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Basic use of Excel for Individuals and by Businesses

Thank you for enrolling for this course! Whether you are new to computers, or just new to Excel, we trust that your first ‘Excel-steps’ with us will be rewarding. While this course is designed so that someone without access to Excel can be exposed to Excel and see the basic practical application, those with access to Excel are encouraged to complete and practice the tasks mentioned in the readings. This will enhance your understanding of practical aspects of this course. Also pay close attention to the formulas mentioned as the formulas will often be included in the multiple choice questions at the end of the readings. Let’s start with explaining where Excel fits in with the host of other programs and applications you find on computers.

A computer consists of the physical hardware you can touch and many applications that carry out various tasks. These programs are classified based on the utilities they provide and the tasks they execute, such as word processing, spreadsheets and utility related tasks. Microsoft Excel comes as part of the Microsoft Office suite and Excel can be used for both simple and advanced numerical and non-numeric applications on spreadsheets. Excel is a very powerful tool that can be utilized for business purposes or for managing personal data.

In this course we will specifically showcase Excel’s usefulness for tracking personal finances - such as setting up a monthly budget by tabulating your expenses and calculating your expenditure.

Excel in business

Businesses use Excel as a powerful tool for data capturing, data analysis and manipulation, record keeping, planning and modelling. With Excel as a data tool you can do anything from simple record keeping through to creating invoices and building large-scale financial models with pop-up interfaces. Using Excel for these functions enhances business operations in several ways. For example, administrative tasks are carried out efficiently by using the software to create electronic invoices that can capture customer details and automatically calculate amount due for payment. Some businesses use Excel to create automated forms for conducting surveys, where the form will consist of automatic populated fields with a choice of answers. Businesses therefore put more emphasis on acquiring these important skills as they are valuable in helping you fulfil your daily duties.

Excel skills and job opportunities

Your knowledge in Excel is essential in today’s competitive market. Employers usually stress the importance of equipping administrative professionals with technical skills in Excel to manage various business activities. People who are proficient in Excel are marketable because they can efficiently and effectively complete work-related tasks with the help of Excel. Furthermore, possessing Excel skills opens up career opportunities as it allows you to carry out important tasks from enhancing simple business operations such as booking of financials of a small to medium business to running dashboard analysis and reports to big organization. It is therefore important to learn about the basic and advanced capabilities of Excel and to periodically keep yourself up to date with knowledge and skills of these type of software, because it helps you fulfil your work duties.

This chapter will give you an overview to Excel and its basic use features.

Excel is a spreadsheet program that allows you to store, organize, and analyse information. It is thought by many that Excel is only used by certain people to process complicated data. This is not true, if you keep a budget, organise a register, or create an invoice you can use Excel.