Best way to learn Microsoft Excel 2010 in a hurry!
September 6, 2016 10:57 PM   Subscribe

I'll shortly be starting a distance learning course with the Open University which will take me about 20-25 hours a week to do. I am looking for 20 hours a week or so of part-time work as an admin assistant or assistant in a marketing department (I have a marketing degree, but haven't really used it in many years). I have seen jobs advertised which are most working with Excel spreadsheets, and I have Microsoft Office 2010 on my computer, so I want to learn Excel 2010 ASAP then I can start applying for such jobs. Any tips or resources?

I have a Udemy course "From Zero To Hero" for Excel 2010, but I'd be prepared to buy another resource or a book (though video learning seems to work best for me). I also need (eventually) to get quicker on the keyboard, I can touch type just now but I recall an effective person in a role with a lot of data input and she used the number pad to the right of the keyboard, how do I learn how to get used to and fast with that? (it's an investment of time but in the long run it will make me quicker overall).

I am keen to keep Excel 2010 on my laptop as it was bought on DVD so is mine to keep forever. However if anyone is familiar with the UK admin/ temp scene, do a lot of offices use Office 365 now, or Office 2013? I might get a refurb laptop and an ebay licence for 365 (they are often given away with tablets, 1 year free, and the licence keys get resold often). Is this a good idea, to learn both, or is 2010 still the most common version I'd encounter?

Thanks in advance for any help which people can give.
posted by AuroraSky to Work & Money (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If I need to do something in Excel, I type my question into a search engine and open a tab each for each of the top answers and scan them all for formulas that look like they do what I need. Then I try them. Sometimes I take notes on the problem I solved and how I solved it -- if I teach it to someone else, then I've learned it! It has never occurred me to "learn Excel" as a separate thing on its own, or to think that I don't have Excel as a skill just because I haven't taken a course in Excel.

Data entry doesn't seem a good use of anyone's time: I imagine in 2016, most active data that is already in a digital format, and all you have to do is import it. If I am totally wrong about this, you can turn up lots of games / practice with this search.

To improve at these games beyond brute practice, I would think about reading ahead a few numbers so you can plan your fingers' next moves while they're already typing. I would also spend some time imagining what it's like to quickly type in clusters of 3 numbers, followed by a delimiter, followed by 3 numbers, etc, so that when you see a value like 143,295,422, your brain already knows what each of the clusters feels like and you're not thinking about individual numbers.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:17 PM on September 6, 2016

I think a lot of job adverts use knowledge of Excel as a simple criteria for screening out people who are not happy with computers in general. It is very unlikely that you are going to face a job interview where somebody grills you on every function of the software (and certainly not on a specific version such as 2010) - but most offices do appreciate somebody who is a relative power user of the software - somebody good enough to help themselves and others. For me, the markers of somebody who is likely to be good at Excel is that they know about pivot tables and lookups - so you could have a look at those - so you might want to mention that you know about these things and be prepared to back yourself up. Here is a pretty good beginners video tutorial to get you started. Youtube has many more on whatever specific function you'd like to search for.
posted by rongorongo at 12:40 AM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would hesitate to learn 2010, it's almost 2 versions out of date- Office 2016 is coming. Yes, many offices still use 2010 but in a very short time you'll be on the wrong side of the curve. Excel 2013 is probably the better choice.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:30 AM on September 7, 2016

Mr. gudrun was very happy with this Udemy Excel 2013 intro./intermediate class. They say it takes about 8 hours to do the whole thing.

You can find free number pad lessons online. Here is one.
posted by gudrun at 8:18 AM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I know of people who use Excel at work to correlate and manipulate data from vendor system(s) that provide an option to export the vendor's report/data into an Excel or CSV (comma separated value) format usable by Excel.

By that I mean, that the company cannot afford to pay the vendor to do custom reports for them, or pay a consultant to produce a report with data drawn from two or more different vendor systems, but they can afford to have someone (as a small portion of their job) draw the data together and produce charts or reports with that data, on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis. One such person I know is an administrative assistant.

And yes, understanding and knowledge of pivot tables is a good skill, as rongorongo mentioned.

Unfortunately my knowledge is from the USA, but I just thought I'd share the above thoughts.
posted by forthright at 9:42 AM on September 7, 2016

(any links below are US links)

First off - be very careful about any resold 'ebay licence for 365'. These things are often scams and you will end up throwing away your money. If the software is loaded on a refurbished laptop, that might work as long as the seller is reputable. However, sites that sell OEM Licenses are problematic.

The changes between the last few versions of Excel are not all that big (for the beginning user). If you know the basics in 2010, you will be able to work in 2016. However, given the cost of Office 365 per month, I think it would be worth it to have that version. It is leaner and faster. As long as your computer can handle the tech requirements, it can be a help. Go for the ‘personal’ version unless you plan on using it on multiple computers. I don’t know about UK pricing, but here in the US it is about $7/month (or something close to that).

As for classes, the Udemy course you are in has a definite value. At the same time, there is quite a bit of free direction online as to the best starter skills. Articles like this one from Tech Republic are all over the net. Just search for '10 best things to know in Excel' and you will be reading for days.

Don’t get too hung up on becoming an ace in the first week. Get your mind used to the basic environment and then build on that. Excel does a million things, but 95% of the businesses rely on maybe 100 (yes, one hundred) functions. Plus, most offices will always have that ‘Excel Guru’ who will have the answers for the rest of the office.

Find a forum where you can post questions you have. There are great, free sites like which have extensive forums and have been around for ages. Chances are somebody has asked the question before that you might have right now. It is easier to read a thread of existing answers than start a new one and wait for a reply. Learn the key words to use when searching in those forums for better results. Most sites are free and only require a valid email address.

There are tons of little utilities that might help you, but as you are starting out, shy away from those add-ins. Where you end up working will probably not have those items and most businesses forbid installing them anyway. Better not to be reliant on a particular software that you won’t have access to.
posted by lampshade at 8:49 PM on September 7, 2016

A Microsoft certification might be useful in a job search to prove you know the basics. Can't speak to the UK job scene specifically, though.

Here are the topics covered on the Excel 2010 cert exam (US version):
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:16 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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