Complete Guide to Basic Excel Training

Many people use Microsoft Excel at work. Some create formulas and build spreadsheets; others do data entry and print reports. Either way, Excel is an application that most people with office jobs are just expected to use.

But… what if you’re not proficient in Excel?

If your Excel knowledge isn’t up to scratch, you should invest in some basic Excel training so you’re comfortable performing simple tasks – especially if you list spreadsheet skills on your resume!

Basic Excel training will provide you with a solid foundation in spreadsheet fundamentals. All good introductory Excel courses cover:

  • Creating new workbooks
  • File management tasks
  • Data entry
  • Formulas and functions
  • Formatting
  • Page layout and printing

Being knowledgeable about spreadsheets in general and Excel in particular is entirely worthwhile in today’s competitive job market.

Basic Excel Training Checklist

There are many ways to develop basic Excel skills. You can attend a live instructor-led course, there are eLearning options available, you can watch YouTube videos, or you can go the “old school” route and read books.

Laptop and coffee on a wooden desk

The bottom line is, if you’re committed to learning about Microsoft Excel, there are many ways to do it.

To assist you on your quest for Excel knowledge, I have created a checklist. I have broken down all of the skills that should be covered in a basic Excel course. Choose the training option that works best for you and use my list to stay focused.

Work on one basic skill at a time. Make sure you can apply what you’ve learned. Create your own practice files if you need to then move on to the next item on the list.

Here are the core topics that should be included in any basic Excel course, broken down into categories.

Creating New Workbooks

Participants should be able to create new Excel workbooks using the following methods.

  • Create a new blank workbook
  • Create a workbook using a template

File Management Tasks

Participants should be able to work with and locate Excel files.

  • Open Excel files
  • Save Excel files
  • Understand the difference between Save and Save As

Data Entry

Participants should be able to navigate in an Excel spreadsheet and enter information efficiently.

  • Locate commands on Excel’s Ribbon
  • Navigate using tab, enter, and arrow keys
  • Enter text and numbers in cells
  • Edit existing cells
  • Insert and delete rows and columns
  • Adjust row height and column width
  • Use cut, copy, and paste

Formulas and Functions

Participants should be able to perform calculations using various methods.


Participants should be able to format elements in an Excel worksheet.

  • Format text using various attributes
  • Format numbers
  • Format cells using borders and shading
  • Use Format Painter
  • Apply conditional formatting
  • Utilize the Freeze Panes and Split commands

Page Layout and Printing

Participants should be able to configure page layout options and print an Excel worksheet.

  • Configure options like margins, orientation, and paper size
  • Preview a worksheet
  • Print a worksheet

Best Excel Courses for Beginners

If proficiency in Excel is an asset in your current position – or one you aspire to – there are several training options available. Each basic Excel training offering has advantages along with a few things you should keep in mind.

Instructor providing basic Excel training

I find that most beginners prefer a structured course with clearly defined learning objectives, opportunities to ask questions if something doesn’t make sense, and high-quality reference material so they can go back and review difficult concepts later on.

With this in mind, here are my recommendations for the best Excel courses for beginners.

Basic Excel Training with a Live Instructor

We offer live, instructor-led Microsoft Excel training to government and private sector organizations throughout Canada and the US. If remote learning is your thing, we offer online training for Excel.

If you’re looking for basic Excel training, our Level 1 course is going to be the best fit.


Call me biased but I feel that instructor-led training offers several big advantages.

Because our courses are conducted live, I’m able to adapt my presentation to the group. If someone has a question, I can respond in real time.

In my experience, instructor-led courses tend to work better for anyone who needs the structure of a formal course.

Excel training has been my core business for close to two decades. I’ve thoroughly refined my presentation over time and can explain every concept in the courses I offer with ease.


Instructor-led training offers many advantages. It’s a very effective way to provide training to a group of participants but it’s not the lowest cost option. Most instructor-led courses also have minimum enrollment requirements. At, we need at least 3 participants to schedule a course.

Basic Excel Training on Udemy

I think the best Excel course on Udemy right now is Microsoft Excel – Excel from Beginner to Advanced. It contains 18 hours of instruction and it has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on reviews from over 230,000 people. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is!

Excel From Beginner to Advanced course on Udemy

The instructor is Kyle Pew. He is a certified Microsoft Office Specialist and presents every lesson in an engaging, conversational manner.

As the title of the course indicates, the content includes topics ranging from beginner to advanced but the material is organized into four sections:

  • Microsoft Excel 101 – An Introduction to Excel
  • Microsoft Excel 102 – Intermediate Level Excel
  • Microsoft Excel 103 – Advanced Level Excel
  • Master Microsoft Excel Macros and VBA in 6 Simple Projects

Completing the first section, Excel 101 will give you a solid understanding of the basics.

If you’re ambitious, I recommend starting with the introductory material then move on to the more advanced topics when you’re ready.


The two main advantages of online learning (or eLearning) are convenience and low cost. The notion that you can do the training whenever it’s convenient for you is appealing to anyone with a busy schedule. The fact that you can get high quality training at a substantially lower cost than traditional instructor-led courses is just icing on the cake!


Be forewarned! The convenience of learning on your own schedule doesn’t work well for everyone. If you don’t have the discipline to block off time on a regular basis to learn Excel, this option might not work for you.

Consistency is Key

No matter which method you choose, you’ll need to set aside time to learn about Microsoft Excel. With a little dedication and focus you’ll be an Excel wiz in no time.

Best wishes on your journey!

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.