Excel Beginner’s Guide: Introduction to Excel – Lesson 1

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Excel is a necessity of every office now. And since its first version we all have reasons to love it more every year and for the same reasons almost everyone (engineers, managers, medical reps, mathematicians, accountants and the list is really long) needs to be acquainted with Excel.

However, Excel’s interface isn’t as simple as other applications like Word or Powerpoint and that causes a lot to repel and not to open this otherworldly software again. The interface with things called cells that are extended far beyond to the right and endless bottom, daunting creatures named formula and then charts are just too much to comprehend.

But this hesitation is there only until you can get a grip of basic Excel knowledge and its functionality and we tend to find Excel overwhelming because we tend to look at everything it offers and does.

For me Excel help you do THREE main functions:

  1. Record: maintaining the records or data or information in one ‘box’ (technically called cell). With thousands of cells at your disposal, each cell is a definitive location to store your data. Data can be in the form of text, number, symbols or a mix of these. Understanding the very purpose of cell in Excel and why they are arranged in particular fashion and how this arrangement help us achieve awesome results is a key to excel at Excel.
  2. Compute: having the data or information recorded what good is it doing if you can’t use it to deduce, analyse and compute certain aspects. The simplest example one can think of is to perform mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We as a human are intelligent enough to make computations keeping information in our memory alone. For example if you have to add the price of two products you can do that easily with little brain activity. But what if you have to compute how inflation has affected prices of household products? Well I am not sure about you… but I am sure about myself that my brain cells can’t hold this much stress and I will resort to Excel. This is where Excel’s inbuilt tools especially formulas proves great help.
  3. Summarize: The ones making decisions don’t have time or nerves to first memorize records and then compute and then make decisions. If we only record and compute then managers and decision makers will find it hard to consume. Information has to be in the form that makes decision process efficient. Excel’s tools like conditional formatting, tables, pivot tables, charts help prepare reports that can be simple comparison charts or awesome dashboard reports.

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