Microsoft Excel Skills: A Checklist to Hire Your Excel Expert

Excel skills

Microsoft Excel Skills: A Checklist to Hire Your Excel Expert

Rochelle van Rensburg | Nov, 2 2020

Microsoft Excel: A Comprehensive Microsoft Excel Skills Checklist


According to a study conducted, 80 percent of job openings require word-processing and spreadsheet software skills. Excel is one of the most used tools in many industries and it assists you to manipulate and organize huge amounts of data which can be difficult to organize and time consuming. You will speed up your career and improve your chances of securing a job by learning to use Excel efficiently.

Let’s have a look at some Excel skills and what each of them involves:

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Excel data input

Microsoft Excel Data Input- Spreadsheets are very useful for sorting large amounts of information. For example, If you have a list of 500 names, Excel makes it easy to sort through your list and arrange everything into an easy and clean spreadsheet.

Must Read: The Difference Between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel


Keyboard shortcuts

There are a variety and number of keyboard shortcuts available for Microsoft Excel you can use to make things more convenient and speed up your work. The list is quite long, so it may be a good idea to print it and keep it close when working on your document.

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Formatting of cells

You can format cells individually in your worksheet allowing you to change things like cell color, borders, cell margins, etc. Excel provides tools to make the process of formatting quick and easy.

Microsoft Excel tutorial for advanced users  Excel 365 – Advanced Course 


Cell references

A cell reference refers to a cell or a range of cells on a spreadsheet that can be used in a formula enabling Excel to find the values or data that you want that formula to calculate. You can use a cell reference in one or several formulas to refer to data on other worksheets in the same workbook, data from one or more cells on the worksheet, and data contained in different areas of a worksheet.

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Excel dates and times

Excel stores dates and times as a number representing the number of days since 1900-Jan-0, plus a fractional portion of a 24 hour day. This is called a serial date or serial date-time.

Must Read: Why Improving Your Microsoft Office Skills Are Important in the Workplace


Converting Between Excel Data Types

The data type in Excel can be changed. Select the field or column you want to change. On the fields tab in the Properties group, click the arrow in the drop-down list next to the Data type and select a data type and then save your changes.


Excel view options

There are four types of Excel workbook views – Page break preview, Normal, Custom view, and Page layout.

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The subtotal function is designed for columns of data or vertical ranges and not for rows of horizontal ranges. It ignores any rows that are not included in the result of a filter and is a built-in function categorized as a Math/Trig function.



This function creates a shortcut that jumps to a file or an Internet address. It is a built-in function in Excel that serves as a Reference/Lookup function.


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Microsoft Excel Filtering- Also known as Excel Autofilter, this feature allows only specific data to be displayed. It is especially helpful when you need to focus on specific information in a large table or dataset. Filtering doesn’t modify or remove data; it just changes which records appear on your screen.


Password protection

Microsoft Excel Password protection is a security feature that involves a user-protected password to protect your MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint documents. Microsoft Office 2007 uses modern encryption, making the security very effective.

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Saving an Excel document to PDF

You may wish to save an Excel document as a PDF file instead of a spreadsheet, if you for instance don’t want editable. Converting it can be a bit tricky, but many online tutorials are available to guide you through the process.


Advanced Excel skills and formulas

Microsoft Excel Advanced Skills and Formulas- The following are a few Excel skills that will qualify you as an advanced Excel user:

Excel Worksheets, ToolBars, Advanced Charting, Advanced Formulae, Functions, INDEX + MATCH, VLOOKUP, Data Tables, Simulations & Solver, Conditional Formatting, VBA & Macros, and PIVOT Tables & PIVOT Reporting. Let’s look at some of these in more detail:


Power Query, Tables and Formatting

Power Query is a tool available in Excel that allows you to import data from many different sources and to transform, clean, and reshape your data as required. It can import and clean millions of rows into the data model for analysis.
Formatted tables have advantages; for example, filter icons are automatically added to the header row, the headers are always visible as you scroll down the table and the table range automatically expands (including the format) when you add new columns or rows to the table.


Conditional formatting

This feature allows you to apply specific formatting to cells that require certain criteria. It is most commonly used as color-based formatting to emphasize, highlight, or differentiate information and data stored in a spreadsheet.

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Advanced charting

This chart goes beyond the basic charts created by Excel. If you, for example, have more than one set of data that you need to compare on the same chart, you can create your basic chart with one set of data, add more datasets to it and also apply other items.


Pivot Tables and Pivot Reporting

A Pivot Table is a tool to summarize, reorganize, count, sort, group, total, or average large amounts of data stored in a table. It allows you to transform rows into columns and columns into rows to present reports in a user-friendly way.


VBA Macros

Also known as the Visual Basic Application, VBA Macros are used to create custom user-generated functions and create automated processes by speeding up manual tasks.
It can also be used to access the Windows Application Programming Interface (API).


Data Tables, Simulation and Solver

Data Table is a function that is useful in simple what-if questions, variance-and sensitivity analysis, and even Monte Carlo (Stochastic analysis of real-life within Excel).

A simulation is an imitation of a process or situation. Excel remains one of the most commonly used tools to run simulations and create data models.
Solver is an add-in program used for what-if analysis. You can use it to find an optimal value for a formula in one cell subject to limits or constraints on other formula cells’ values on a worksheet.


Using Excel productively

Chances are very good that you are working harder than you need to if you do not use Microsoft Excel in your business. Some of the most common uses of Excel that allows a company to be more productive are:

  • Forecasting and Budgeting.
  • Labor Scheduling.
  • Sales Tracking.
  • Financial Analysis and Financial Reporting.
  • Accounting.


Integrating Excel with other tools

Excel can be optimized by integrating it with other Microsoft office tools such as MS Access which is a database management system and MS Word – a word processing system. Each has its own strengths, but if you integrate them you gain benefits from all of them.

Related Article: Why Should You Learn Microsoft Office? Here Are 6 Benefits 


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Microsoft Excel core skills checklist

Let’s look at the Microsoft Excel skills list in categories starting with beginner and then moving on to intermediary, advanced, and extra advanced.


  • Create a new document and save it.
  • Copy and paste.
  • Opening an existing document.
  • Entering, editing, and aligning data.
  • Selecting and deleting from a cell range.
  • Print Preview and printing on one page.
  • Headers and Footers.
  • Adjusting rows and columns and page orientation.

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  • Checking spelling and changing cell shading.
  • Using Go to and Find and Replace.
  • Adding and deleting rows and columns.
  • Insert a page break and Undo.
  • Renaming and deleting worksheets.
  • Adding and moving between worksheets.
  • Creating simple formulae and freezing cells.
  • Change number display and Centre over columns.

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  • Copying and editing a formula.
  • Creating a Chart and changing the Chart Type.
  • Naming a range and Sorting a Cell Range.
  • Linking and Filtering Data.
  • Macros and Linking Workbooks.
  • Creating a scenario and using the Function Wizard to create Formula.

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Extra advanced

  • The IF and VLOOKUP functions
  • Sub-grouping Columns or Rows and pasting Sheets or Charts into Word.
  • Advanced orientation of text in cells and moving and copying Sheets.
  • Useful functions such as SUM, COUNT and COUNTIF.
  • Protecting cells and worksheets from changes.
  • Paste Special and using Fill and Series.
  • Date calculations and Locking row or column references when pasting formula.

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Microsoft Office Excel is an essential tool in the workplace which everyone should familiarize themselves with if they want to work more effectively and productively. It will also help to secure a job and accelerate your career.

Coggno has a wide range of Microsoft Office Excel-related online corporate training courses.


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