Looking to freshen up in Microsoft Excel or learn it from scratch? Well, then you are in the right place. As we have previously noted, knowledge of Excel translates to higher salaries and there are many challenging yet high paying jobs that require heavy usage of Excel. Learning Excel is a huge business on the internet and we spent weeks sifting though the chaff to bring you the very best Excel resources from guru blog sites and tutorials to templates, add-ins, and online courses. It’s a doosey so make sure you have a strong cup of coffee before proceeding!
[Editor's Note: Throughout this piece we have tagged resources as PC or Mac and the edition of the software. For basic Excel use the standard functions are essentially the same. The major differences between Mac and PC are keyboard shortcuts. Thus for learning resources Mac users can still learn a lot from "PC" resources. Excel templates seem to have the most compatibility between versions but there may be minor issues between some versions. However, PC add-ins and apps will not work on Macs unless your Mac is also running windows.]
There are a handful of experts out there that are so good at Excel that they are recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valued Professional Certification. There are only 94 of these individuals worldwide. Many of them are doing some very advanced data analysis and programming in Excel, so we’ve highlighted ones with their own websites/blogs that are useful for begginners and intermediates.
- Purna “Chandoo” Duggirala runs Chandoo.org, an Excel tutorial site. It has a ton of free information for all levels of excel users, including a lot of great dashboards. Those who want to take it up a notch can purchase templates or enroll in a paid course.
- Bill “Mr. Excel” Jelen is the man behind MrExcel.com. Similar to Chandoo the Mr. Excel site has a lot of free how-to material as well as DVD tutorials for purchase. He runs an Excel book publishing company and co-publishes books on Excel with many of the other Excel MVP’s. He also has a podcast blog with excel tips that gets updated every month.
Intermediate & Up
- John Walkenbach runs the The Spreadsheet Page and has written many books on Excel. His is a good starting point for intermediate users of Excel.
- Debra Dalgleish is an MVP, author of three books on PivotTables, and operator of Contextures. It has some Excel tips for beginners but is another good blog for intermediate users of Excel.
- Charley Kyd is another prolific Excel guru. He runs the Excel User, a good starting point for intermediate excel users especially those interested in dashboards. The site is visually crowded with content, some of which is for sale, so make sure to go straight to the “Excel Help” section.
**For more information about these gurus check out our Learn Excel from Excel Experts article. For more information about gurus who specialized in advanced Excel and VBA check or summary of 40+ advanced Excel resources.
Free Excel Online Tutorials
There are a ton of online training and tutorials available on the web. A google search will return a whopping 17.5 million results and a Youtube search returns an impressive 146,000 videos. However, many of the websites are spammy content farms trying to bank on advertising and many of the good Youtube videos are hard to find.
Excel Tutorial Sites
- University of Reddit Excel 2010 (powered by Excel Exposure) is a good no frills Excel course. PC, 2010.
- Another no frills options is Excel Central which seems to be a pay site but stil has a fair amount of free videos, ebooks, and excel file downloads. PC, 2007/10.
- Many EDU sites have their own excel tutorials. There is a lot of either specialty content (for physics or business) and outdated content. We found some excel wiki’s from 1995! However, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business Excel wiki is top notch! PC, Multiple Editions.
- The Barnard Library site is another EDU site with good tutorial content. Mac 2011, PC 2010.
- ExcelTutorial.com, PC Multiple Editions.
General How-To Sites With Excel Good Content
- GCFLearnfree.org, PC, Multiple Editions.
- Free-Training-Tutorials.com. PC, 2007.
- Howcast’s How to Use Microsoft Excel. PC, 2010.
- The Mr. Excel Youtube Channel has an extensive series of Excel video content worth checking out. PC, 2007/10
- Microsoft’s Getting Started with Excel for Mac 2011. Mac, 2011.
- Basic tasks in the Excel Web App. Office 365.
**For even more free tutorials check out this of summary of 40 free Excel tutorials.
Excel Reference, Tips, & Recommendations
Similar to tutorials there is a bounty of sites offering excel “how-to” content, so much to the point that it can be overwhelming. Here are a few of our favorites.
Excel Reference Guides
- Excel Function Dictionary. Mac/PC, Multiple Editions.
