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By Samantha Allen
12 Sep 2018

5 most useful things to learn about Microsoft Excel

1. The basics - how to use Microsoft Excel as a beginner.

Microsoft Excel is like a necessary evil. Whether you love or hate it, you can’t really avoid using it. It’s one of those tools that we can’t imagine ever going away. It’s just too damn useful. There aren’t many businesses that would claim to not needing Excel for one thing or another.

From the simplest spreadsheets through to complicated systems, everyone in your business should know how to use Microsoft Excel on a basic level.

Basic uses of Microsoft Excel include:

Financial - bookkeeping, calculating profit and loss, sales, cash flow, forecasts, etc.

Sales & marketing - targets, plans, actuals and predicted, campaigns, sales pipelines. etc.

Customer support - CRM, customer details, addresses, order status, customer history, relevant notes, etc.

Admin - stock lists, suppliers, costs, purchase history, etc.

Non business use - meal plans, grocery shopping & recipes, personal budget and finances, guest lists for weddings or parties, wedding planning, to-do lists, etc.

No matter what your job is, you’re bound to benefit from knowing how to use Microsoft Excel. Understanding and learning the basics of Excel will also help you in general life as well as in business and your career. Knowing how to use Excel as a beginner will even help you if you use another spreadsheet program such as Google Sheets, OpenOffice or LibreOffice.

So how do you begin to learn how to use Microsoft Excel?

If you’re on a shoestring budget then there are free resources available. Microsoft have a great support center with loads of free guidance and resources. There are also some other online resources so you can learn at your own speed and not necessarily spend a penny. But if you’re a managing director, line manager or business owner looking to get your staff trained up quickly and to a guaranteed standard, your best option is to book some in-house training at your office.

Whether you have one or one thousand staff members who need training, Go.Courses can deliver the training at your office over the course of a day or more, to suit your needs. The Introduction to Microsoft Excel course for beginners is ideal for a foundation level. This course is available at a choice of several locations and dates, or as live training at your office through Virtual Live Online or in person.

2. Pivot Tables - what is a pivot table?

Pivot tables are pretty magical. Why? Because they save you SO MUCH TIME. And who doesn’t want to save time?! But what does a pivot table do?

A pivot table in Microsoft Excel is basically an easy way to sort through lots of data and give you a specific result or a simple answer to a question. Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re an international business selling products through a team of salespeople all around the world. You have all your data from the past quarter that tells you how many products were sold, when and by which salespeople. If you asked the question: “I wonder who my best salesperson was this month and which region they did best in?”, you can get the answer extremely quickly and easily using a pivot table. Doing this manually would take several calculations and a fair amount of brain power. With a pivot table, you can get the answer from your Excel spreadsheet in a couple of clicks.

Understanding how to use pivot tables in Microsoft Excel is usually covered in any intermediate or advanced Excel training courses. If you want your team to become experts at pivot tables then enroll them on the 3 day in-depth training course for Analyzing Data with Excel. If you’d prefer your training short and sweet then the 1 day Microsoft Excel Intermediate training course will be ideal. Both training courses can be done at your office or at a choice of locations.

3. Conditional formatting.

With conditional formatting you can change the colour of your spreadsheet cells based on the value. This not only makes your spreadsheet look more impressive - who doesn’t like a pretty spreadsheet?! But it also helps to give you an overview of what’s happening within your data. Using conditional formatting your spreadsheet can become a dashboard for your business. You can create a traffic light system and colour coded alerts so you have a clear idea of what’s happening at a glance.

Depending on the skill level of the team member you’d like to train up, conditional formatting is covered in both the intermediate and advanced training courses. Both of these can be done at your office or at a choice of locations, as with all the Go.Courses training courses.

4. Working with formulas.

We’ve all heard of formulas, but do we know how to use them in a way that helps our businesses? With the right knowledge, formulas can save an awful lot of time. Formulas enable you to do complex calculations without having to figure them out manually. Unlike using a calculator to give you an answer, using formulas in Microsoft Excel allows you to see the calculations broken down into all the components, making it easier to spot and fix any errors. They also update automatically if you change any of the data. Pretty magical stuff.

If you want your team members to learn the magical art of formulas in Excel this is covered in both the intermediate and advanced training courses previously mentioned. So determine the skill level of your team members and get them enrolled onto either of the 1 day Microsoft Excel courses.

5. Macros.

Macros are advanced Excel territory, but very nifty things. They can save you lots of time and effort. Basically it’s an automated script that lets you record actions that you’ve done with your keyboard or mouse and play them back. This makes it much faster to do repetitive tasks without any mistakes.

Macros in Microsoft Excel are an advanced feature and are covered as part of this 1 day Microsoft Excel Advanced training course that can be done at your office or at a choice of locations.

If you have any questions about learning and understanding Microsoft Excel we’re here to help! Go.Courses are on a mission to bring you the world’s best IT and business skill courses. We want you to save time, hassle and money while giving you the skills to be the best you can be.

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