Microsoft Excel. You probably did it as part of your computer training after high school because, well, everyone was doing it and they said you have learn just to be conversant with it. If this is the attitude you have towards excel, you need to drop it. Why? Excel is the most widely used and one of the most important software and data analytics tool in the world.

What makes excel a very important tool is that it can be used anywhere in any type of work including; in finance, for billing, analysis, inventory, data management, business tasks, complex calculations, goal progressions, salaries calculations, home and office budgeting, among others.

We live in an age of data overload. We are bombarded by large amounts of data every now and then.  Reading and accessing large amounts of data is one thing whereas visualizing, analyzing and deriving/extracting useful information from it is another.

Moreover, we live in a world where professionals are highly sought after. If you become a master in excel, you have an opportunity of becoming an Analytics Consultant which is a niche that hasn’t been fully explored yet. You can consider a career in Excel if you have the below traits;

  • Research Oriented
  • Analytical
  • Attentive to details
  • Good with calculations
  • Patient

Where do you start is probably the question you are asking now? Below are some key areas of Excel you can begin mastering as you move to becoming an Excel Master:

Basic Math Functions

You do not need to reach out to your calculator for basic math functions. Excel has a variety of mathematical functions. However, here are a few that you should begin to master:

  • ADDITION– Type “SUM=” in the cell you want to have the final answer then click on the cells that have the data you want to add together one by one, put the data in brackets and finally hit “ENTER” when you are done.
  • SUBTRACTION– Type the “=“in the cell you want your result, then click on the cell you want to subtract from and type “-“ then click the cell you want to subtract and hit “ENTER”
  • DIVISION– Type the “=” sign in the cell you want the result to appear, then click on the cell that has the number you want to divide and type “/” then click the cell that contains the number you want to divide by and finally press “ENTER”
  • MULTIPLICATION– Type the blank cell where you want the total to appear, click on the cell that contains the number you want to multiply and then type “*” then click on the cell that contains the number you want to multiply with and then type “ENTER”

Sorting our Data

Data comes in various forms and we may be faced with a situation where for instance you have a list of over 100 names of people along with data of where they live and their telephone/email addresses. In this case you may want to sort them out by alphabetical order.

In such a case,

– Highlight all the data on the spreadsheet by dragging the cursor across all the data

– Click on the “Data” tab

– Next, click the “sort” button under the tab

– You will get about 4 options including, first name, second name, city, address and you shall click on the one that favors you at the time

– Finally click “OK”

– Flash Filling

The top reasons why excel is used is to save time and one of the ways you can do so is by learning how to flash fill. Take for example a list of people’s names you want to assign email addresses to. Excel comes in handy because it ‘reads your mind’ once you do it on one cell. First ensure you have turned on ‘Flash Fill’ by going to “File” then Advanced and click on “Flash Fill”

You can also do it manually by clicking CTRL+ E or Clicking on Data then Flash Fill.

Paste Special

This is one of the most commonly used functions that is mistaken to be one of the simplest. But have you ever copied and pasted then realised you carried along all the formulas or values or comments you didn’t require? This can frustrate you. Now you can learn how to carry on only what you require.

Click on (CTRL+ C) then at the same time click on (CTRL + Alt +V) which will bring the Paste Special function and allow you to select the ones you want to keep. Alternatively, if you just want to paste values, you can type the shortcut (ALT+E+S+V).

Adding Multiple Rows

This is probably the simplest excel function. If you want to add multiple rows from another spreadsheet, just highlight the number of rows you want to add and right click then click insert where you want them placed.

The shortcut used here is CTRL+SHIFT+ “+” then toggle the “+” sign to add as many rows as you want.

These are just some of the basic functions you need to master as a newbie. This is important as you save the time you spend working on spreadsheets hence improving productivity and being able to complete assignments in time to get home early to bond with your family.