Excel Crash Course for Beginners

If you want to learn Excel but don't know where to begin, this Excel for beginners course is for you!

Excel is a program with thousands of features, which makes users nervous and overwhelmed. Knowing some fundamental Excel survival skills will make navigating the program much easier and less intimidating. This course will teach you practical skills that you can put to use right away, as well as principles to keep in mind when using Excel.

Because hands-on practice is the best way to master the fundamentals, this course includes lesson videos and handouts. You can work along by downloading the Excel files!

Course Overview

By the end of this course, you will understand how to use formulas, refer to cells, delegate work to Excel, and have a solid foundation for future Excel learning.

In this short overview, we discuss the learning objectives and provide a preview of the lessons.

Learning Objectives

  • Overall structure and organization of Excel
  • Excel terminology
  • Practical hands-on skills
  • Principles and good habits
  • 3 keys unlock the door to Excel

Note: the video controls enable you to play in full-screen, adjust playback speed and quality, and turn captions on or off. 

Lesson 1

Follow along with this lesson to learn about Excel's structure (including cells, rows, columns, and so on), the difference between stored and displayed values, and a solid understanding of basic Excel terminology.

Excel is used for a wide range of tasks. Excel is one of the most versatile and flexible applications available, capable of doing everything from analysis comparison to crochet pattern creation to game creation and more. However, all of those capabilities are what make it intimidating for new users.

Initially, the goal is almost always to simply get the work done. This is perfectly normal and acceptable when you're first starting out; however, it's important to learn early on that some routes are faster than others.

As you progress through the lessons, your goal will shift from simply doing the work to doing it efficiently.

Lesson 2

Do you understand the distinction between a function and a formula? The terms are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing! By the end of the video, you'll understand the distinction between the two and how they operate in Excel.


Excel is truly defined by its formulas.

They are a key component that provides users with numerous options and capabilities. While typing values directly into cells works in many cases, it is not the most efficient way to use Excel and limits the user in many ways. They also make it possible for your worksheets to adapt to future changes.

This lesson will teach you how to use formulas to delegate tasks to Excel rather than having to calculate or insert the values yourself.

Lesson 3

The primary goal of learning Excel is to perform work efficiently. This lesson will teach you how to use AutoSum, one of Excel's useful commands for speeding up addition, as well as how to easily format cells with the Format Painter.


Excel is jam-packed with features designed to help users. And, because users do so many different jobs, there are plenty of useful features to choose from!

Features enable users to make Excel work for them and increase their efficiency over time.


Lesson 4

After completing the previous lessons, you will have a solid understanding of Excel fundamentals. It's now time to put everything together! In this lesson, you'll use everything you've learned so far to create a restaurant check.

As you near the end of this course, there is one overlooked aspect of Excel learning that we should discuss!

Excel University student Linda mentioned it when asked about the difference between taking one of our courses vs. Googling for simple answers: "I have had situations where I tried looking for a better formula. You can find it online, but you do not actually understand what you are doing because you are blindly following the formula."

The main takeaway here is that in order to truly master Excel, you must understand the "why" and "how" things work.

As you complete the final project, you'll notice how much more confident you are now that you've gained a deeper understanding of Excel fundamentals!

What's Next?

Continue learning!  Excel is a big place 🙂

If you'd like to explore Excel is a systematic step-by-step way, I'd love to be your guide. Check out our Campus Pass, which includes on-demand lessons PLUS live Office Hours with me for support. If you are a CPA and would like to earn CPE credit, check out our CPE Pass instead.

Campus Pass

Subscription (Most Popular)

A Campus Pass provides access to our entire catalog of undergraduate and masters lessons. It includes live Office Hours with Q&A and full access to the Student Union. Extreme gamification ensures this is the most fun you can have learning Excel.

CPE Pass

Subscription (124 CPE)

A CPE Pass is similar to a Campus Pass but it offers 124 CPE. It is designed to deliver practical CPE that will help you get your work done faster and includes all of our undergraduate and masters lessons, plus live Office Hours with Q&A. CPE is earned after each lesson.

Free Resources

Articles & More

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The Passport takes you on an Excel Highlights tour, can you track your progress as you go.

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