10 Excel skills everyone should have

Microsoft Excel makes creating budgets, keeping tallies and managing lists extremely easy… but only if you know how to use it.

To this end, I’ve listed 10 Excel skills I believe every office worker should have to get the greatest benefit out of Microsoft Excel.

Entering Data

All office workers should know how to navigate an Excel worksheet and enter information. This includes being able to identify items such as cell, row, column, range and worksheet.

Using fonts, shading and borders

Entering information into Excel is one thing, but making it easy for others to understand is a separate and equally important skill. Fortunately, this can be done by through appropriate use of headings, font formats, cell shading and borders.

A well formatted Excel spreadsheet

A well formatted Excel spreadsheet

Formulas and functions

Excel allows you to perform calculations automatically. This makes it the perfect tool for creating budgets and timesheets. To understand formulas and functions, a person should be able to use the basic maths functions ( + – * / ) as well as the key functions such as SUM, AVERAGE, MAX and MIN

Absolute and relative references

Using the fill handle to copy formulas within a worksheet is a fantastic time saver. However, without an understanding of absolute and relative references, the copying process can go awry.

If function

Working with information which requires you to apply different formulas to different items – for example, a GST price list – can be simplified through use of the IF function. This function allows you to make statements such as “If GST applies, then add 10% to the price, otherwise, do nothing.”

Count functions

If you are keeping a tally – for example, a count of the number of people who visit your organisation – the COUNT, COUNTA and COUNTIF functions make calculating totals extremely easy by allowing you to determine what to include or exclude in your count.

Labels and names

Excel provides you with a way to name cells and ranges and refer to these names in formulas. Not only does this make your formulas easier to understand and work with, but they can also be used as bookmarks allowing you to quickly navigate around your spreadsheets.

Sorting and filtering data

Excel provides powerful tools to help you when you work with long lists – such as mailing lists or customer records. It provides you with tools which will allow you to filter information – displaying only the records you are interested in – and sort information – sorting the records into a specified order.

An Excel spreadsheet with a filter

An Excel spreadsheet with a filter

Data linking

Data Linking gives you the ability to produce Executive Overview worksheets. These data-linked sheets not only provide a simple way to view and read complex, underlying information but they also update automatically when this underlying information is changed.

Printing Excel pages and page setup

There are many tricks when it comes to printing an Excel spreadsheet, including setting the print area, printing gridlines to make the printed spreadsheet easier to scan, and, adapting the margins and scaling pages to make your spreadsheet fit on a single page. Knowing these tricks will make printing out readable and useful spreadsheets quicker and less stressful.

If you would like to brush up on any of these skills or learn some new ones, why not organise a half day session for yourself or your team for as little as $350. For more information, either visit my training page or contact me.

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  1. Keith

    Thanks David. I’ll read up on those skills and teach myself. Sorry, no $350 this time.

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