Is Excel Hard to Learn? [The Fundamentals You Need To Know]
Excel is a major data management software in the market and very likely one of the most used programs out there. That said, the interest in learning its programming language is superlative. Due to this, there are hundreds of Excel tutorials, but many do not meet user expectations. With that in mind, we’ve decided to answer the question: Is Excel Hard to Learn? Let’s find out if it’s difficult to manage this software and give you some related tips.
Table of Contents:
What Is Microsoft Excel Used For?
As we mentioned in the introduction, Excel is a spreadsheet software designed for data analysis and managing huge amounts of data. Excel works through both basic math functions and complex tasks. Below you will find some ways that Excel can be used.
With Excel, you can manage business operations of different sizes. This software is perfect to control complicated logistics and track moving pieces within the organization. You can also use Excel to control the budget, set deadlines, and more.
You can use Excel to organize data and analyze it. This is fundamental for your business since it can help you make decisions at many levels. Excel allows easy data manipulation since the information is sorted in cells and managed using simple formulas and operations. Excel also lets you perform statistical analyses by recording data, website traffic, insurance claims, supplies expenditures, etcetera.
This spreadsheet program is ideal for office administrators who want to store and organize administrative information. Besides, Excel is a potent tool for calculating invoicing, incomes, and more complex tasks. It also helps contact clients and suppliers easily.
Learning Microsoft Excel, How Hard Is It?
Just like any learning process in life – playing an instrument, painting, cooking, or designing – mastering Excel requires hours and hours of practice. Of course, you can take an Excel course to accelerate your progress, at least in the first steps.
Anyway, if you’re a beginner, completing an Excel essential training course could be a great idea to learn at least the basics. This shouldn’t take more than a few days or weeks and involves straightforward progress. An online course is a good plan to start.
Next, you’ll find some basic tips for your Excel training that will help you to learn Excel fast. Read them carefully and complement them with online courses.
Tips to Learn Excel
Next, we’re giving you some tips you may consider to build your path in the experience of learning Excel. This way, you can take your MS Excel usage from the basic level to the next level. The good news is that all the complexities found in Excel are somehow connected. This means that if you learn the basics, you will very likely learn the next level easily.
Decide Why You Want to Learn Excel
The reason you decide to start learning Excel is relevant to know at which point you must focus your training.
- Do you want to apply for an office job?
- Are you looking to improve the efficiency of your business?
- Do you want to have better control and understanding of the invoicing and incomes of your organization?
Being clear about what to look for will make you focus on the features you need.
Consider Excel Courses
As we mentioned above, one of the best ways to learn mathematical functions and other features of Excel is to take a course. A basic training program will teach about the Excel interface, the Worksheets basics, the data cleaning techniques, the text functions, the data validation, etc. Look for a reliable course that teaches you the common tasks of the program.
On sites such as Linkedin and edx.org offers you can find courses like Analyzing Data with Excel and/or Data Visualization and Building Dashboards with Excel. Below in this article, we mention some of our favorite sites.
Find Useful Learning Resources
When you take a course, you may notice that educators train students by teaching them only the necessary skills. And do not misunderstand us, this is good, but you can expand your knowledge by finding respected learning resources on the Internet. These can help you to jump into more advanced features and get ahead of your progress. Resources such as video tutorials are always useful to complement the knowledge you learn from teachers. One of the best sites to find interesting resources is GCFLearnFree.org.
Learn the Basic Excel Functions
Learning the basics is the cornerstone of mastering any ability in life, and Excel is not an exception. Before attempting more advanced courses or learning other resources, it’s crucial to know backward and forward basics. Many aspects of this program find their resolution here. Below you’ll find some techniques you must learn effectively if you want to get to grips with Excel. And do not worry, just take “Baby Steps” and take your time.
Doing Simple Math
Since Excel works by adding formulas to its cells, learning how to use the most fundamental problems will bring you closer to a basic understanding of these procedures. We’re talking about adding and subtracting numbers and stuff like that. To carry out these operations, the first thing you must remember is to use an equal sign first before any operation.
As you can notice in the image above, if you type =50+50 in the cell, and then press Enter, the cell will display the result: 100. To calculate a multiplication, you’ll need to use an asterisk (*) and forward slash (/) to calculate a division.
AutoSum is one of the strongest points when you start learning Excel. If you need to add several numbers, the best is to use this function to save the entire process. Just select a cell and head to the AutoSum icon, and select SUM. Then, select all the cells you want to sum by sustaining the right click on the mouse. Finally, press Enter.
As a result, Excel will add all the numbers selected together and display the result in the specific cell. Furthermore, you can use the same tool to utilize other mathematical functions, too.
