Asking “How do I use Excel?” is like asking “How do I use Word?” You’re just expected to know. And while those who can effortlessly learn programming probably don’t struggle with Excel sheets and formulas, it isn’t so easy for the rest of us.
But here’s some good news: Excel doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
A few Internet instructors understand that Excel is a sore spot for many, and these people have created free resources that start with the basics of Excel and eventually move onto the harder stuff, all in a clear and concise manner.
So, do you need help with Excel formulas and formatting? Don’t worry. You’re in good hands.
Excel Is Fun
Excel Is Fun is a YouTube channel dedicated to all things related to Excel. It’s managed and run by a guy named Mike Girvin, who is a business instructor at a local community college and a self-made Excel guru.
If you prefer videos, you won’t find a better Excel resource on the Web.
His YouTube channel is home to over 2,400 tutorial videos that explore every nook and cranny that exists in Excel. These videos are carefully organized into 50+ playlists, each targeting a particular focus area (e.g. accounting tips, charts and graphs, interface basics, etc).
The downside is that he doesn’t offer a formula cheat sheet that you can quickly reference. However, if you want to understand Excel formulas and how to make the best of them, this should be your first stop.
Excel Exposure is a learning resource developed by a few folks over at the University of Reddit, which is a community of teachers who provide free courses on a wide range of intellectual and artistic topics. Most of those courses are conducted through Reddit.
Excel Exposure, on the other hand, is a separate resource that’s only lightly affiliated with the University of Reddit. So even if you aren’t a regular Reddit user, you’ll do just fine.
We recommend starting with their Lesson Guide, which is a series of videos and articles that are categorized by skill level: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Various functions are covered throughout the guide.
They also provide a free Master Workbook for download, which is basically a cheat sheet filled with every Excel function, formula, feature, and shortcut that you could imagine.
As strange as the name might be, Chandoo is probably the most comprehensive Excel resource on the Web today. It launched all the way back in 2007, but continues to update with new tips, tricks, and discoveries even to this day.
If you’re an absolute beginner, you should start with the Excel Basics page where you’ll learn how to navigate the fundamentals. Afterwards, you can explore several other pages, which lead all the way to the Advanced Excel page.
If all you need is a quick reference, check out the Excel Formulas page.
For those who prefer a simple, lightweight reference site rather than one that’s aimed at teaching newbies, Excel Functions works well. They do have a few pages that act as an Excel crash course, but that’s about it.
What I like here are the two pages dedicated to Tips & Tricks and Common Excel Errors. The tips will help boost your spreadsheet efficiency, while the errors will cut down on time spent debugging functions and formulas.
They also have a few Excel templates that might come in handy. Then again, we have a few of our own, including these health and fitness Excel templates and these templates for organizing your life. Check them out!
“Quick, clean, and to the point.” That’s the motto behind ExcelJet and you’ll realize how fitting it is once you visit their website. It’s modern and convenient, designed in a way that maximizes your learning, while minimizing the time investment.
Not only does ExcelJet provide bite-sized videos for rapid Excel learning, they have a blog with lots of great Excel tips. Even though the blog hasn’t been updated since September 2014, the videos are up-to-date. In fact, one was just uploaded the other day.
But the most useful part, at least for Excel regulars, is the Functions List. The reference sheet is cleanly laid out and easy to browse. Want to see function descriptions and parameters at a glance? This is the page for you.
Contextures is yet another site dedicated to Excel tips and tutorials. This one is set up more like an encyclopedic index rather than a series of blog posts or videos, which may or may not be preferable depending on your learning style.
But if your goal is to learn Excel’s built-in functions, you’ll probably want to purchase their 30 Functions in 30 Days guide, which is a 150-page PDF with links to relevant video tutorials. It also comes with a sample Excel file with 100+ function examples.
The guide is $10 and available in Excel 2003 and Excel 2007/2010 versions.
Otherwise, you can learn straight from the topical index or the repository of sample Excel files. The sample files are practical examples of how functions are used in real-world scenarios and there are hundreds of them available for free download.
Pearson Software Consulting
The Pearson Software Consulting website is a public service meant to teach the relevant skills for Excel, Office, Visual Basic, and the .NET Framework. As such, a lot of the information here will be irrelevant to you if all you want is a few Excel formulas.
On the other hand, if you’re serious about becoming a Microsoft wizard and Excel is just a stepping stone for you, then the Topic Index should be a gold mine.
Here you’ll find hundreds of helpful tutorials that delve into various Excel features, such as creating dynamic lists, formatting dates, and even creating games. It can be a bit difficult to navigate, however, since all they have is an alphabetical listing.
Unfortunately, there’s no cheat sheet for functions or formulas here.
Now You’re an Excel Master!
With the right guidance, Excel is quite easy to learn. Don’t slow down your progress by trying to fumble through it on your own. Check out the sites above (if you haven’t already) and you’ll become an Excel formula master in no time at all.
Within a few days or weeks, you’ll be able to create your own Excel budgets and know how to manage your life with Excel. Or you could take a more whimsical path and use Excel in weird ways. It’s up to you.
Are there any other Excel resources worth mentioning? How skilled are you with Excel and how long did it take to get to where you are now? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: Excel Formulas Screenshot Via holly