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How to Become a Microsoft Excel Expert in 2024?

How to Become a Microsoft Excel Expert in 2024?

Microsoft Excel helps businesses manage and organize large amounts of data, making it easier to analyze and draw insights from. Thus, there are more opportunities for Microsoft Excel experts presently to make informed decisions based on data insights. In this blog, you’ll discover everything you need to become an Excel expert, from basic formulas and functions to advanced automation tools, data visualization techniques, and more. 

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In today’s digital age, using Excel effectively is becoming increasingly important for professionals in various industries. Excel is a powerful tool that can be used to do data analysis, create MIS reports, and make informed business decisions. You can follow the below steps to build a career as a Microsoft Excel expert in 2023.

Basic Excel Skills

Before we dive into advanced Excel skills, it’s important to understand the basics. Below are some fundamental skills required to work with Excel. These include creating and editing spreadsheets, formatting cells, and data, and working with formulas and functions.

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Understanding the Excel Interface

The Excel interface consists of rows and columns that form a grid to organize data in a worksheet. The rows run horizontally across the sheet, while the columns run vertically. Each row and column intersection forms a cell where you can enter data or formulas. A collection of worksheets makes up an Excel workbook.

To navigate this interface efficiently, you need to learn how to select cells, enter data, use the ribbon and quick access toolbars, modify views, etc. Let’s look at these concepts in detail:

  • Selecting Cells – You must select cells to perform actions like entering data, formatting, copying, etc. You can select cells by clicking them with the mouse or using keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + Arrow keys. You can select a single cell, a range of adjacent cells, or non-adjacent cells.
  • Entering Data – Double-click a cell to enter text, numbers, or dates. You can also use the F2 shortcut key to edit the cell.
  • Using the Ribbon – The ribbon at the top organizes commands into tabs like Home, Insert, Formulas, etc. Each tab contains groups of related commands. The ribbon replaces the traditional toolbar used in older versions of Excel.
  • Using the Quick Access Toolbar – The quick access toolbar provides one-click access to commonly used commands like Save, Undo, and Redo. You can add or remove other frequently used commands from the quick access toolbar.
  • Modifying Views – You can change the view to see more or less of the worksheet using the zoom level. Some options are fixed percentages like 100% and Fit Sheet on One Page, which fits the entire sheet on the screen. 

Understand the Count Function in Excel and how it is used to make data analysis easier

Creating and Editing Spreadsheets

Creating and Editing Spreadsheets

Once you get familiar with the interface, you can start creating and editing Excel spreadsheets. Here are some primary things you need to learn:

  • Entering Data into Cells – Double-click a cell to enter a value or text.
  • Using Editing Tools – Use cut, copy, paste, and paste special to move and replicate cell contents. These tools allow you to rearrange spreadsheets easily.
  • Inserting or Deleting Rows and Columns – Right-click a row or column header and choose to insert or delete to add or remove rows and columns based on your needs.
  • Using Templates – Excel has built-in templates for budgets, schedules, invoices, etc. Use these templates to create spreadsheets quickly.
  • Naming Ranges – Naming ranges of cells makes complex spreadsheets easier to navigate and comprehend. You can name a range based on its contents or purpose.
  • Linking Sheets – You can automatically link worksheets to update values and generate reports and Power BI dashboards. A change in one sheet will reflect on the linked sheets.

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Formatting Cells and Data

Excel provides several options to format your cells and data. Formatting makes spreadsheets visually appealing and easier to understand. Some key formatting features are:

  • Cell Fill Color – Use the fill color option to highlight cells in the worksheet. You can choose a solid color or create custom color patterns.
  • Text Formatting – Make text bold, italic, underlined, or struck through using the formatting toolbar. You can also change the text font, size, and color.
  • Cell Borders – Add customizable borders around cells to highlight groups of cells or separate data. Borders can be dashed, thick, or double lines in different colors.
  • Cell Alignment – Align cell contents left, center, or right, as well as top, middle, or bottom aligned using the alignment toolbar.
  • Number Formatting – Choose from many built-in number formats like currency, percentage, date, time, fraction, etc. to display cell values. You can also create custom number formats.
  • Conditional Formatting – Highlight cells automatically based on their values using conditional formatting. For example, shade cells in red if the value is below a certain number.
  • Cell Styles – Apply styles to format cells with one click. You can modify existing or create new cell styles with custom formatting.
  • Wrap Text – Allow text to wrap to multiple lines within the same cell using the wrap text option, so all text is visible.

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Working with Formulas and Functions

Formulas and functions allow you to perform calculations on the data in Excel workbooks. To become an expert in Excel formulas and functions, you need to learn the following:

  • Formulas – A formula is an equation composed of values, cell references, operators, and functions. For example, =C2+B5 is a simple formula to add the values in cells C2 and B5.
  • Functions – Functions are predefined formulas in Excel for performing specific calculations. For example, =SUM(B2:B5) sums the values in the cell range B2:B5. Excel has over 300 functions for all types of calculations.
  • Operators – You need operators like +, -, *, / to combine values, cell references, and functions in a formula.
  • Cell References – Use cell references like A1 and R1C1 to refer to cell values in formulas rather than the values themselves. This makes formulas dynamic and reusable.
  • Nested Formulas – You can nest multiple formulas within each other for complex calculations. For example, =SQRT(SUM(B2:B5)) nests the SUM function within the SQRT function.
  • Formula Auditing – Use formula auditing tools like error checking, evaluating formulas, and watching windows to trace the calculation and check for errors in complex spreadsheets.

Learn how to use AutoSum to quickly and easily sum numbers in your Excel spreadsheets!

