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Why Excel is worth learning

  • Published on July 14, 2022
Why it is worth learning Microsoft Excel. Image showing Excel spreadheet.

Excel is worth learning for anyone who needs to collect, organize, analyze, or interpret data. As the most widely used spreadsheet application, Excel can be used to create budgets, track finances, and execute mathematical computations. Used across different industries and job roles, Excel makes you more productive at work, provides you with better information and analysis for making decisions, and can keep your personal life more organized, from finances to home projects. Whether at work or at home, Excel is worth learning.

Jobs that use Excel

Because Excel’s is so useful for collecting and organizing information, it has been adapted as an essential tool in many jobs, including:

  • Financial analysts

  • Data journalists

  • Accountants

  • Quality analysts

  • Administrative assistants

  • Retail store managers

  • Auditors

  • Statisticians

  • Human resource analysts

  • Data entry specialists

Even for those working in other fields, learning how to use Excel efficiently can help you to perform more effectively in any job that requires organizing and managing lists, budgets, inventories, or finances.

How learning Excel saves you time

Learning Excel can speed up your work and improve your efficiency. Whether learning keyboard shortcuts, templates, or automating tasks, you can save both time and effort:

Excel keyboard shortcuts

Learning keyboard shortcuts can save you time when accessing frequently used commands and can save you from clicking through the toolbar. Learning even a few shortcuts can save you from repetitive data entry and other tedious tasks. Check out Microsoft Support’s guide for common keyboard shortcuts in Excel. 

Save time with Excel AutoFill and Flash Fill

Auto fill and Flash fill detect patterns within an Excel spreadsheet and can save you time and effort by automatically entering data.

If you enter data containing a pattern into the first few cells of a column, you can drag the fill handle down and AutoFill automatically enters the next values in the pattern. For example, if you enter “January” into Cell A1 and “February” into Cell A2, AutoFill will detect this pattern. You can drag the fill handle down, which automatically inputs the remaining months into Column A.

Flash Fill is an equally powerful tool that can be used to combine data from two columns into one, or one column into two. If you have a list of first names in Column A and a list of last names in Column B, you can use Flash Fill to create a list of full names in Column C. Check out Microsoft Support’s tutorial for using Flash Fill in Excel.

Create and save Excel templates

There is no need to recreate the format of a spreadsheet that you plan on using for multiple projects in Excel. Once you have adjusted the spreadsheet to your liking, click Save As in the toolbar. Enter the name you want to use for the template and select Excel Template from Save As type. If the workbook contains macros, a set of automated actions, select Excel Macro-Enabled Template instead. You can locate all of your created templates on the Home tab under More Templates.

Automate Excel repetitive tasks

Excel uses macros, a recording of an action or set of actions, to automate tasks that users frequently complete. This recording can be run as many times as the user needs in order to complete their task. Check out Microsoft Support’s basic guide to creating macros.

You can learn these techniques and many more in an Excel course with a live instructor. These classes are offered at the introductory, intermediate, or advanced level, and help you to quickly learn Excel.

Which Excel course is best

Before you begin an Excel course, make sure it is tailored to your experience level. While tutorials and courses can be easily found on YouTube, a live, small-group Excel course provide you with an efficient and personalized way to learn Excel and get your questions answered. 

If you’re looking for instruction on how to execute a specific task or project, you can also find that help online. For example, if you’re trying to learn how to use pivot tables or create graphs, there are both written instructions and video tutorials available for free online. However, investing in a course with a live instructor may be beneficial for individuals who need to use Excel for their work or are looking to make a career change. By working with a knowledgeable instructor, you can ask questions and receive feedback, as well as boost your efficiency in the application.

Learning Excel with a live instructor

Although you can pursue a self-taught route with Excel, learning the application with a live instructor ensures that the information you are learning is accurate and that you are proficient before trying it on your own. Projects assigned as part of courses’ curriculum also give learners a chance to practice their new skills before using them in the real world. Additionally, one-on-one instruction can help save Excel users time learning more complex tasks, such as using automation, and provides them with workbook materials to reference in the future.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics classes along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.