- Excel Easy is a simple excel reference worth checking out. PC, Multiple Editions
- Exceljet is the goto place to learn about keyboard shortcuts. Mac/PC, Multiple Editions.
Excel Tips & Recommendations
- Allan Wyatts Excel Tips (subsite of Tips.net). PC, 2007.
- ExcelTip.com. PC, 2007.
- “Work Faster in Excel” from TechHive.
- “5 Excel Nightmares and How To Fix Them” from PC World.
- “Use Microsoft Excel for Everything” from PC World.
- The Excel Tip of the Month blog is from Isaac Gottlieb, professor and author. It provides many great examples of Excel in action. As of September 2012 this has moved to the Temple Fox School of Business website, PC/Mac, Multiple Editions.
- Practical applications of Excel from AccountingWEB. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Microsoft’s Excel Blog. PC/Mac, Multiple Editions.
- Excel Support from Microsoft. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Excel for Mac Support. Mac, Multiple Editions.
- Excel Keyboard Shortcuts from Microsoft. PC, 2013.
- Common Functions from Microsoft. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Office 365 Infographic. No how-to but contains detailed features information.
- “A Look At Microsoft Office 365: Excel” review from TechNorms.
- Get on the Excel Listserve
- Excel Google Group
- AllExperts has 25 Excel experts waiting to answer your questions, including 3 Excel MVP’s and the author of Excel for Dummies.
**For even more free tutorials check out this summary of 40 free Excel tutorials.
Best Excel Templates
A lot of the grunt work in Excel is coming up with a template that can be reused over and over again. Thankfully, there are many fancy looking and highly function excel templates available online for free. On the high end of templates are dashboards which take your data and push them into cool looking charts and gauges that help measure progress.
- Personal Budget. PC, 2003.
- Home Loan Comparison. PC, 2013.
- Mutual Fund Tracker. PC, 2003.
- Investment Portfolio. PC, 2013
- Portfolio Slicer – a special custom portfoliok workbook with special scripts that constantly updates stock prices. PC, 2010.
- Simple Invoice. PC, 2007.
- Balance Sheet. PC 2013.
- Regional Sales Chart. PC, 2013.
- Project Planner. PC, 2007.
- Key Performance Indicator dashboard from Chandoo. PC, 2007.
- Marketing templates from Demand Centric. PC, 2010.
More Template Resources
- Templates for Mac from Microsoft. Mac, 2011.
- Even more templates are available from the Microsoft Template Store, Vertex42, Spreadsheet Zone, Mr. Dashboard, and Dashboard Spy.
**For even more free Excel templates check out this summary of 50+ free Excel templates.
[Editors Note: While templates are tagged for certain versions. Older templates work in the most current versions of Excel. Newer templates may not work as well in older versions of Excel. However, some 2013 templates were also spot checked in Mac 2011 and seem to work fine.]
Best Excel Add-ins
Excel out of the box is great, but there are many plug-ins that enhance the fuctionality of Excel and allow you to do more advanced data analysis and presentation.
Test Your Excel Skills
- Bookmark your favorite workbooks. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Add-in Manager. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Simple and easy emailing from Excel with RDBMail. (Mac version available), 2007 and later editions.
- One of the classic add-ins for Excel is the Analysis Toolpak. Mac/PC, Multiple Editions.
- The PowerPivot turns excel into a business intelligence tool. PC, 2010/13.
- Data Explorer is the newest data analysis tool and the preview is now available for download. PC, 2013.
- Excel Model Creator. PC, 2013.
- Mr. Excel’s Easy-XL data analysis and manipulation tool kit ($89, free trial available). PC, 2010.
- Make some cool visual maps with the Heat Map add-in. PC, 2013.
- Add a gauge display to your dashboard. PC, 2013.
- Display data bubbles with the Bubbles add-in. PC, 2013.
- Enter dates quicker with the Calendar entry add-in. PC, 2013.
- Get Federal Reserve data with the FRED add-in. PC/Mac, Multiple Editions.
Utilities & Productivity Tools
- AbleBits Utility Pack ($99, free trial available). PC, Multiple Editions.
- Macabus Productivity Tools ($9.95, freeware version available). PC, Multiple Editions.
