MS Excel

Everything You Need to Know About MS Excel Basics

Microsoft (MS) Excel is known far and wide for being a versatile, unique and smart program that fulfils most data-based needs of almost all global businesses. MS Excel helps organisations collect, collate, compare and analyse a variety of structured and unstructured data sets in a quick, efficient and meaningful way. 

However, due to a lack of training in MS Excel basics, most organisations face issues of understanding, performance and implementation. Many of their employees end up spending far too much time on entering data and making calculations, decreasing productivity and efficiency.

Imparting elemental Excel training to their entire workforce can save businesses from hours of tedious, manual work. Moreover, a good grasp of MS Excel basics can reduce complexities, increase competence, and thus raise efficiency

Therefore, if you want to help your personnel learn different aspects of MS Excel basics, here are a few Excel tips and tricks to help you in your endeavour: 

Use Pivot Tables 

One of the first Excel tricks that you should first learn is the proper use of pivot tables. Pivot tables are a technique of data processing which summarise data sets in a relevant way. These tables collate statistics, sum up values, and compare data. 

To use pivot tables and strengthen your MS Excel basics, you can:

  • Go to the Data tab and click on the Pivot Table
  • The table will appear with prearranged data, whose order you can change
  • Choose what you’d like to do from the given options
  • You can filter data, label columns, label rows or enhance the value
  • Just drag the data to your preferred tab and click on it

Try Conditional Formatting 

As the name itself suggests, conditional formatting is MS Excel basic tip that can help you differentiate values, compare data, highlight pointers and change cell colours. With conditional formatting, you can easily identify specific data points and alter them as your wish. 

If you want to highlight a certain data value, you can: 

  • Go to the Home tab and click on Conditional formatting
  • Tap on ‘Highlight cell rules’ & select an option from the drop-down menu
  • Click on ‘Format only unique’ or ‘Format only duplicate’.
  • Select the ‘Format’ button
  • Change the border, font, colour, etc. and press ‘Ok’.

Make Data Comparisons 

Going through two spreadsheets to check for data errors can often prove to be an arduous task. For this, an MS Excel basic tip that you should learn during your Excel training is making detailed data comparisons, especially when the data is populated in two different spreadsheets. 

You can begin doing this by: 

  • Opening both Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 on the Excel workbook
  • Use Count IF (Sheet 1 (Row number) & Sheet 2 (Row number))
  • Press Enter and wait for the results
  • A comparison of both rows in both sheets would be made available
  • Use the same formula to compare data in other rows, cells or columns

Add Rows and Columns

When working with huge data sets, adding hundreds of rows and columns becomes an incredibly important need. If you set out to do this manually, it would take hours to merely add and populate one row! This is where learning a quick Excel trick can help. 

To implement this MS Excel basic technique, all you have to do is: 

  • Go to the spreadsheet in which you want to add rows/columns
  • Highlight the exact number or preexisting rows that you intend to add
  • If you want to add two columns, for example, highlight two existing ones
  • Right-click on the rows/columns and select ‘Insert.’
  • More rows or columns will be instantly added

Remove Duplicate Data 

Working with a large amount of data in hand can usually be quite tricky. There can be a lot of duplicate content to be identified and weeded out in the quickest possible way. To do this, learning a few MS Excel basics can be very handy. 

You will simply be required to: 

  • Highlight the row/column whose duplicates you intend to remove
  • Go to the ‘Data’ tab and select ‘Tools.’
  • Click on ‘Remove duplicates.’
  • A pop-up will appear, asking you to confirm the data in question
  • Once confirmed, the duplicates, if any, will automatically disappear

Perform Simple Calculations 

Those who have taken formal Excel training are well aware of the fact that MS Excel basics are a haven for performing complex mathematical calculations. These may range from integration and differentiation to averages and coefficient conversions. However, Excel can also be used for performing simple arithmetic computations. 

For these, you have to use easy formulas like:

  • + for addition
  • – for subtraction
  • * for multiplication
  • / for division
  • () for according priority to calculations

Use If/Then

In MS Excel basics, the Count IF function can help you count the total number of times a certain variable appears within a data set. But apart from this, ‘If’ can also be clubbed with ‘Then’ and used to insert multiple new variables! 

For example, if you want to write ‘5’ beside everyone named ‘Microsoft’, you can start by: 

  • Using If/Then formula as – If (Microsoft), Then (5)
  • Excel will immediately search for all names called ‘Microsoft.’
  • It will then insert the variable ‘5’ beside each name
  • For all other values which are not ‘Microsoft’, a ‘0’ would be inserted.

The VLOOKUP Function

The VLOOKUP function forms a highly significant part of MS Excel basics. It helps you compare and club data written on two different spreadsheets. This Excel tip works if the value of even one row/column amidst them is identical. 

For speedy usage of VLOOKUP, you can employ the following Excel trick

  • Use the formula – VLOOKUP (Lookup value, sheet, column number, range)
  • The lookup value pertains the exact value which is identical in both sheets
  • Insert the sheet and the column number to signify specificity
  • In the end, insert ‘False’ to ensure that only the exact values are pulled out

MS Excel Basic Made Easy 

In the contemporary business landscape, learning MS Excel basics is required for detailed insights, streamlining routine processes and optimising resource capacity. This makes MS Excel the most sought-after systemic choice of about 90% of businesses across the world.

Even in the future, MS Excel would remain the primary harbinger of technical skills and workforce value. Consequently, the viability and importance of learning MS Excel basics for grappling with real-world problems will continue to increase by leaps and bounds. In such a dynamic environment, merely relying on Excel tips will not be sufficient. This will further have to be backed by intensive Excel training

To brush up on MS Excel basics, join Shaw Academy‘s online Excel course. With its interactive, downloadable workbooks coupled with video dictionaries and bite-sized content, the academy will help you gain an instant working knowledge of MS Excel basics

Register here and get top-notch MS Excel training now!

Shaw Academy

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

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