Excel for Beginners (and “dummies”)
This is a beginners guide to Excel spreadsheets
This is a beginners guide to Excel spreadsheets
Welcome to our free Excel for beginners guide! In this guide, we will give you everything a beginner needs to know from what is Excel, to why do we use, and what are the most important keyboard shortcuts, functions, and formulas. If you’re new to MS Excel, then you’ve come to the right spot and our dummies guide to Excel will give you the foundation you’re looking for.
Launch our free YouTube course on Excel for beginners below!
The Microsoft Excel program is a spreadsheet consisting of individual cells that can be used to build functions, formulas, tables, and graphs that easily organize and analyze large amounts of information and data.
Excel works like a database, organized into rows (represented by numbers) and columns (represented by letters) that contain information, formulas, and functions used to perform complex calculations.
The first version of Excel was released by Microsoft in 1985, and by the 1990’s was became one of the most widely used and important business tools in the world.
Today, Excel is still a ubiquitous program found on just about every personal and business computer on the planet.
Launch our free Excel crash course. The best way to learn is by doing, which is why our FREE step by step tutorial on how to use Excel is the most efficient way to learn with your own spreadsheet.
To master the art of Excel, check out CFI's FREE Excel Crash Course, which teaches you how to become an Excel power user. Learn the most important formulas, functions, and shortcuts to become confident in your financial analysis.
Browse all of CFI’s Excel courses to take your career to the next level!
Simply put, Excel is the easiest way to organize and manage financial information, which is why most businesses use it extensively. If offers total flexibility and customization in the way it’s used.
Another reason we use Excel is that it’s so accessible. With virtually zero training or experience, a user can open up a workbook, start inputting data and begin calculating and analyzing information.
Here are the top 5 reasons we use Excel are:
There are hundreds of formulas and combinations of formulas that can be used in Excel spreadsheets, but since this is an Excel for beginners guide, we have narrowed it down to the most important and most basic ones. We also cover all of these functions and more in our Free Excel Crash Course.
The most important functions include:
Here is a more detailed list of Excel formulas and functions. We recommend familiarizing yourself with all of them to become a proficient user.
If you use Excel frequently it’s important to be able to work as quickly as possible. Using Excel shortcuts is the best way to speed up your skills. By avoiding the mouse you can save cut down on the time it takes to click through each step of a procedure. Keyboard shortcuts, on the other hand, are much faster and allow the user to move around the spreadsheet much more efficiently.
The most important Excel shortcuts include:
In order to improve your Excel skills, you need to practice. It’s not enough to simply read the functions and formulas in an article like this, you also have to watch and learn from the power users. Many of the functions and formulas, sadly, are not intuitive or obvious, so you’ll need to go over them many times on your own before they become natural for you.
Check out our free spreadsheet formulas course to watch an Excel power user in action!
After you’ve taken the course, try recreating everything on your own from scratch, and see if you can remember all of the formulas and functions.
There are many jobs that used workbooks on a daily basis. In fact, it’s hard to think of a job that doesn’t use this program. Even though technology has changed the way we work in many careers, Excel has remained as one of the few tools that is so simple and powerful that it seems to remain no matter what other software comes out.
Just about every office job requires Excel. The broad categories of careers that use Excel are:
At CFI we specialize in finance and accounting roles, so in our universe of jobs, there are many different careers that use Excel.
Explore our interactive career map to learn more about finance jobs beyond our dummies guide to Excel for beginners.
Some of the most common finance jobs that use Excel are:
Hopefully, this Excel for beginners guide has given you a good start. Our free Excel crash course would be a great next step for you!
The best wy to learn is to open up a new workbook and try using all the formulas and functions we’ve given you in your own spreadsheet.
Once you’re comfortable with the material in this article, take a look at the free crash course below and you’ll be a power user in no time. You can also check out some intermediate level Excel tips and formulas.
If you prefer to learn by reading, there are plenty of Excel books that are highly regarded. The Excel Bible by John Walkenback is an extremely comprehensive book that you may want to consider.
If you liked our guide to Excel for beginners we think you’ll love these helpful resources as well. Since the key to becoming great at Excel is lots of practice, we highly recommend you explore these additional resources to expand your knowledge and move past the introductory level. The return on investment of your time spent will be well worth it!
Most popular resources include: