How Can I Improve My Excel Skills?

I have been asked this question many times so I thought I would write this post as a reference that I could share with anyone who wants to improve their Excel skills.

Download the Excel file from my OneDrive (file 00126)

1   How Do You Learn?

What is your learning style? Reading? Watching & listening? Hands on? Classroom? Private tutor?  It’s probably some combination of these factors.  Experiment a bit and find the right mix for you.


2   Define Your Goals

Make your goals as specific as possible:

Once you accomplish one goal you can add another. Microsoft Excel has built in features, worksheet functions, and a programming language.  There are infinite ways to combine them.


3   Free Or Paid?

There is a ton of free Microsoft Excel material on-line.  Websites, Blogs, YouTube channels, Twitter,  Podcasts, etc.  However, it does take more time to sort through all of this material and determine: (1) which sources are trustworthy, (2) which sources fit your learning goals and learning style.  If you’re not self employed then don’t forget to check with your employer regarding existing courses they may have.

Consider this free class taught by University Professor Felienne Hermans.


4   What is your current level?

Before you join a class or buy a book ensure that you know what you current level is. This can be a bit challenging to determine but examine the table of contents or course outline carefully and this will help. Most on-line courses offer samples or even trial memberships. Excel MVP Tom Urtis has an Excel AptitudeTest


5   Join The Online Community

If you are new to Microsoft Excel you’ll be amazed at the number of online community options that exist.  Of the thousands of possibilities, here are just a few examples that I recommend:

Twitter: Follow Tom Urtis to get his formulas tips. I favorite many of his tweets so that I can find them later.

YouTube: Mike Girvin is the Michael Jordan of Excel on YouTube.  The amount of free material is amazing!

LinkedIn: Many Excel groups. Ask questions and read responses. Excel Gurus, Excel Hero, Excel TV etc.

Blog: Chandoo has a great sense of humor with many creative posts. But be careful as he sometimes gives you homework!

Forum: Mr Excel message board has many incredibly knowledgeable experts! Bill also has a YouTube channel, writes books and gives seminars. He’s even taught a class at NASA!


6   Get Your Hands In The Data!

As helpful as books and videos can be, at some point you must open Excel and jump in!

Audit Templates: Learn by taking apart and studying templates. Later on you’ll be able to audit larger Excel models. I would recommend Vertex42 and Contextures.

Build an Excel Model: Think of something that you’re interested in, write down the design and build it! You will learn along the way by necessity. Stuck? Ask for help from the on-line Excel community (Step 5 above).


7   Keep Track Of Your Progress

Now that you’re more aware of the overwhelming amount of learning resources you’ve got to have a way to keep track of everything that you learn or want to learn.

Use my template ‘Learn Excel Template‘. Watch my YouTube video to see how it works.


9   Hire An Excel Trainer

People hire a golf pro to help them with their swing so why not hire a personal Excel trainer? These days with software like Skype you don’t have to live in the same area.  If you want someone who can make you laugh try the always entertaining Oz du Soleil.


10   Are You Committed?

This is the most important part!  A committed person with limited material will learn more much more than someone who has unlimited resources but a limited commitment.


11   Ask Me!

I check my YouTube channel and email for ‘how to’ questions from my followers.  Ask me a question and I’ll try to create a video to explain the solution (please make sure your data is not confidential and try to explain your questions clearly). I do have a day job so I can’t promise to create it immediately but I try to create a video every weekend.

Have fun learning Excel !

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and learn more!

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