Symon He

Microsoft Excel is a software program that was engineered in 1984. Created by the technology company Microsoft Corporation, it is based on other foundational spreadsheet programs. It became an integral part of the Microsoft group of programs called Microsoft Office Suite. Excel is a spreadsheet program that organizes data, allowing for data storage and analysis. It lays data out in cells that are stored in rows and columns creating a table of easily accessible information. Just about anyone who wants to work in a professional setting should include Excel as part of their office repertoire.

Data Analysis Essentials Using Excel

Last Updated December 2020

  • 130 lectures
  • Beginner Level
4.5 (9,854)

Learn to apply the important concepts and techniques of data analysis using Excel. | By Symon He, Travis Chow

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Excel originally only worked on Apple OS until 1987, when it became usable with Microsoft Windows as well. MS Excel is known for its versatility and power, which makes it one of the most used software programs in the business. The functionality of an Excel spreadsheet makes it an easily-understood program. Excel lets a user input and manipulate data and then do a thorough analysis of that data. And for those who really want to push the limits of Excel, they could extend the functionality of Excel through programming using Visual Basic.

Although it could take years to discover and master all of the Excel functionalities, anyone could master the Excel basics in a matter of days. You could learn to confidently use the most commonly used functions and formulas as well as keyboard shortcuts.  

Why should I learn Excel?

Just some of what Excel can accomplish:


Rather than having to run the same calculations repetitively, you can program formulas that are used regularly. Enter the digits into a cell that has an Excel formula and you get an answer without having to do the calculations manually.


Microsoft designed Excel to meet accounting needs. It can be used for budgeting, forecasting, expense tracking, financial reports, loan calculations, and more on a cell range, column, or row. It also offers spreadsheet templates to make accounting processes easier.


Excel allows a user to present data in a clear visual and understandable way. It can change rows and columns into charts for ease of presentation and comprehension. Not everyone needs each snippet of data for a thorough picture, so a chart is a perfect way to transmit the data in a user-friendly way.


This software can track almost any type of inventory, through human resources, production, or manufacturing. Keeping track of office or production items is easy with Excel. You can save more than one spreadsheet in a single Excel document by saving it as a workbook and having an inventory database.


While many use Excel as data software, it can also map out calendars and schedules. This is useful for teachers, project managers, and team leaders, for example. This software can also make templates for road mapping and daily schedules.


Those with more advanced knowledge of Excel can use it to design products. They use it for mock-ups, prototypes, and product planning. Some even use it for creating wireframes and dashboards.

Specialized charts

While Excel is top of the line for creating charts, it can be specifically used to do project management charts. Waterfall charts can be created to keep a team’s progress on track, while Kanban-style boards can work for team progress and organization.

Time logs

Logging time is important to a team leader and for productivity. Excel is one of the original apps that can do this to make sure goals are being met.


Excel is a great option for creating online forms. Being able to program drop-down menus of a pre-set list helps users make choices. Being able to transfer data from the forms to Excel makes data gathering easier and offers data analysis with fewer steps.

Keeping in touch

Data is not always about numbers and their analysis. Excel can also manage and sort databases of customer details. This can help with tracing relevant consumer information, sending mass notices, and providing updates. The ability to sort and format this data can help target specific markets with marketing notices as needed.


When you work beyond the basic functions of Excel, users will be dealing with models that have many variables, formulas, and functions. Rather than trying to manage them all on different spreadsheets and workbooks, they can be put into a control panel. They are likened to the dashboard that you would find in the cockpit of a plane.

Dashboards are newer but are not complicated. If there is something that you want to alter later, do not build it into a formula, but attach it to a variable. A good example is creating a sales report. If you want the file to be able to change from Canadian Dollars to US currency at certain times, you can bind it to a cell that can be adjusted later, rather than writing it into the formula.

Fetching Data 

Excel allows you to adapt to newer technology. If you need updated files from a live data source, you can connect Excel to a data feed. You can fetch stock updates, sports scores, conversion rates, flight data, banking information, and more. This ability is important as more data is kept on cloud systems. Web integration has become an important component of Excel.

Grow personally and professionally

Asking what is Excel will get you a wide range of answers. It is a program that can do the most basic of mathematical tasks along with the most complex data analysis. There are other spreadsheet programs on the market, but few, if any, will match Excel’s trusted history and performance ability. Excel is reliable and well-known to both old school businesses and start-ups. It has adapted with the times and continues to build its brand with each new version that is released.

Excel is a software program that allows you to go from beginner to expert in very little time. It is a great learning investment that will push you to grow both personally and professionally. 

Page Last Updated: October 2020

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