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Basic Data Analysis Techniques 

Excel provides many features for analyzing raw data in workbooks. Some basic techniques you need to learn are:

  • Sorting – Sort your data alphabetically or numerically in ascending or descending order using the sort feature. You can sort data across multiple columns.
  • Filtering – Use filters to view specific types of data in a dataset. For example, filter a worksheet to see only the data for a certain region or department.
  • Subtotals – Group data into categories and add subtotal values using the subtotal feature. This allows you to collapse and expand the levels of detail in your data.
  • Validating data – Set validation rules to control the type of data that can be entered into cells. Validation can restrict values to a list, data range, integers, etc. to ensure accurate data entry.
  • Data Consolidation – Consolidate data from multiple worksheets or workbooks into a single worksheet for analysis using the data consolidation feature and keep your data protected.
  • Quick Analysis Tool – Use the quick analysis tool to automatically analyze data and get insights into statistics like averages, medians, quartiles, charts, etc. It provides a quick overview of your data.

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Intermediate Excel Skills 

Intermediate Excel Skills

At the intermediate level, you need to master some more advanced Excel skills like:

  • Lookup Functions – Use lookup functions like VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and INDEX MATCH to find data in other worksheets or workbooks. These functions are useful for creating automated reports.
  • Data Tables – Create one and two-input data tables to see how changes in input values affect the results of formulas. Data tables are useful for performing what-if analysis.
  • Scenario Manager – Use the scenario manager to create and compare different sets of input values and formulas. Like data tables, the scenario manager allows for in-depth what-if analysis.
  • Solver – The solver tool finds the optimal solution to complex problems by adjusting multiple input values to achieve the desired result. It is useful for optimization and finding solutions to constraints.
  • Recording and Using Macros – Record and edit macros to automate repetitive tasks in Excel. Macros save you time by allowing you to execute multiple commands with a single macro.
  • PivotTables – Create PivotTables and PivotCharts to summarize, analyze, explore, and present data in different ways. PivotTables are a powerful way to quickly pull meaningful insights from your data.
  • Importing and Exporting Data – You need to be able to import data into Excel from various sources like Access, SQL, the web, text files, etc. You also need to know how to export Excel data to different formats for use outside of Excel.

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Advanced  Excel Skills

At an advanced level, you need to learn complex data analysis techniques like:

  • Regression Analysis – Regression analysis is significant for forecasting and modeling the impact of input variables. Thus, use the regression analysis tool to measure the relationship between two variables and predict the value of one variable based on the other.
  • Sensitivity Analysis – Sensitivity analysis helps you determine how sensitive the results of formulas or PivotTables are to changes in input values. It is useful for identifying potentially invalid assumptions and compounded errors in spreadsheets.
  • OLAP Cubes – Create OLAP cubes to analyze data from your spreadsheets in a multidimensional form. OLAP tools provide fast manipulation of multidimensional data for complex data analysis tasks like budgeting and forecasting.
  • What-if Analysis – Perform intricate what-if analyses using features like data tables, scenario managers, solvers, etc. This allows you to see how formulas and values change based on multiple input values. It helps in decision-making and optimizing key metrics.

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Shortcut Keys and Formula

We have divided some of the shortcut keys and formulas that might prove beneficial for you:

BasicCtrl + C – Copy selected cellsCtrl + V – Paste copied cellsCtrl + X – Cut selected cellsCtrl + Z – Undo last actionCtrl + A – Select all cells in the worksheetAlt + = Auto sum selected cellsCtrl + Home – Move to the beginning of the worksheetCtrl + End – Move to the end of the worksheetF2 – Edit selected cellCtrl + B – Bold selected text
IntermediateCtrl + Shift + L – Turn on/off Filter

Alt + H + O + I – Insert new column
Alt + H + D + S Remove duplicates

Ctrl + Shift + % – Apply percentage formatting

Ctrl + ; – Insert current date
Ctrl + Shift + : – Insert current time

=IF(condition, value if true, value if false) – Basic IF function

=VLOOKUP(lookup value, range, column index, exact match) – Basic VLOOKUP function

=SUMIF(range, criteria, sum range) – Basic SUMIF function

=COUNTIF(range, criteria) Basic COUNTIF function
AdvancedCtrl + Shift + Enter – Array formula
=INDEX(array, row number, column number) – INDEX function
=MATCH(lookup value, lookup array, match type) MATCH function
=SUMIFS(sum range, criteria range1, criteria1, criteria range2, criteria2) – Advanced SUMIFS function
=COUNTIFS(criteria range1, criteria1, criteria range2, criteria2) – Advanced COUNTIFS function
=IFERROR(value, value if error) – IFERROR function
=SUBTOTAL(function number, range) – SUBTOTAL function
=TRANSPOSE(array) – TRANSPOSE function
=OFFSET(reference cell, rows, columns, [height], [width]) – OFFSET function
=INDIRECT(ref_text, [a1]) – INDIRECT Function

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By starting with basic skills and gradually progressing to intermediate and advanced techniques, you can become proficient in Excel and open up a world of opportunities in various fields like finance, accounting, data analysis, and more. Remember to always keep learning and exploring new features and functions in Excel to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices. With the right mindset and resources, anyone can become a Microsoft Excel expert in 2023.

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About the Author

Data Analyst & Machine Learning Associate

As a Data Analyst & Machine Learning Associate, Nishtha uses a combination of her analytical skills and machine learning knowledge to interpret complicated datasets. She is a passionate storyteller who transforms crucial findings into gripping tales that further influence data-driven decision-making in the business frontier.