How Can I Learn the Basics of Excel?

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When you’ve got stacks of data to organize, you need a spreadsheet that is up to the challenge. As part of the Microsoft Office suite, Excel is one of the most popular options — and for good reason. Microsoft packs a lot of computing power into its Office products, but all that power won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use it. 

Before you stress about learning a whole new program, remember that Excel wouldn’t be hugely popular with both companies and individuals, including students, if it was difficult to learn. Besides guidance and tutorials that are available straight from Microsoft, the internet offers a lot of free guidance to help you learn how to use Excel and other Office programs. Let’s take a look at a few good options to get you started.

Look for Step-by-Step YouTube Videos

There’s no doubt about it — YouTube is a powerhouse when it comes to finding tutorials for almost anything, and that includes mastering Excel. The best perk of learning something new on YouTube is you can visually see the steps and follow along without relying on written instructions that might not make sense. It’s a great site to find Excel videos featuring everything from quick answers for completing a specific task to full tutorials on all the key elements of the program. 

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The only downside is that absolutely anyone can make and post YouTube videos, which means some creators will be far from experts. Be sure to look for videos with lots of views and likes and skim the comments at the bottom. You also want to make sure it’s a recent video with instructions for your version of Excel. The general look and quality of the video may provide a clue to the overall quality as well, although some very talented software gurus aren’t great videographers.


Another great source of beginner Excel training, the site offers easy-to-follow, step-by-step tutorials to help you do everything from enter simple columns of data to complete sheets filled with complex calculations. By the time you finish the free training, you will be able to use the full collection of functions, create charts and more. The tutorial takes you through everything you need to know one step at a time. Finally, you can bookmark pages to quickly access Excel Tips and MS Excel formulas.

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Don’t Forget About Microsoft Office Help

Microsoft Office has a support website designed to help you figure out how to do specific tasks. It also includes broader Excel training for beginners and provides answers to specific questions. If you’re wondering how to create a work planning template or you need to create a monthly expense sheet, Microsoft offers all these answers and more from inside the Excel program. Just click the Help option on the top menu bar or look for the question mark to get answers to common questions.

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Expand Your Skills with ExcelJet

Once you master the basics of Excel, you can take advantage of ExcelJet to make working in the program even easier. The comprehensive website offers training videos, formulas and keyboard shortcuts that reduce the amount of time it takes to do pretty much everything. In fact, the main page for ExcelJet features more than 200 shortcuts for use in Excel in Windows. A link clearly labeled at the top takes you to Excel shortcuts on the Mac as well.

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Take Tutoring Classes

You should never feel like Excel is a program you can’t learn. If you start small and simply tackle one new task at a time, the sky is the limit on learning this efficient spreadsheet software with minimal stress. If you still feel like you’re struggling after using all these free resources, you can look for Microsoft Excel tutoring classes in your area, but keep in mind that you probably won’t find free options. In some areas, public libraries offer free classes for different types of software. Additionally, if you’re a student, your college may offer free software tutorials.

Photo Courtesy: @Microsoft365/Twitter