- ASAP Utilities ($49, free trial available). PC, Multiple Editions.
- Free productivity tools from Tyrant Ventures. PC, 2013.
- Power Pack for Mac 2011.
- Show context related tweets with ExTweet. PC, 2013.
- Google Analytics add-in, PC, 2013.
- SEO Gadget has add-ins for the Adwords API, Mozscape API, and Link Categorization. PC, Multiple Editions.
- More SEO Tools for Excel. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Unit Converter. PC, 2013.
- Merriam Webster Dictionary. PC, 2013.
- Even more add-ins are available from the Microsfot App Store, Add-Ins.com ($), and OzGrids ($).
**For even more add-ins, check this summary of 50+ Excel add-ins.
Best Excel Apps
Apps are slightly different from add-ins in that they are more about integration with Excel and opposed to native plug-ins that become an extension of the product.
- Microsoft Excel Viewer allows you to view files without Excel loaded to your computer. PC, 2007.
- For iPad integration check out the following: Numbers ($9.99), Google Drive , and the Dropbox/CloudOn combo. External iOS Apps.
- Convert PDF’s to numeric data to Excel workbooks with Able2Extrac ($97, free trial available). PC/Mac Multiple Editions.
- Convert Excel to PDF without losing your hyperlinks with the Cogniview PDF Converter ($99.95, free trial available). PC, Multiple Editions.
- Excel Invoice Manager (Starts at $39). PC, Multiple Editions.
- Excel Tax Assistant (Personal Version $15.95). PC, Multiple Editions.
- Convert Excel file to an online relational database with Team Desk (Starts at $49/month).
- Build an online map with Excel data using Topoly ($20, lite version free).
- Create a Social Media Analytics Dashboard with Simply Measured (Enterprise version starts at $500/month, personal reports free).
Help Me! Apps
- Watch video tutorials with the GCFLearnfree.org app for iOS and Android. PC, 2010.
- Always forgetting keyboard shortcuts? Use Keyrocket ($29, free trial available) to get shortcut suggestions based on your actions. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Recover lost passwords with Password Lastic ($29.95). PC, Multiple Editions.
- Compare workbooks and find subtle differences with DiffEngineX (Starts at $55). PC, Multiple Editions.
Best Excel Books
Excel is a huge business, so it’s no surprise that there a lot of books on the subject in circulation. Excel MVP’s, Bill Jelen and John Walkenbach have written many of the books on this list. In fact, Bill Jelen has his own Excel book publishing company and has worked with many Excel experts on creating various excel specialty guides.
Excel Reference Books
- Excel 2013 Bible ($27.77) by John Walkenbach (2010 and 2007 also available)
- Excel 2013 Charts & Graphs ($30.14) by Bill Jelen (2010 and 2007 also available)
- Excel Dashboards & Reports ($24.08) by Michael Alexander & Bill Jelen (2013 preorder)
- Excel 2013 Tips & Tricks ($19.89) by John Walkenbach (2010 and 2007 also available)
- Excel 2013 Pivot Table Data Crunching ($22.58) by Michael Alexander & Bill Jelen 2010 and 2007 also available)
- Slaying Excel Dragons ($20.06) by Michael Girvin & Bill Jelen, PC, 2010
- Office 2011 for Mac: The Missing Manual ($19.52) by Chris Grover (2008 edition)
- Modeling in Excel for Analysts & MBA’s’s ($69.15) by Isaac Gottlieb
- Excel University ($26.96) by Jeff Lenning (Accounting/Finance focus) PC, Multiple Editions
- Business Analysis: Microsoft Excel 2010 ($25.97) by Conrad Carlberg
- Statistical Analysis: Microsoft Excel 2010 ($23.88) by Conrad Carlberg
- Excel for Chemists ($43.98) by E. Joseph Billo, PC, Multiple Editions
- Excel for Scientists & Engineers ($50.67) by E. Joseph Billo, PC, Multiple Editions
- For even more books, check out the Amazon Best Seller list for Excel. Mac users should conduct a separate Amazon search for Excel for Mac.
Paid Excel Training
Theres no question there is a ton of free stuff out there to help you learn excel, but do you have what it takes to do all the leg work and learn it all on your own? If you don’t and prefer to have all of your excel training organized and served up to you in a neat looking package than you will be happy to know there are some solid paid courses that can give you exactly that.
