I am puzzled by people who have been staring at spreadsheets for years without mastering Excel. That’s why in a long series of posts I will outline the essential Excel skills that I consider users should have. The techniques are the bare minimum. You need them for everyday use but they leave plenty of room for you to build upon.
What is covered?
Intentionally I will focus on “old-school” approaches and formulas. This means that I will try to avoid the recent developments in Excel that are likely to be available in Office 365 only or might have not been rolled out to all users yet. For example, even though nowadays I use almost exclusively the =XLOOKUP() formula, I would not list it. Couple of reasons why:
- Understanding the “old” formulas like =VLOOKUP() and =HLOOKUP() is a good foundation and will make transitioning to anything more sophisticated less challenging;
- It is much more likely for you to encounter a long-standing formula. Given the rate at which people (do not) acquire new Excel skills, I bet this will be the case for years to come.
Further, I will not cover techniques that have existed for some time but have not gained wide popularity (eg. VBA & Power Query). This doesn’t mean I don’t consider them valuable — they have many users that put them to good use. However, I don’t consider such approaches part of the Excel essentials.