Excel – the basics
If you are applying for an admin job in an office, one of the requirements might be a good working knowledge of Excel. If you don’t already know how to use this software, it can seem daunting, but in fact it’s relatively easy to learn, especially if you follow an approved training course in ITC skills.
Here are a few of the basics to give you an idea.
What is Excel?
Excel is an electronic spreadsheet application that comes attached to Microsoft’s Office software package. A spreadsheet (sometimes known as a worksheet) allows you to easily set out data, move it around and make calculations. The data is arranged in rows (going across) and columns (going down) on a grid.
When would Excel be used in the workplace?
A typical example would be to help you work out the costs of a project. With Excel, you can quickly and easily add up how much money you started with, how much was spent and how much was left. Or you can calculate profit by working out how much it cost to produce a product or service and how much it was sold for.
What devices can Excel be used on?
Excel can be used on a desktop computer (Apple or PC) or a laptop. You can also download an app for your tablet or mobile phone.
What are the benefits of using Excel?
Because Excel is an electronic document, once you have saved your data, you can easily go back to it to make changes.
The grid layout – with rows and columns – allows you to see all the information at a glance and to make calculations. For example, you won’t need to use a calculator to add up the numbers in a row or column, you simply click the relevant icon at the top of the spreadsheet.
It’s easy to reformat or rearrange your data and because you can see all the information in front of you, it helps you to analyse it and make more informed decisions.
Excel can even learn patterns of data that you input, for example if you are adding the same figure to multiple columns it will auto-complete the columns for you.
You can also create charts and graphs that help you to present the data in a professional way that you – and your colleagues or boss – will find easy to view and understand.
Sharing an Excel document
Once you have created a document, you can share it with others by email or Instant Message.
You can also share an Excel document using the cloud, by creating a link and sending it to your colleagues. When a member of the team clicks on the link they will automatically see the latest version and you can all work together on the document in real-time with Excel Online.
How can I try it out?
If you’d like to practice using Excel at home, you can take advantage of a free one-month trial by downloading Office 365 from Microsoft. You will get the first month free but will need to pay after that, so don’t forget to cancel if you don’t want to keep up the subscription.
If you don’t have Excel skills and would like to learn them, it’s a good idea to take a professional course. If you are already working in an office, your employer may be prepared to pay for this; after all, you are showing initiative and ambition by wanting to progress and offer your workplace a wider range of skills. There are also apprenticeships available in business administration and IT that will cover Excel as part of your learning.