- Our personal favorite is Excel With Business ($99 with special discount only available to Skilledup readers!). It is the “Cadillac” of online Excel courses. For starters, it uses adaptive testing to find out your Excel IQ and comes up with a custom curriculum tailored to your exact needs! It includes 100 hours of video, audio, and PDF content for all types of learners and has an extensive series of excel exercises that are embedded into Excel spreadsheets to help you enforce what you need to learn. It also covers Mac and PC versions of Excel starting from Excel 2003. Excel With Business can take someone with zero knowledge of Excel up to the level required for an Investment Banker. Check out our in-depth review for more details. Mac/PC, Multiple Editions.
- For someone who needs to know just the basics, check out Vodeclic (Starts at ($9.90/month, free trial available). It has about 20 hours of content which should give a good foundation. PC,2010/13.
- Udemy’s Excel 2010 Beginner and Advanced Excel courses ($99/course) are the courses that put Udemy on the map in the eLearning world. Over 60 thousand people have enrolled in these two classes. For those looking to get into VB Udemy also has a Visual Basic For Excel course. PC, 2010.
- Chandoo, the excel guru, also runs his own Excel School (Starts at $97) with focuses on dashboards, financial modeling, and project management. PC, Multiple Editions.
- Lynda.com (Starts at $25/month) the mother of online learning offers almost 50 different full length training courses as part of its monthly subscribption program. Mac/PC, Multiple Editions.
Courses Embedded into Excel Workbook
- Excel Everest ($39.99, free trial available) is a cool option where the whole course takes place in an Excel spreadsheet. Mac/PC, Multiple Editions.
- ExcelNow! ($49) is another neat option that embedded in Excel as a macro and installs a special tab for its learning content. PC, Multiple Editions.
**For more details about these online Excel courses check out our 8 Places To Learn Excel.
Best Places to Test Your Excel Knowledge
So you mastered Excel or at least you think you did! The missing link in learning a new subject online is being able to prove your mastery of the subject both to yourself and others. The following are places where you can test your skills.
The Official Microsoft Certification
- Certiport is the official test provider to get a Microsoft Excel Specialist certification ($120) from Microsoft.
- This test is not just limited to adults. In fact there is a student Excel Championship that was won by a 15 year old girl in 2011.
Just For Freelancers
- Plan on doing some freelance Excel work? Take a short ExpertRating test at Elance. Similar tests are available at oDesk, Guru, and Freelancer. (Free at Elance/Odesk, $5 at Guru/Freelancer)
Test & Share
- Smarterer is a new skill testing platform where you can take skills tests in different areas and share the results via email or social media. The test mechanism uses adaptive test taking techniques that can accurately assess skill levels within minutes. It also utilizes a huge bank of crowdsourced questions which prevents cheating.
Do It Yourself
- Excel certifications are not very popular nor are they highly valued among employers. If Excel is required for a job, it is highly likely your prospective employer will use a platform like Prove-it or EmployTest to test you when you least expect it, so your best bet is to know your Excel spreadsheet functions. A good way to do that is start making spreadsheets on your own. While you are doing that you can also create an online portfolio that you can show to prospective employers.
While Excel is primarily a business and analysis tool, there are actually people out there that are having fun in Excel besides data analysis geeks. There are some extremely creative people that have made games, animations, and art.
- ExcelGames.com has both educational (including a few Excel training games) and for fun games.
- Complex RPG in Excel
- More games in Excel including classics like Pac-Man and Super Mario!
- Crazy Illustration in Excel
- More Excel Art
- Excel Music Video
- The History of Microsoft Excel (not necessarily “fun” content but nevertheless an interesting story!)
For all you self-learners out there we hope you enjoyed our list. If you did please share with your friends. This list is a work-in-progress so please bookmark us and come back to visit every now again to see the latest and greatest developments with Microsoft Excel. For those who found this list overwhelming but still want to learn Excel, we suggest you check out our review for Excel With Business. They really do a great job organizing and presenting everything you need to know to land a job that requires using Excel on a daily basis. Whether you plan to go at it alone with the resources above or with an online course, we wish you the best of luck learning Excel!