Applying Number Formats
When you go deep into the more complex formulas, your spreadsheet will tend to contain different types of numbers, such as dates, currencies, percentages, and many others. To work with these numbers as a professional, you need to learn to format them to type. To do this, just select the values you want to format and look for the number section at the top of the screen. Next, select the type of number you want to utilize.
As you can see, this functionality will allow you to manage different types of digits and calculate different proportions on your computer. This is a very relevant operation for any person or business that needs to calculate more precise numbers.
Creating a Table
Excel allows you to create a table based on the information you type in the selected cells. This way, you can manage and set up your information more easily. This is a very useful function common to other spreadsheet programs. To do this, just select the cells you want to convert into a table.
Immediately afterward, go to Table and click on Insert Dynamic Table. Then you can add the columns and rows and set up the table.
You can use the dashes in the table to change the information and filter out particular columns, even sort them from one way to another.
Sometimes, the best way to explain and display information from real-life situations is by creating a chart. What’s more, data visualization is easier with a chart. Creating one is pretty easy. To do this, just select the info you want to display and then select ‘Insert Chart.’
Then you can alter the info within the chart by double-clicking on it. It can be used to describe basic data, random variables, etcetera.
Using Functions Manually
If you want to learn fast, you must know that Excel has many functions that can help you carry out different procedures. For beginners, SUM is one of the most basic and familiar functions, which works as a good example to explain other advanced functions.
Enter the word SUM and open the brackets. Then you can select the cells individually and add them together. To do this, hold the Control key and click individual cells. You can also type individual cells separated by a comma if any value is sequential.
Where to Start Learning Excel?
When it comes to education, there are always two alternatives: you can learn something by yourself, or you can go to a professional teacher. The first alternative involves reading articles and watching Youtube videos, specifically video tutorials. The second option, on the other hand, involves participating in free or paid courses that explain all this software's capabilities. We believe both alternatives are recommended. Below, you will find some worthwhile programs.
Excel Online Courses
Some sites, such as Coursera and Linkedin, offer both paid and free courses for learners. Taking baby steps through this type, of course, may help you to understand the basics of the program. You’ll learn at your own pace how to use tables, graphs, and much more. Additionally, these courses will test you periodically to check your understanding of the subject.
Excel Coding Bootcamps
These are short programs that aim to teach specific tools of Excel VBA to those who want to pursue a career in tech. Of course, there are dozens of bootcamps out there, so try to take those that will answer your related questions. Check General Assembly and Springboard. They impart bootcamps in high demand.
Excel Free Resources
This option is for those who maybe are tight on budget. In the Microsoft Excel Help Center, there are a lot of free tutorials and resources that can help users understand the program's basics. Of course, you can also check the free tutorials that many interested influencers upload to the Internet. These give the student quick access to a series of basic resources to start learning Excel and other applications, such as Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. Other resources include The Smart Method and Excel Exposure.
Jobs You Can Get with Excel Skills
Most people attempt to learn Excel to apply for a job. But, what kind of job can they get thanks to these abilities? For instance, data analysis or project manager. Below, we mention these and explain them.
- Financial analyst. Excel, due to its many functions, can help with financial modeling, analyzing numbers, and producing fundamental accounting ratios.
- Accountant. Excel skills are essential for accounts since they deal with numerical data every day. Advanced Excel functions and Excel’s spreadsheets can help in manipulating and organizing data.
- Retail store managers. With Excel, you can manage inventory, budgets, and sales, which will come in handy for retail workers.
- Project manager. Microsoft Excel helps project managers with visualization, planning, and tracking of their projects.
- Administrative assistant. These professionals arrange documents, and schedule meetings using Excel. They also use Excel to maintain databases.
Is Excel Tougher than Google Sheets?
In short, yes, Excel is harder to learn than Google Sheets due to its many functions. Anyway, if you are a novice with spreadsheets, then both programs will be difficult for you. That said, we recommend you learn Excel since its tools and features address many possibilities and solutions. Besides, as you can read in the previous section, knowing Excel is a great advantage when it comes to getting a job.
How Long May It Take to Learn Excel?
Since Excel is an application with many functions and a lot to learn, it can take you about 20 or 24 hours to fully understand this software. If you’re only interested in the basics, it may take you about 4 or 6 hours. Learning the rest is up to you. Anyway, you should pay attention to what you’re learning to shorten the learning curve. And do not rush the process. Take your time.
In a few words, Excel can help you achieve your goals in organizing and analyzing data, planning projects, displaying information, and even getting a good job. Excel is one of those programs that offer almost any solution to any problem you have. We recommend you master Excel to expand your possibilities, manage your finance, and add this skill to your C.V.
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