations and includes PivotTables, various graphing tools, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. This language allows Excel users to design an array of advanced numerical methods. In addition, programmers can code directly with the help of Visual Basic Editor.

Excel works on both Windows and Mac operating systems. It operates by using a collection of cells arranged into columns and rows. Once data is entered, Excel organizes and manipulates the values. Data can also be depicted in visual formats like line graphs, histograms, and charts.

Subscriptions to Microsoft 365, which includes Excel and other applications, are available for home and business use.

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.

How Do You Download Excel? How Much Does it Cost?

Excel is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of applications. It is currently available from Microsoft for $160/year, or $6.99/month when purchased as part of the Microsoft 365 suite (which includes access to other core apps like PowerPoint, Word, Outlook, and OneDrive). You can download Excel directly from Microsoft by digital download.

What Are the Benefits of Learning Excel?

Excel Bootcamp: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, Learn From Experts, Free Retake, Small Class Sizes,  1-on-1 Bonus Training. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

It is estimated that more than half a billion people around the globe currently use Excel. Why does this spreadsheet software remain so popular? Those who work with Excel cite many benefits, such as:

  • The application is intuitive and easy to learn, even for non-technical people.
  • Data is immediately visible in Excel without the need to code. Instead, users can cut and paste data and perform drag-and-drop functions. Mistakes can also be easily corrected or undone in Excel.
  • Entering information directly into cells gives users a sense of control over the data.
  • Its cost is relatively low compared to other spreadsheet apps.
  • It is versatile and can help with a variety of tasks across industries.
  • Because there are so many Excel users around the globe, a variety of helpful resources are available online to assist users with Excel questions.
  • Excel makes it easy to sort, adjust, and filter data.
  • Formatting changes in Excel can be performed easily, with one click of the mouse.
  • Excel is a powerful tool for creating dashboards and charts.
  • Excel users can execute simple regression models without specialized training.
  • Excel is committed to continuously improving this spreadsheet application. It has introduced tools such as Power Query to load and transform data without users having to do so manually.

Read more about why you should learn Excel.

Excel Careers

Training with Excel is one of the most in-demand skill sets across industries and professions. Many organizations look to hire those with Excel experience who can perform basic spreadsheet calculations. For this reason, Excel is a popular tool for Administrative Assistants and Office Clerks, who use it to perform daily tasks such as scheduling appointments, organizing records, and customer support.

In the financial sector, Auditors and Accountants rely on Excel to keep track of income statements, tax flows, tax returns, and balance sheets to ensure that a business remains profitable. In addition, Market Analysts and Business Analysts use Excel’s PowerPivot feature to extract crucial insights from copious amounts of data. Financial Analysts and Investment Bankers also regularly work with Excel to help clients make better investment decisions.

In the academic sector, Excel training is a valuable asset for Teachers, Teaching Assistants, and other educators. This spreadsheet software aids with recurring tasks like organizing class material, keeping track of attendance and student grades, and lesson planning. Excel can be a valuable tool for organizing articles and primary sources in graduate and post-graduate research endeavors in higher education.

Because Excel has a wide range of formulas and functions, most job postings currently listed require proficiency with Excel. In addition, higher-paying positions are often available for those who have a mastery of Excel’s more advanced data analytic capabilities. Learning to work with Excel is an essential first step toward launching the career of your dreams in a variety of industries.

How to Learn Excel

Learning Excel has never been easier, thanks to the various in-person and online courses currently available. In-person or live online Excel courses are great learning options. They allow students to connect with expert instructors in real-time and receive guidance, feedback, and answers to questions as they arise. In-person study also allows students to connect with other learners, a benefit that extends beyond the classroom. Live online and in-person Excel classes are currently available for those new to Excel and for advanced spreadsheet users looking to learn more complex Excel functions.

Another way to study Excel is through on-demand Excel classes. Unlike live online study, which meets at regularly scheduled times, you complete these asynchronous classes at your own pace around work and personal commitments. In addition, since they are entirely online, these classes don’t require commuting to and from campus. In fact, you can complete your Excel studies from the comfort of your own home or local coffee shop. Top educational providers, such as Noble Desktop, currently offer on-demand Excel training for beginners and advanced students. Additional courses on spreadsheet tools and techniques are also available, such as Exceljet’s Excel Shortcuts, LinkedIn Learning’s Excel: Advanced Formulas and Functions, and Coursera’s Excel Skills for Business Specialization.

Perhaps you’re interested in learning about Excel but not yet ready to commit to an online or in-person course. In that case, numerous free tutorials, YouTube videos, seminars, and blog posts are also available. Noble Desktop’s free Excel Seminar is a great starting point, which includes an hour of instruction on ten beginner tricks for Excel users. Noble also offers an Excel YouTube channel with more than 70 short video clips on popular Excel topics, such as sorting lists, working with IF functions, and applying conditional formatting. For those seeking free online Excel resources and tutorials, Noble has more than 100 posts pertaining to timely spreadsheet skills, like creating dynamic arrays and using Excel for event planning.

Read the complete guide on how to learn Excel.

A Brief History of Excel

Microsoft Excel was first introduced in 1985. Excel 1.0 was one of the initial spreadsheet applications that included a graphical interface and point-and-click mouse technology. This first version of Excel worked solely on Macintosh. In 1987, the Windows-friendly Excel 2.0 was released. 1990 saw the release of Excel 3.0, which was included as part of the Microsoft Office suite alongside Word 1.1 and PowerPoint 2.0. Excel 3.0 provided new spreadsheet features, like add-in support, 3-D chart capabilities, and outlining tools.

It wasn’t until 1992 that the first hugely popular version of Excel was released. Excel 4 added many new features, such as AutoFill and shortcuts. Excel 5 was introduced the following year and included VBA, the language used by Excel to create macros. This version was also able to support multiple worksheets. When Excel 7 was released, it was part of Microsoft Office for Windows 95 and was rewritten to 32 bits to provide additional speed and stability. From this point on, new versions of Excel were integrated into the Windows OS.

In 1997, Excel 8 debuted with tools such as the paperclip assistant. The subsequent two Excel versions, released in 2000 and 2004, incorporated only minor improvements, such as the capability to import data to Excel from other applications. However, Excel 2007 significantly increased this app’s capacity to 16,000 columns and 1 million rows. In Excel 2010, PivotTables were introduced and remain a core Excel feature today.

Excel’s most recent update was in 2019. This version included improved calculation functions and additional keyboard shortcuts, along with map and funnel charts.

Comparable Applications

If you are looking for a spreadsheet application comparable to Excel, Google Sheets is a capable alternative. Unlike Excel, Google Sheets is a free, web-based application. Like Excel, it allows users to create, modify, and share spreadsheet data in real-time. Excel and Google Sheets have many of the same spreadsheet features, like columns and rows that can be added or deleted. In addition, many of the formulas in both applications are the same. However, Google Sheets is a better option for collaborative purposes, such as working with others in different locations around the country. It allows multiple users to make changes to the spreadsheet in real-time and tracks these changes for every user.

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

  • The first version of Excel was released in 1985. In the decades since, multiple versions have been released with new updates and features, such as PivotTables, VBA, and additional keyboard shortcuts.
  • Excel is a relatively affordable spreadsheet application, costing $160/year or $6.99/month. It can be downloaded directly from Microsoft.
  • Various careers use Excel, from accounting to business analytics to academia.
  • If you are looking for an alternative to Excel, you may consider working with Google Sheets. This application has many of the same formulas but provides additional real-time collaboration features.

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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