Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program that allows users to store, organize, and analyze data. Excel spreadsheets consist of worksheets that are made up of columns and rows. At the intersection of each column and row is a cell that can contain data.
Excel offers basic, intermediate, and advanced functionality to meet the needs of users with different levels of experience. Understanding the key features at each level is helpful for tailoring Excel to your specific data tasks.
Basic Excel Skills
The basic features in Excel allow users to enter, format, and print data. Even those with no experience can quickly learn these fundamental building blocks.
Entering And Editing Data
The first step in Excel is to enter data into a worksheet. This can be done by typing directly into cells or by copying and pasting information. Data can include text, numbers, dates, and formulas. Cells can be edited by double clicking or using the formula bar.
Once data is entered, users can format text, numbers, and cells. Options include changing font, font size, bold, italics, underline, font color, cell fill color, and more. Number formatting allows customizing digits, decimals, percentages, currencies, and accounting formats.
Cell references identify the location of a cell in the worksheet. All cells have a name combining the column letter and row number, such as A1, D26, or IV512. Cell references allow formulas to link to data in different parts of the sheet.
Functions are predefined formulas in Excel that carry out calculations using the data in a worksheet. Examples of basic functions include SUM, AVERAGE, MAX, MIN, COUNT and COUNTA. Functions can be entered manually or selected from the formulas tab.
Excel allows adjusting page orientation, margins, headers/footers, and other settings to create professional printed outputs. Users can print an entire workbook, specific worksheets, or a selected range of cells.
Intermediate Excel Skills
Building on the basics, intermediate Excel skills allow for more robust data manipulation and analysis. Users can organize, summarize, analyze, and visualize data efficiently.
Excel tables automatically format data into a banded row table with autofiltering enabled. Special table tools are added for sorting, filtering, and creating calculated columns. Structured references replace cell references, making formulas easier to understand.
Sorting And Filtering
Sorting rearranges records based on the contents of one or more columns. Filtering hides rows that do not match criteria entered. Used together, sorting and filtering provide a quick way to organize and find relevant data.
Charts And Graphs
Charts and graphs visualize worksheet data graphically using columns, bars, lines, pie charts, scatter plots, stock charts, surface plots, histograms, and more. The chart tools tab provides advanced customization options.
PivotTables And PivotCharts
PivotTables summarize large datasets by automatically grouping, counting, totaling, or averaging data. PivotCharts display PivotTable data graphically. Rows and columns can be arranged via drag-and-drop to analyze data from different perspectives.
Data validation limits cell content to specified whole numbers, decimals, lists, dates, or other criteria. Input messages provide guidance and error alerts prevent invalid entries.
Conditional formatting applies cell formatting selectively based on defined criteria. Rules can highlight cells that are greater than, less than, equal to, or between specified values. Useful for visualizing trends and patterns.
Lookup functions like VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and INDEX MATCH locate specific data from a table or range based on row and column position. Useful for combining data from multiple sources into one table.
Advanced Excel Skills
Advanced Excel techniques take spreadsheet data to the next level, with powerful automation, analysis, and data sharing capabilities.
Power Query (Get & Transform) imports data from many sources, cleans and transforms the data, and loads it into a worksheet. Queries automatically refresh when the data source is updated.
Power Pivot provides a data modeling environment for shaping large datasets. Multiple tables can be linked, extended, and aggregated using one million row capacity. DAX formulas enhance analysis.
Macros And VBA
Macros automate repetitive tasks by recording mouse clicks and keystrokes. The Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language allows creating customized macros, functions, and Excel add-ins.
Advanced formulas combine multiple functions for complex calculations. Array formulas perform multi-cell calculations. Dynamic named ranges automatically expand formulas. Goal seek determines input values needed to arrive at a result.
Data Analysis Expressions (DAX)
DAX formulas extend Excel’s native formula capabilities with new functions, operators, and syntax. DAX allows for advanced calculations across related tables and time comparisons across rows.
Power BI imports data from Excel and other sources and creates interactive reports and dashboards for data insights. Excel data can be refreshed and synced with Power BI through data links.
Share Excel data with colleagues using Excel online, OneDrive, SharePoint, or Teams. Simultaneously edit a shared workbook. Leave comments on cells. Email workbooks using outlook integration.
Learning Excel is a process that goes from basic spreadsheet creation to advanced data analysis and automation. Mastering features at each level will make you progressively more capable, efficient, and prepared for new workplace demands. Start with the fundamentals, then expand your knowledge of Excel’s extensive capabilities over time.