HomeBlog7 Excel Tricks to Make You a Power User

7 Excel Tricks to Make You a Power User

Author: Larry Kim
Last Updated: December 2, 2021 | Marketing Ideas

What does it take to succeed in business today? Increasingly, one of the most important skills you can have is digital literacy.

According to Cornell University, digital literacy is defined as: “the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet.”

Nearly 8 in 10 middle-skill jobs now require digital skills, according to recent research by Burning Glass. What’s more, those jobs requiring digital skills pay an average of 18% more than those that don’t.


Excel tricks to make you a power user

If you read my blog posts regularly, you’ll know I’m a HUGE fan of coding as the most important skill an entrepreneur or employee can have today. Learning to code offers so many valuable benefits, including allowing you to save money on marketing and web design functions, and giving you better perspective when hiring out coding tasks.

But when it comes to specific programs, one of the most important ones to master is that old Microsoft standby: Excel.

In fact, 67% of jobs that require digital literacy also require proficiency in both Word and Excel. Maybe you used Excel in college but haven’t touched it since, or perhaps it’s something you struggle with (and despise) on a regular basis. It’s not really known as a program people love working in, but you can’t deny the sheer power of Microsoft Excel.

In fact, WordStream was born out of my own need to automate a lot of the functions I was doing regularly as a search marketing consultant. I spent entire days (and nights) wrangling Excel and making it do backflips in the mid-2000s. Conditional formatting, pivot tables, forecasting and other functions can be crazy difficult to learn, but are so important to know.

So I get it. I feel your pain… I understand that knot in your gut when you hear the word “Excel.” It can be super complicated, there’s no question.

But Microsoft Excel can also help you save time, make better business decisions, and ultimately be a more valuable asset in the office, whether it’s your own company or someone else’s.

That’s why this infographic I came across is so good. UK training company STL compiled their top seven Excel tricks in a visual guide called 7 Essential Excel Tricks Every Office Worker Needs to Know.

In it, they offer super simple shortcuts to powerful Excel functions like VLOOKUP, Quick Analysis, Power View and more.

Check it out:


Excel tricks infographic

Image credit: STL

7 Essential Excel Tricks Every Office Worker Needs to Know

For office workers looking for enhanced pay and career progression the answer is surprisingly simple – become an Excel power user.

According to a 2015 report, 78% of middle-skill jobs require digital literacy – including the most promising positions for pay and job creation.

67% of these roles demand expertise in both Excel and Word. Make sure your Excel skills help rather than hinder your career prospects.

Here are 7 Excel tricks that every office worker should know.

1. Charting

If you’re going to present data to stakeholders, then it pays to make it look professional.

The Recommended Charts tool offers basic visualization, giving stakeholders a clear understanding of data trends. You can show them the bigger picture by placing different charts together onto one sheet.

How to:

Enter data into Excel with the column headers, then select “Insert > Chart > Chart Type”

2. Conditional Formatting

With this tool, you can easily highlight points of interest within your dataset. For instance, you could be recording project efficiency and format cells below 80% to be highlighted in red.

The choices are endless, and you can customize the rules to fit your criteria.

How to:

Select the cells and click “Home > Conditional Formatting > Add” to determine your formatting.

3. Quick Analysis

This tool speeds up the process of working with small data sets, minimizing the time spent on creating charts.

After selecting your data, you can access tools like formatting, charts, tables, totals, and Sparklines.

How to:

Select your data and click on the icon in the bottom right corner to bring up the Quick Analysis menu.

4. Autofill

A huge time saver, and one that many people overlook – the autofill feature removed the need to manually enter row upon row of data.

How to:

Click and hold the lower-right column of the cell and drag down the column.

5. Power View

An interactive data exploration and visualization tool, Power View can quickly collate and analyze large datasets and create interactive, presentation-ready reports.

Compatible with PowerPoint, it’s an unbeatable aid for delivering reports.

How to:

In Excel 2013, go to “Inset > Reports”.

6. Pivot Tables

Arguably the most powerful yet intimidating of Excel tools.

PivotTables allow you to quickly summarize large amounts of data in lists and tables. Better yet, none of this requires writing a single formula.

How to:

Go to “Insert > PivotTable” and select your data range. Select your fields in the top half of the right-hand-side bar, and the bottom half is the area you use to generate the table.


If you’re working across different sheets and workbooks, VLOOKUP will allow you to collate data and bring those sheets together to create different reports and summaries.

Ideal for sales professionals, it can pull information such item description, price, inventory, etc.

How to:

Summon the VLOOKUP formula in the formula menu and enter the cell that contains your reference number. Then enter the range of cells to pull data from, the column number for the data point you’re looking for, and either “True” or “False”.

Excel may well be the most used business software on the market, and yet so many professionals don’t fully understand its features. Whether you’re a beginner or a power user, Excel has the tools to take your career to the next level.

This blog post originally appeared at Inc.com. It is republished here with permission.

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Meet The Author

Larry Kim

Larry Kim is the founder of WordStream and CEO of MobileMonkey, a chatbot building platform.

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