Once upon a time there was VisiCalc on Apple IIs and before that there was nothing – how did we manage I wonder? Then there was Lotus 1-2-3 at the same time as the IBM PC. A spreadsheet program as we now know them, one that worked and it was programmable too! With first mover advantage it took us by storm. But then Microsoft invented Windows, bought Works and Multiplan and merged them for Windows and voila! – We had Excel.

Only 10% of Excel is used

And now there is only Excel – but it does everything! We really never use more than 10% of what you can do with it and that is even before we stretch ourselves into programming in VBA. Having nailed down all the calculation parts early on, modern versions of Excel are bent on improving the presentation of the results, based on the old adages that presentation is nine tenths of the battle and a picture is worth a thousand words (or numbers!).

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Modern Excel has also got a lot cleverer at getting data out of various data sources too, from databases to text files and all the modern ERP system, SAP, the MS Dynamics range naturally and many others. If you have any problems here it won’t be in what Excel can do, it will be whether the IT department lets you have access to ‘their’ precious data!

Step up your game!

There are three areas to get a grip on at this stage if you want to start getting serious with Excel:

  • Get to know your formulae. Seriously. The ’help’ function is excellent. Type in a formula, click on ’fx’ in the formula bar or F1 and Excel will give you a clear run down on what it does and how to do it.
  • Understand cell formatting. <Ctrl> 1 or <Alt> O E and you have a vast array of options to present your data cell by cell. Text, dates, numbers and currencies need hold no more fears for you. Play, play, play.
  • Tables and Pivot tables are all clever additions to modern Excel, but get good at the chart options, conditional formatting and sparklines. Show some artistic flair with not too much colour and your beautiful informative spreadsheets will be called Dashboards.

Improve your skills

If you’re interested in learning more about improving your Excel skills, please request more information.