Microsoft developed Excel software that utilizes the power of spreadsheets by organizing numbers and data with formulas and functions. This program is used across business functionalities and is useful for businesses of all sizes. Becoming proficient in Excel can make attaining a Microsoft Excel certification easier. Below, we detail everything you need to know about becoming proficient in the functions of Excel.


The Primary Use Cases Behind Excel


Microsoft Excel has numerous use cases. Some of the most notable ones include:


  • Data entry 
  • Data management
  • Accounting
  • Financial analysis
  • Charting and graphing 
  • Programming


Excel can be beneficial for time or task management and can even use it for financial modeling. It can also assist with customer relationship management (CRM). For those who want to move from a beginner level in Excel to an advanced level, these are the key points to keep in mind.


Getting Proficient in Excel: Everything You Need to Know


There are numerous skills that Excel users need to know, such as how to edit a pivot table in Excel, or utilize basic functions. Some of the most fundamental aspects include: mastering the shortcuts, importing data from a website, filtering results, calculating the sum, and utilizing the power of AutoCorrect or AutoFill. They also need to know the display formulas and how to manage the page layout. However, it doesn’t just end here.


Utilizing the Basic Functions


There are a few fundamental functions that everyone needs to know to be proficient in Excel:


  • SUM: This function helps users add individual values, cell references or ranges, or a mix of them. If users need to add a column or a row of numbers, Excel does the math for them.
  • COUNT: This function enables users to get the number of entries in a number field that is in a range of numbers. 
  • AVERAGE: This gives users the average of a range of numbers.
  • PivotTables: These automatically group matching data and give users access to quick summaries from a giant table


Getting comfortable with these basic functions is essential to building proficiency in Excel. Other tasks important for building proficiency in Excel include:


  • Saving the Excel workbook
  • Completing data entry tasks
  • Building formulas using the commands mentioned above
  • Presenting data summaries 


Getting Familiar With the Shortcuts


To use Excel as effectively as possible, users will need to master shortcuts. Many users are likely familiar with some of the most basic shortcuts, such as ‘CTRL+C’ and ‘CTRL+V,’ that are used for copying and pasting data.


However, there are numerous other shortcuts, such as ‘CTRL+Z’ that undoes the last action, or ‘CTRL+PgUP,’ that allows users to switch between worksheet tabs. ‘CTRL+A’ enables users to select the entire worksheet, while ‘CTRL+F’ is used to find items. CTR+K can also be used for the inclusion of hyperlinks.


Moving Ahead to an Advanced Level


The best way to build proficiency is through regular practice. Users can learn how to become proficient in Excel by creating their own projects, enrolling in classes, or asking for help from professionals. Experimenting with Excel’s different formulas and combinations are two more ways to build proficiency.


After the basics are covered, users can focus on some high-level skills in Excel related to their specific field of work. They can simplify their accounting work, keep track of their business expenses, automate financial statements, and more.

About The Author

Patty is a lead applications trainer for ONLC Training Centers and has worked for the company since 1988. She is technically proficient in all programs and all levels of Microsoft Office, Excel BI Tools, and is certified as a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS). Patty has developed custom courseware, worked as a deskside support specialist and has been involved as a project manager for enterprise-wide Microsoft Office corporate migrations. She is also a trainer and consultant for Microsoft Project and Project Management Concepts. Prior to joining ONLC, Patty worked as a software support manager, developer and instructor.

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