How To Learn Excel for Office Work: A Complete Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 February 2023

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If your job needs you to handle data, you are probably familiar with Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet software that lets you organise and analyse data. Excel can help you work with data in a variety of ways, whether you are a beginner or an expert. Reviewing a list of Excel tips can help you utilise the program to the best of your abilities and better understand its overall functionality. In this article, we discuss how to learn Excel for office work and review the top 15 skills and their importance.

How to learn Excel for office work

Excel can assist you in organising data and presenting it comprehensively. With some dedication and commitment, you can learn basic Excel skills in a short duration of time. Learning it makes your job a lot easier and can save time. Here are some ways to learn Excel:

1. Join Excel training programmes

You can start by joining courses that offer good training in Excel. By joining a course, you can become more proficient in Excel and work faster, without having to manually update spreadsheets. This helps you to concentrate on your most essential duties. An appropriate training course can help you master the various dynamic aspects of Excel. They can also assist you in developing a better understanding of the workflows involved in Excel.

2. Use Excel to solve basic mathematical problems

If you are not planning to join a course, you can start by doing basic mathematical exercises in Excel and improving your abilities consistently. The key point to remember is that Excel usually requires you to include an equals sign before a query. For example, if you want to calculate 5 minus 4, you need to type "=5-4" into the cell. The cell then shows the number 1, after you press enter. The same format goes for division, addition and multiplication. If you master these basic skills, you can approach more complex tasks with confidence.

3. Find out how to make tables

A fundamental thing to learn while arranging your data is to create tables. Learning to create a table can enable you to sort data. You can start by trying to make different types of tables with a variety of columns and rows till you finally master the task.

4. Learn how to make charts

After you master the skill of creating tables, the next step is to learn to make charts. Making a chart is almost similar to making a table. However, you have to choose the type of chart that you want to work with and proceed from there. Excel provides a range of visualisations to choose from. Once you select a chart, follow the steps for making a table to get the information visualised.

Related: Types of Graphs and Charts

5. Obtain a Microsoft Office Specialist credential

Once you have mastered basic excel skills, it is advisable to pursue a certification program. A certification indicates your ability to build and modify multi-sheet workbooks, display data and use Excel's core functions properly. Earning the Microsoft Office Specialist Excel certification proves your expertise to potential employers.

Related: Excel Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

How can you use Microsoft Excel for office work?

Your use of Excel may vary depending on your job role and the industry you work in. However, in almost all domains, mastering Excel skills can benefit you greatly. MS Excel has extensive use in the fields of accounting, management, administration, business and analysis.

Excel is used in business and strategic analysis, to collect and arrange data and generate useful inferences. Excel is also used for accounting purposes, where it aids in the management of accounts, customer data and records. The management of operations, people and programmes is yet another field where Excel is useful. For office administration, Excel can help in data collection and bill payments.

Top 15 skills to learn in Microsoft Excel

These are the top 15 Excel skills that you may consider mastering:

1. Using the format painter

Format painter allows you to quickly apply a format or set of formats to multiple cells. This is useful if you want certain cells to have, for example, both italicised and colour-coded information. To use the format painter:

  • Choose the cell with the formatting you wish to copy.

  • Open the home menu.

  • Select format painter.

  • Select the cell where you want the formatting to be copied and paste it.

  • For multiple cells, double-click the format painter icon, and it will leave it active until you deselect it.

2. Selecting the entire spreadsheet

You may need to make changes to the whole spreadsheet at times. To work with the whole spreadsheet, use Ctrl + shift + * to select every single cell.

3. Importing data

In some cases, you might copy the information from other sources into your spreadsheet. But when the data becomes more complex, it is difficult to copy it correctly. To avoid this, you can follow these steps to import the data:

  • Click on the data tab.

  • Select external data.

  • Import the data from your source.

4. Copying and pasting in multiple cells

Consider utilising this approach if you want to copy and paste the same data into different cells:

  • Select the cells you want to paste the data into.

  • In the last cell you select, add the info you want to copy.

  • Click Ctrl + Enter to copy and paste the data from the last cell to all the selected cells.

5. Seeing all formulas

You may be working in a position where you have to share spreadsheets with people on a regular basis. Navigate to the Formulas tab and then click the display formulas button if you get a spreadsheet and want to see which formulae the creator used.

6. Freezing rows and columns

Some spreadsheets get quite long and broad, making it difficult to see the information. In these instances, freezing specific rows and columns at the present location on the spreadsheet might be beneficial. This can be done by:

  • Navigating to the point on the spreadsheet you like to freeze

  • Going to the view tab

  • Selecting the freeze panes option

7. Replicating patterns

Excel is good at detecting and replicating patterns. If you want Excel to quickly duplicate a pattern, enter the first few figures of the pattern in separate cells in the appropriate row or column. Then, in the last cell, click on the little square in the bottom right corner. Drag that square to choose the cells where the pattern should be replicated.

8. Hiding rows and columns

When working on a spreadsheet, you might want to hide some columns you are not currently working on. You can hide rows or columns by using the following commands:

  • Choosing the header of the row or column you wish to freeze

  • Navigating to the format button from the home menu

  • Selecting hide columns or hide and unhide, and then hiding columns

9. Copying and pasting between spreadsheets

Depending on your job role, you may be required to copy data or perform calculations across various spreadsheets. This is simple to accomplish with Excel:

  • Open both worksheets.

  • Press Ctrl while clicking on the tab of the worksheet to which you wish to copy the data.

  • Click on the cell containing the information you want to copy in the other worksheet.

  • Press F2.

  • Press Enter.

10. Managing line breaks

Excel can be used to work with both numbers and letters. Writing phrases, sentences or complete words can expand beyond the cell space. Use line breaks and wrap text to fix this and make your work simpler to read:

  • Choose the cell that contains the text you wish to wrap.

  • Navigate to the home tab.

  • Click on the wrap text button.

11. Adding graphics

To add graphics to your spreadsheet:

  • Choose the cell where your graphic should display.

  • Select the series option with a right-click.

  • Select the graphic or picture and insert it.

12. Including a screenshot

To include a screenshot, select and insert the screenshot into the spreadsheet.

13. Avoiding shifting

If you copy and paste a formula from one cell to another, the new cell becomes the formula's reference point rather than the original cell. Simply put a $ sign prior to the data you do not want to shift, to prevent the reference from moving, then copy and paste.

14. Using keyboard shortcuts

Some of the shortcut keys to save time include:

  • Ctrl + 9: Hide the row

  • Ctrl + 5: Strike the text

  • Ctrl + shift+;: Add the current time

15. Hiding a worksheet

You can hide a worksheet you are no longer using with a right-click and by selecting the hide option.

Where can I learn Microsoft Excel for free?

There are a number of online platforms that provide free assistance in learning Excel. Notable ones are:

  • Microsoft Excel Help Centre

  • Excel Exposure

  • Excel Hero

  • Excel Jet

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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