Using Excel for not only regular calculations, but many other exceptional functions in finances, presentations, listings, analyses and more.

Addition, subtraction, multiplication; maybe a few financial equations. That might be it, right? Wrong! In the world of spreadsheet pieces of software, Excel, brought forward by Microsoft, sheds light to almost every potential aspect a student, merchant, business official, clerk or anyone handling data might have to encounter! 

Using Excel’s Expansive Tools, Learning Your Way Around the Spreadsheet Software is Nothing less than a Fort you are Willing to Conquer!

As a student of business administration, I believe being able to analyse data and interpret it for the entirety of a workplace is necessary. Developing understanding in trends and being able to extrapolate data to forecast future events are some basic operational skills a business graduate, a researcher needs to exhibit. To carry out all these functions with ease, Microsoft Excel can be a great, if not the greatest software out there, which can facilitate such activities. During the lockdown, I had managed myself the time to get enrolled in an online course that specializes in beginners to advanced Excel functionalities. The level to which Excel has expanded itself was amusing to learn, and as I progressed further down the course, I realized how much this software has to offer.

Rise of Excel, and Why it Eventually became a part of Everyday Calculation Essentials for Workplaces Everywhere

Released for Macintosh in 1985, Microsoft Excel 1 quickly gained popularity as a spreadsheet application and proceeded to other operating systems soon after. In 1987, it was introduced to the Microsoft operating system. The application is updated after approximately three years, the latest being released in 2019- ‘Microsoft Excel 2019’, the 17th edition till date. With every consecutive update, users are bemused with new facilities and a brand-new interface. The latest including new formats of chart representations, 3D visuals in workbooks etc. A slightly old version, that is of 2003, included workbooks that could carry worksheets consisting 65,536 rows and 256 columns where users were able to input raw data and represent them according to their wish or desired structure. But how many does the last edition have to offer? 1,048,567 rows and 16,384 columns! That should certainly suffice a lot of data!

Each block in a worksheet is denoted by an English alphabet that marks the column number and a numerical value that marks the row number. This provides a unique name to every unit of a worksheet in a workbook, where each unit can carry 255 characters. This provides an exceptionally large space for analysts to input data and carry out required calculations. Each formula, that is responsible to provide the expected result, starts with an ‘=’ that distinguishes it from text information. The quantity of formulae available to fit one’s purpose is ridiculous, and will most certainly give you the answer you demand IF the right formula is used. From validation formulae such as IF, IFERROR, IFNA which will eliminate specific unnecessary data from one’s huge stash to VLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH, ADDRESS which will locate and highlight data of your choice, Excel will essentially provide any functionality that you might wish your data to conform to.

Some other fascinating functions that many are not aware Excel is capable of performing includes CODE, CLEAN, TRIM and CONCATENATE. Just as the names suggest, these functions when used appropriately, terminates any double spaces, unnecessary characters that an user might input while shoving the heap of data in the worksheet. Moreover, these are also able to accumulate and join texts from all over the workbook, or several other workbooks if necessary, and provide consistent, accurate results in seconds. Becoming familiar with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), a dialect of Visual Basic, analysts or programmers can manipulate Excel to perform calculations that are generally deemed impossible. It can be used to keep worksheets up-to-date as more information is collected, and the sources can be linked to websites which may update as often as possible. This function might seem a bit tricky at first, but one of the easier ways to generate such codes is by using the function Macro Recorder in Excel. So many functions there are, but all it takes is a bit of a practise to locate them!

Applying Excel for Functions Beyond Basic Arithmetic, Diving into More Sophisticated Problems.

Accountancy can be boosted by some major functions of Excel that provide easily interpretable results. One such is the ‘What-if-Analysis’. Equipped with three outstanding tools; Goal Seek, Scenarios and Data Table; Excel can not only plot the best alternatives from a set of numerous variables that will provide the maximum revenue, but it also points out what adjustments need to made in terms of numerical values to yield greater/fewer of a variable as desired. Scenarios create excellent memorandums that visually appeal to the viewer which is extremely important while displaying calculations to co-workers or managers. The large number of layouts, charts and graphs available make graphical representation even more interesting; and there you have it! Raw, unresponsive data converted into visuals that can be comprehended, assimilated and extrapolated as necessary.

So much for a single application, right? Considering the extent to which Microsoft Excel can be used in a workplace, it has secured itself as a prime soft skill that many jobs require their employees to possess. Learning to use Excel will help develop better understanding about what type of data representation worksites expect, accelerate data processing and also add value to one’s resume. Accountants, managers, analysts, journalists and many other careers are expected to know the basic functions of MS Excel, hence exploring the software once in a while will only create value for a person. Well, there we have it. Although most of the functionalities of Excel have not been brought up or discussed in depth, all of these might seem overwhelming, which did to me too. But once the first step has been taken, learning to use Excel becomes a habit which challenges and enhances one’s cognitive abilities and helps to perform beyond  expectations.