Microsoft Excel

Learn Excel on Udemy FOR FREE!

Welcome to part 2 of my Insider’s Guide to Free Online Excel Training.

Being proficient in Microsoft Excel is a huge benefit for anyone working in an office. But what if you have very limited experience with spreadsheets?

You can take an online course and guess what… You can learn Excel on Udemy for free!

I know what some of you are thinking.

“Wait a minute… what is Udemy and how can they offer Excel training for free?”

Stick with me. I’m going to answer these questions and personally recommend the best free Excel courses on Udemy in 2021.

What Is Udemy?

On Udemy’s website, they proudly claim to be the leading global marketplace for learning and instruction. I think their description is accurate but I’m not a big fan of corporate speak.

Here’s how I would describe Udemy.

Udemy is a huge online learning portal aimed at professional adults and students. Founded in 2009, the site currently offers 155,000 courses in 65+ languages to over 40,000,000 learners. Best of all, you can take courses on a computer or mobile device from any location with an Internet connection.

Udemy is a large, global organization. They’ve been around for over 10 years, they’ve got a proven track record, and it’s a great place to learn Excel.

How Does Udemy Work?

Udemy is an online learning portal.

Udemy doesn’t create courses, they market courses created by instructors from around the world. Think of Udemy as a platform for learning that hosts content and performs payment processing on behalf of learning and development professionals.

Instructors create and upload courses to Udemy. Learners sign up for an account and select the courses they want to take. Then participants watch video lectures, complete exercises, take quizzes, and participate in discussions with instructors and other learners.

Here are the key elements Udemy uses to facilitate online learning.

Video, Audio, and Text Lectures

Udemy courses are built around “lectures”. As you can imagine, Excel courses utilize screen recordings to demonstrate various techniques, but you may find that some information is communicated with presentations, audio, and text.

Supplemental Materials

Many Excel courses on Udemy make practice files available for download. Instructors might also provide documents, PDFs, or other reference material.


The Q&A tab provides a way for participants to interact with the instructor and each other. This tab is essentially a private discussion board for the course.


The Notes tab provides a convenient location for learners to take notes. All notes are stored online with the course and can be used to review key concepts.


Instructors can post updates and links to additional content on the Announcements tab.


Downloadable certificates are provided at course completion.

Stylish man with glasses, grey hair, and a beard

Is Udemy Good for Learning Excel?

The most important metric when it comes to any training program is its effectiveness. Modern technology and slick delivery mean nothing if participants aren’t learning.

Is Udemy an effective way to learn Excel?

Udemy is a great platform for learning Excel. Participants watch video lectures, download practice files, and work at their own pace. The fact that learners are able to watch (and re-watch) lectures as many times as they need to make Udemy’s courses very convenient and highly effective.

As useful as the platform is, the onus is still on participants to set aside time for learning. Also, I can’t stress enough how important it is that participants complete all of the exercises. Participation boosts retention!

Why Are Some Udemy Courses Free?

Instructors on Udemy are allowed to charge whatever they feel their course is worth (to a maximum of $199 USD). They can also decide to offer a course for free.

Some instructors post free courses on Udemy covering basic topics to give people a chance to evaluate the course. Then, when a percentage of the learners are looking for a more in-depth or advanced course, they’ll be more receptive to a paid course from the same instructor.

Free courses also benefit Udemy as a platform because it gives people a chance to explore the online learning environment for free. Once a user signs up for an account, Udemy adds them to a mailing list and lets them know about other courses they might be interested in.

Course Features Compared: Paid vs Free

A few of the features that come standard with Udemy’s paid courses aren’t available with their free offerings. Here is a table that summarizes the most important differences.

Course FeaturesPaidFree
Online video contentYesYes
Certificate of completionYesNo
Instructor Q&AYesNo
Instructor direct messageYesNo

You get all of the course content with free courses on Udemy, you just don’t get a certificate of completion or any interaction with instructors or other participants. As long as you’re comfortable learning on your own, Udemy’s free courses offer incredible value.

What Is the Best Free Excel Course on Udemy in 2021?

The best free Excel course on Udemy is currently Useful Excel for Beginners. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars based on over 38,000 reviews.

Useful Excel for Beginners

The instructor is Dinesh Natarajan Mohan. He has been working with Excel for 20 years and currently has two courses on Udemy. One course is free, the other is a paid offering.

With 9.5 hours of video, spread out over 89 lectures, this is a very comprehensive course. It was created with the Excel beginner in mind and will give you a solid understanding of Excel’s main features.

Learning Objectives

Here are the topics covered in Useful Excel for Beginners.

  • Introduction
  • Basics of Excel
  • Entering Data
  • Formatting
  • Editing
  • Saving
  • Viewing
  • Calculations
  • Visualizing
  • Analyzing
  • Tables
  • Sharing
  • Final Thoughts

What I Like About the Course

Dinesh is a good instructor. He speaks using conversational tones and demonstrates concepts at a good pace.

As a training consultant with more years of experience than I care to admit, I can tell you that the topics in this course cover the vast majority of what you need to know to be proficient in Excel.

The examples used are appropriate for illustrating the concepts covered in the course and I like how the content is structured. Over the years, I have charged companies a lot of money to teach employees these exact concepts.

What You Should Keep in Mind

There are two things you should keep in mind, if you’re interested in taking this course.

First, Useful Excel for Beginners was created in 2013. All of the videos were recorded using Excel 2010. I don’t think this is a big deal because the interface for every version of Excel released since 2007 is very similar. Depending on which version you have, there may be minor differences in a command’s location but the core features in Excel will all be the same.

The second thing to keep in mind is that free courses on Udemy don’t offer the same features as their paid counterparts. There is no Q&A tab in a free course which means you can’t ask the instructor a question if you get stuck. You also don’t get a certificate upon course completion.

In my opinion, these limitations are minor. I think the opportunity to learn Excel for free on Udemy completely overshadows any small inconveniences you might encounter as you take this course.

How Can You Learn Excel Quickly?

If you don’t have a lot of time but you still want to expand your Excel knowledge, I have a bonus course recommendation for you.

Excel Quick Start Tutorial: 36 Minutes to Learn the Basics is a course you can complete during your lunch hour! It has an average rating of 4.6 stars based on over 17,000 reviews.

Excel Quick Start Tutorial

The instructor is Jeff Knowlton. Jeff is senior business executive, a data scientist, and a former university instructor with over 30 years of experience using Microsoft Excel. He currently has 5 courses on Udemy. If you enjoy his quick start tutorial, you may want to check out his paid course offerings.

Obviously, this course won’t go into the same level of detail as Useful Excel for Beginners but it will serve up some useful knowledge, if you only want to spend an hour learning about Microsoft Excel.

What’s Next?

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll definitely want to take a look at part 3 in the series: Learn Excel on Skillshare FOR FREE!

By Michael Belfry

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