There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed a desire to become a great writer. When asked to define "great" he said:

I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, wail, howl in pain, desperation, and anger!

He now works for Microsoft, writing Excel error messages.


The Three Stages of Excel Education

Students new to Excel start with the basics. They learn terminology such as the difference between a worksheet and a workbook. They pick up simple cell entry techniques from "=A1+B2/C3" to formulas such as MAX or AVERAGE. This is enough to allow new users to perform some simple tasks with Excel.

With some experience, students move onto an intermediate level. They share data among multiple workbooks, learn how to customize Excel's interface, and learn advanced charting techniques to make impressive graphs. This is a level at which users can perform a variety of financial and analytical functions which make Excel a more useful application.

Eventually many users move onto the most advanced functions such as PivotTables, Solver, and interactive spreadsheet web pages. Trying to learn these techniques without enrolling in an Excel advanced course is difficult. The functions are complicated and often the student becomes well acquainted with the work of the above-mentioned error message writer. Some give up in frustration, never unlocking these powerful tools.

Enroll in an Excel Advanced Course

Many users may be able to learn Excel at a basic or intermediate level without the use of an instructor, although self-learning is generally slower than formal training. Very few, however, can master the most complex Excel functions without help.

An Excel advanced course allows the user to focus on each of these features in a structured environment. The student learns the entire package at once, not just a piece here and a piece there. For example, by getting comprehensive training in list management the student is able to learn the features more quickly and use them more effectively.

Properly constructed spreadsheets means fewer of the dreaded Excel error messages, less frustration, and quicker workbook completion. If the student does get an error message, it is far more likely that an answer to the problem will be obvious. The student doesn't get lost in the confusing maze of help files.

The best way to get maximum benefit from an Excel advanced course is to have specific examples from your job. When a student brings a non-functioning PivotTable to class then the instructor has a real-world example to illustrate the concepts he is trying to teach. The student gets expert help and by the end of the course will have a functioning spreadsheet.

Even students who have picked up Excel on their own accord will benefit from taking a course to learn Excel's advanced tools.