7 Tips to Improve Your Basic Microsoft Excel Skills

Most people know the power Excel can wield, especially when used properly. But fewer people know how to make the most of Excel. If you are looking for a guide on how to improve your Microsoft Excel skills, you have landed on the right page..

What is Microsoft Excel?

Excel is one of the best applications available on the market for creating spreadsheets to crunch numbers and dashboard reports as well as storing and administering data. This software first appeared on the scene back in 1987, and since then it has grown to become one of the most popular pieces of software for home or business.

This program has several practical uses just waiting to be discovered. Whether you are a beginner, or you already have some skills, Microsoft Excel is an extremely helpful tool to master. In order to make the most out of this powerful software and learn to use it like a pro, you need to improve your Excel skills. We’ve put together a list of unique tips that covers the basics, and can greatly help you take advantage of all of Excel’s features.

1. Master the Shortcuts

Learning some keyboard shortcuts can help you save precious time. Even though most computer and Internet users today cannot imagine navigating online without a mouse or at least a touchpad, you can save a great deal of time by using only the keyboard. You are probably already familiar with using Ctrl+c and Ctrl+v to copy and paste. Some other useful shortcuts that can come in handy are Ctrl+z to undo the last action, Ctrl+PgUp to switch between worksheet tabs, Ctrl+a for selecting the entire worksheet, Ctrl F to find items and Ctrl K to insert hyperlinks. Here is a complete list of Excel keyboard shortcuts from Microsoft itself.

2. Import Data from a Website

Learning how to import data is also very important and can greatly speed up your workflow. If you come across a website with tons of data that is useful for one of your projects, you can convert it into a worksheet by clicking File > Import External Data and click New Web Query. When you click this tab, a new window opens that displays your browser homepage with the URL of the page highlighted. Choose the webpage you want to display, then copy and paste the link into the Address box. Click ok and voilà! Your data is imported into an Excel worksheet.

3. Filter your Results

If you have a large spreadsheet with a lot of information on it, using the Auto filtering feature is the smartest thing you can do. To do that, click Data > Filter > Autofilter. You can then click one of the small boxes and filter the results according to your own needs.

4. Calculate the Sum

Using shortcuts to calculate the sum of an entire column or range of cells can save you a great deal of time, especially if you use Excel regularly. Instead of manually entering the formula, simply use the shortcut Alt + = after you have selected the first empty cell in the column (the one located at the end of the numbers). After you execute this command, press Tab and Excel shows you the result.

5. AutoCorrect and AutoFill

In order to save even more time when working in Excel, you need to learn how to type less. There are two ways to do this: AutoFill and AutoCorrect. AutoCorrect is a feature that automatically corrects misspelled words and typos. To enable AutoCorrect, click the Tools tab and select AutoCorrect.

AutoFill saves you precious time, especially when you are trying to type in a numbered list manually. To activate it, go to the Edit menu, point to Fill and click Series.

6. Display Formulas

With just a single keystroke, you can toggle between Excel’s standard normal display and the display mode, which shows you how the formulas actually appear in the system. The formula is Ctrl + ~. Press this combination once when you are in a spreadsheet and Excel will display formulas instead of the results of these formulas.

7. Manage Page Layout

You’ll want to be sure your printouts look as good as the display onscreen, so you’ll need to know how to manage page layout. You’ll find these options by clicking the Page Layout tab. Consider playing around with options like page numbering, columns, and page borders to see how they work, then branch out.

The Bottom Line

If you want to make your life easier—and possibly impress everyone in your office—all you have to do is to learn these basic Excel skills. But keep in mind that regardless of your level of expertise, there is always something new you can learn about this powerful tool. Whatever you do, try to continually improve your Excel skills—it can not only help you keep track of your own finances, but might lead to a great job opportunity someday!