In today's age, you might feel like you're a software or Office luddite if you neither know what Excel actually is, or how you can use it. Rather than shy away from this popular spreadsheet programme, you could look at some basic training so that you can be more confident when it comes to using Excel. A professional Excel course will equip you with just the skills you need.

Let's face it, almost every office has spreadsheet software, and if it doesn't, you can get steps ahead by getting an early jump on your Excel knowledge, especially if it's the latest version. So what can you expect from your first ever Excel training?

First of all, you'll need to look at the training format. If you've decided to go ahead and get trained using your own time and money, then you'll most likely learn in a public course, that is, one that takes place with a small amount of fellow Excel newbies at a set date, on the training premises. You may also try an e-learning course, done from home, where you can learn at your own pace and in your own time, with external support via email from the training company.

On the other hand, if you're going to be taking Excel training because it's either mandatory for you to know in your job role or you're being asked to by your employer, then it could take other forms, such as a roll-out, where everyone gets the training at their desk with help from a team of 'floorwalkers', or where groups of teams attend the training at once.

No matter what the venue or format, you're likely to have a similar introduction to Excel. The beginning will cover what Excel is actually used for. You may already know that it's "something to do with spreadsheets", but it can also be used for more complex tasks, from heavy-duty calculations and charts, right through to producing payroll printouts. You'll probably learn the most frequent ways in which you or your business will use the software, rather than a broad spectrum of what it can do, which could take forever!

Next you'll be trained on how Excel looks so you can familiarise yourself with the worksheets and workbooks, and get to know where the various controls and commands are. This may not be as daunting as you think, if you already use another piece of Office software then it will be integrated and look quite similar to what you're already used to. There are many help options within the program to point you in the right direction.

Next you'll learn basic formulas, which look difficult but are really no different than punching in numbers into a calculator, once you learn the different ways of creating them. The vast majority of formulas are very common - sums, percentages and so on - and it would take a more advanced course to learn the more complicated ones.

Then you'll probably have a go at creating your own formulas and then learn to interpret or display the data you have in various ways. Charts are a quick, easy way to do this - and if you get more advanced, you can move on to Pivot Tables and start to integrate your Excel handiwork into other programmes such as PowerPoint.

These are just a few examples of the basics that you can expect in Excel training. Doesn't sound too difficult, does it? You may even want to explore a more advanced course once you've got the confidence to start using basic elements of Excel. The more you put into it, the more you get out - just like the spreadsheets themselves.