Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet program is one of the most powerful tools in any Internet entrepreneur’s toolbox. Wading through Excel’s many features to find the ones you really need is both time consuming and frustrating.

In a recent blog posting on SearchEngineLand.com titled, Five Excel Skills Every Marketer Should Know, blogger Annie Cushing narrowed down the field considerably. Here are Cushing’s five skills you need to know for getting the most out of the powerful, but vexing, spreadsheet program.

Table Formatting

Raw data dumps are tough to look at and extracting useful information from them is even tougher. If you can master the basics of table formatting, your data will become a lot easier to digest.

Table formatting turns unsightly data from .CSV files into a flowing visual format that’s easy on the eyes and won’t induce headaches. Beyond making data look good, table formats allow for plenty of advanced search options that are tough to implement in standard spreadsheets.

For more information table formatting, check out 10 Advanced Formatting Tricks for Excel.

Charting

Excel charts are like blues riffs on the guitar; easy to learn but tough to master. Spending a bit of time experimenting with the various chart formats on Excel is a good use of your time. You might be surprised to learn that some of those more exotic charting options are actually pretty useful.

For more on charting, check out Microsoft’s own charting tutorial.

Pivot Tables

Pivot Tables are incredibly useful, but sort of tough to put your head around. The simplest definition of one is that it’s a table-within-a-table that provides specific data that’s used for really big data sets.

When you’re using pivot tables, the information you need the most is right at your fingertips no matter where you look on the spreadsheet.

For more information on pivot tables check out How to Manage Big Data with Pivot Tables.

Functions

Most of us can handle a couple basic Excel formulas, but adding up columns of numbers is just the beginning. When you start digging into formulas, you’ll be amazed at what Excel is capable of calculating.

Don’t let the Enigma-like strings of letters and numbers intimidate you, Excel formulas are actually pretty straightforward and easy to learn.

Learn 10 Excel formulas that go well beyond “Sum.”

Advanced Filter

Excel is a close cousin to Microsoft’s beefy Access database program, but is a whole lot easier to use…if you can master advanced filtering. Advanced filtering allow you to break out very specific subsets from your data for further analysis.

In short, it’s a function that turns spreadsheets into databases.

For more on Advanced Filtering, check out this tutorial from Contextures.com.

If you can get a handle on these five, basic Excel skills, you’ll be well set for wrangling the most out of your own data sets.

What’s your mastery of these crucial Excel skills? Share your experiences in the comments section below.


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