In-built with every computing device, MS Excel is a massive application with innumerable features and menu (ribbon) commands. For a novice it’s easy to get confused once he/she opens MS Excel. Yet today almost every job requires having a basic understanding of Excel. Therefore, it is essential for every professional to master the basic skills of MS Excel.
Basic MS Excel Skills to Know
The fundamental Excel skills to be aware of includes being familiar with the Excel UI and ribbons, the capacity to enter as well as format data, calculate summaries via formulas, creating simple reports, charts and dashboards, highlighting data explaining specific conditions, knowing keyboard short cuts and the like. Keeping these in mind, it is crucial to know and master the 5 vital screen areas of an MS Excel file:
Ribbon: This is a spread-out menu and it illustrates Excel features in an easy format. The crucial ribbons include Home, Formulas, Insert, Data and Page Layout
Quick Access Toolbar: A space to place all crucial tools. If you are starting MS Excel for the first time, you will find 3 icons, namely Save, Redo and Undo. You have the option to add on any Excel feature on the Quick Access Bar for easy and fast access.
Spreadsheet Grid: The place to store all data, numbers, drawings and charts. Every Excel file has multiple sheets. However, the spreadsheet grid displays few columns and rows of the active spreadsheet. If you want to see columns and rows then you have to make use of scroll bars at the bottom or left. In case, you want to move to another spreadsheet, then you will have to click down on the sheet name
Formula Bar: Any formulas or calculations that you write appear here. Once you start creating formulas you start knowing its significance
Status Bar: As the name suggests, this shows us as to what is happening on the Excel sheet. This bar lets you know if the Excel sheet is busy setting up a pivot report, calculating formulas and many more. It also displays the summaries of chosen cells
Mastering MS Excel
The above mentioned features demonstrate the MS Excel features that you can notice at a glance as you open the application. But mastering MS Excel would entail being aware of other useful features and its operation tactics. Some of the vital ones include:
Creating Pivot Tables: Simply put, Pivot Tables according to pro Excel users are a powerful feature. This enables you to report and tabularize on the data in the spreadsheet within a less time. Without this feature the same thing would become a tedious process
Using Auto-filters: When you have a data table organized with several information rows, an Auto-filter is a great tool to know and use. This allows you to manage a selection of cells as a table and also filter out specific rows depending on varied criteria. For instance, you might choose to filter a table containing sales data to highlight only the rows where a specific product got sold. Alternatively, you might even choose to filter the same sales table to highlight the sales that occurred between two specific dates
Using the IF function to estimate values of separate criteria: If you want to become a master in MS Excel, then knowing the IF function is an imperative. This is useful as you will be using Excel to write formulas that would show a certain result if something is true and another if something is false. The IF function is of use here
Locking/Freezing of columns and rows: Whilst working on a huge spreadsheet you might get lost scrolling through all the data entered. This is where Freezing/Locking columns or rows prove useful, so that as you scroll across or down they don’t disappear
Since MS Excel is a huge application it has many other useful features like relative/absolute references, rounding numbers, scaling the spreadsheet and many more. Today, there are many online Excel courses and easy “learn it yourself” MS Excel guidelines available to help anyone learn how to master MS Excel.