Excel is one of the best software packages out there. It can be used for doing simple things like creating lists or doing straightforward calculations through to automating processes and advanced calculations. There is something for everyone and it is one of those packages that anyone can learn, I know I’ve been teaching it at all levels for 19 years, although mainly do advanced courses and VBA (that’s the macros bit).
Recently I’ve had to start redoing manuals for Excel 2010 and whilst doing this you realise how good Excel is. It still does the same things but some bits have been enhance, for example the sort feature now allows you to sort on up to 64 fields, in the past it has been three.
However, the hard part now seems to be finding your way around as the menu has gone and been replaced by the ribbon, this was actually done in Excel 2007 (they have made some refinements to the 2007 version). Basically everything is there but with the ribbon they have brought most of the functionality out so it is easier to see.
Using functions are the same and can be found in the Formulas tab, they have also made each category a button. But once you find the function the rest is the same.
Looking at functions it reminds me that I cannot emphasize enough how useful they are, aside from SUM, AVERAGE, COUNT, MAX and MIN two that are very powerful and allow Excel to make decision based on criteria you set are the IF Functions and the lookup functions like VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP. These allow you to do things such as if you have a group of students and you have their scores by using the IF or lookup functions you can get it to work out if they have passed or failed and what their grade is. It can also be used for calculating tax where there are different bands, for example, you can say if they earn under a certain amount there is 25% tax to pay and if over that amount 40%. Excel will give you the answer consistently and every time those values change it can calculate the answer differently.
You can see these functions in action by going to www.jargonfreehelp.com/excel.asp (opens in a new window)
From this point of view once you have these functions set up it will save you a lot of time and you will find them quite easy to use. Start with something simple. I many instances I have seen people start with something simple and go on to build more involved functions. I also hear people saying they wished they’d have known about these sooner and end up going back and using these in spreadsheets they have used for many years.
Don’t overlook the IF and lookup functions they are used widely and there are many instances where they could have been used but were not considered as the person using the spreadsheet did not know about it.
Don’t forget the video clips and if there are any you would like me to do drop me a line via the contact page on the Jargon Free Help website.