Ah, Excel. This little piece of software is the unicorn of spreadsheets, and that’s why so many people want to learn it.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an office that doesn’t use Excel for one purpose or another, even as more sophisticated solutions hit the market.
Excel is prized for its perceived simplicity, but that is really a façade, as it is far more capable and complex than it appears.
Sure, filling in cells is a snap, as long as you use the right formatting.
However, failing to follow Excel’s rules can lead to panic, especially when seemingly innocuous input shifts into something unrecognizable after you finish with the field. Also, formulas can be tricky, and preparing spreadsheets for mail merge can be downright migraine-inducing.
Bring in ideas like conditional formatting and macros, and those who aren’t familiar with Excel might just throw up their hands in the air and run away screaming into the night.
And it’s not wrong to be intimidated by what Excel can do and the amount of complexity it can involve. Heck, even professionals at JP Morgan managed to mishandle data in a spreadsheet, and it cost the bank billions of dollars.
But there is a way to offset these risks and improve your comfort level; the good old standby, more education.
Now, before you roll your eyes and assume I’m recommending you go back to college, hear me out. You don’t have to attend formal classes at a university to get a grip on Excel. There are numerous free resources available that let you learn the program from the comfort of your home.
So, put on your favorite “Netflix and chill” outfit, grab a snack or a tasty beverage, and prepare to understand Excel like you never have before thanks to these 11 places where you can learn Microsoft Excel for free.
While the tech giant behind Excel doesn’t offer a free course, there is an array of tutorials available to help you learn it incrementally.
Topics include everything from how to add and format data to the creation of PivotTables to the dreaded macros and mail merges.
You can select the guides relevant to your current needs or explore them one at a time to get the full breadth of what Excel can do.
Some tutorials even have sections where you can try out the techniques yourself right in your browser, giving you hands-on time as you move forward.
One of the most comprehensive free resources out there, GFCLearnFree.org offers access to a staggering 29 tutorials and five extras.
You can learn Excel basics from creating and saving workbooks to conditional formatting and more.
The information is highly accessible, and you can even take a quiz at the end to see how much you’ve learned.
If you prefer seeing things done to reading instructions, Excel Exposure is a great option.
It covers an array of topics in key areas, and more free lessons are in the works.
Each larger section is broken down into easily digestible chunks, making even VBA less intimidating to those who want to learn Excel in its entirety.
If you want to “become awesome in Excel,” Chandoo is worth exploring.
You can start with the basics and advance to topics like circular references at your leisure.
Some of the more advanced features must be purchased, but you can go a long way here without spending a dime.
Excel Central is another site where the basics are free, and you can choose between four versions of the program to ensure you learn Excel in a way that gives you the most value.
According to Debra Dalgliesh, the site’s owner, Contextures has everything you need to “become an Excel Master.”
You can learn it using a variety of lessons, many of which include sample files and videos.
Tips are also available, giving those who’ve gotten the hang of the software some extra insight.
While Excel Hero targets those who already have a basic understanding of the program, it is still a great resource for beginners.
Hundreds of workbooks are available for download, including some that were produced for fun (like the collection of optical illusions).
This site mostly contains products that must be purchased, but the blog includes a variety of tips and tricks that can help you learn Excel. Additionally, free webinars are held often, helping you gain insight into featured topics.
Another source of free videos and webinars, Improve Your Excel has numerous offerings and introduces topics like Excel Power Query and the VLOOKUP function.
This site speaks directly to beginners, making it appropriate for people who have literally never opened an Excel spreadsheet in their life.
Each section also has sub-pages that let you access deeper detail on a topic, or move on to focus on what you need to learn and skip what you already know.
If you want a quick reference for keyboard shortcuts, Excel Jet has them, making it possible to operate the program almost entirely without a mouse.
These free resources make it easy to learn Microsoft Excel for free, helping you build in-demand skills on your own time.
This post was originally published in Inc.com.