Why the Excel Dashboard Toolbox is What You Need

Why the Excel Dashboard Toolbox is What You Need

​Do we really need anything? Sure we do...but why the Excel Dashboard Toolbox.

​Here's the thing.

​Learning dashboard techniques by scouring the web can be a time consuming feat. Buying Excel Dashboard courses is usually a great way to learn the theory and steps in creating a dashboard but often times you're left with having to extract your favorite lessons and concepts on your own.

That's where the Excel Dashboard Toolbox fits in. The Toolbox is all about being able to use the dashboard, review the calculations used and then learn exactly how to implement that technique all bundled into one neat workbook. In my first and most recent Excel Dashboard Toolbox my goal is to train you with 5 Data Transformation Techniques that you can apply immediately in your own dashboards.

The concept is simple. You've got a workbook with the best Excel dashboard creation techniques at the click of a workbook (stored nicely on your local hard drive).

In this article I go over 6 different reasons why the Excel Dashboard Toolbox is what you need.

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How to Freeze Rows and Columns in Excel

How to Freeze Rows and Columns in Excel

Excel Tutorial Summary: Freeze Rows and Columns in Excel

Learning how to freeze rows and columns in Excel is up there on the list of things you need to learn as an Excel newbie. This simple yet powerful feature allows you to scroll through large data sets, freeze dashboards, charts or pretty much any object in Excel by freezing rows or columns. Freezing rows and columns is especially helpful when you have information / data outside the cells that are displayed on your screen.

You can either watch the video located below or you can work through the step by step processes also located below..

Skill Level: Beginner

Video: How to Freeze Rows & Columns in Excel

video icon


I’m a huge advocate for learning by video so in this clip, I’ll introduce and show you how to freeze rows and columns in Excel.

This section is made specifically for those of you who learn better by seeing / watching.

How to Freeze Rows in Excel


Select a Row

The first step of the process is to select the row (by highlighting the row number on the left).  Any content/cells above the highlighted row will be frozen so that when you scroll through your worksheet, you’ll continue to see that content.


Select View & Freeze Panes

The second and last step of being able to freeze rows in Excel is to head over to the view tab of the quick access ribbon and select freeze panes.  Once you’ve done this, as you scroll down through your spreadsheet, any rows above the row select will remain in sight on your worksheet.

How to Freeze Columns in Excel


Select a Column

The first step of the process is to select the column (by highlighting the column letter on the top of your spreadsheet).  Any content/cells left of the highlighted column will be frozen so that when you scroll through your worksheet from right to left, you’ll continue to see that content.

In the example below, I’ve frozen all columns to the left of column C so that we can see the stock name and its ticker symbol.


Select View & Freeze Panes to Freeze Columns

The second and last step of being able to freeze columns in Excel is to head over to the view tab of the quick access ribbon and select freeze panes.  Once you’ve done this, as you scroll to the right in your spreadsheet, any columns to the left of your highlighted column will remain in sight on your worksheet.

How to Freeze Rows & Columns in Excel


Select a Cell

The first step of the process is to select a cell whereby you want all columns to the left to be frozen and all rows above the cell to be frozen.  This will then allow columns and rows to the left and above to always be shown when scrolling through your worksheet.

In the example below, I’ve selected cell C2 so that all columns to the left of column C and all rows above row 2 will remain frozen when scrolling.


Select View & Freeze Panes to Freeze Columns and Rows

The second and last step of being able to freeze columns and rows at once in Excel is to head over to the view tab of the quick access ribbon and select freeze panes.  Once you’ve done this, as you scroll to the right or down in your spreadsheet, any columns to the left and any rows above your highlighted cell will remain in sight on your worksheet.

Learn By Doing – Buy a $5 Dashboard

101 of the Most Shared Excel Articles You Need to Read

101 of the Most Shared Excel Articles You Need to Read

Are you overwhelmed by the amount of Excel articles on the web?

If you said yes, then we are definitely on the same page and I’m willing to bet there’s a few or many following behind us.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve set out to find the most shared Excel articles on the web and I’ve decided to put together a list showing you only articles that have been shared 100 or more times.

I’ve created this list using an amazing tool called Buzz Sumo which allows you to find the most shared content on the web for keywords, websites, videos, podcasts you name it.

The whole reason why I started this little adventure is because I want to provide you with some of the most valuable information you can find on the web when it comes to Excel and I think I’ve achieved this here.

As you go through this list, I’ll provide you with the name of the article and a link as well as the number total shares sorted from highest to lowest.



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Get a Sortable Spreadsheet with 101 Excel Articles that Includes Links,# of Shares by Social media Type, Excel Category, Website and Rank.

101 Of the Most Shared Excel Articles



[1] 12 Excel Formulas, Features & Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Should Know  [Total Shares: 10,053]

[2] 7 Handy Excel Tricks That’ll Impress Your Boss – Infographic [Total Shares: 9,658]

[3] 5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Microsoft Excel Office [Total Shares: 3,364]

[4] Eight Useful Microsoft Excel Shortcuts Worth Memorizing [Total Shares:  3,183]

[5] 11 Excel Tricks to Teach Your Students [Total Shares:  3,022]

[6] Why Pivot Tables? [Total Shares:  2,609]

[7] 300 Excel Examples [Total Shares:  1,807]

[8] 40 Handy Excel Shortcuts You Can’t Live Without [Total Shares:  1,701]

[9] Learn Eight Helpful Microsoft Excel Tricks with This Handy Cheat Sheet [Total Shares: 1,541]

[10] Excel logical formulas: 5 simple IF statements to get started [Total Shares: 1,475]  

[11] Awesome Excel Tricks to Impress Your Boss [Total Shares: 1,373]

[12] 6 new Excel functions that simplify your formula editing experience – Office Blogs [Total Shares: 1,314]

[13] How to Master Microsoft Office Excel [Total Shares: 1,218]

[14] Your Excel formulas cheat sheet: 15 tips for calculations and common tasks [Total Shares:  1,196]

[15] Microsoft Excel – Working With INDEX() Formula [Total Shares: 1,081]

[16] Simple But Powerful Excel Tricks for Analyzing Data [Total Shares:  1,039]

[17] MICROSOFT EXCEL – VLOOKUP [Total Shares: 1,028]

[18] How to analyze business data in Excel [Total Shares: 1,012]

[19] Work Faster in Microsoft Excel: 5 Secret Tricks [Total Shares: 1,001]

[20] 3 ways to drive business decisions using the new Excel 2016 charts – Office Blogs [Total Shares: 966]

[21] Microsoft excel formulas list with examples [Total Shares: 885]

[22] Tricks of Text to Column in MS Excel [Total Shares: 781]

[23] Top 15 Useful Excel Formula Cheat Sheet [Total Shares: 720]

[24] Excel: Cash Flow Waterfall Charts in Excel 2016 – Strategic Finance [Total Shares: 674]

[25] Making Cash flow summary in Excel using Pivot tables with data on multiple worksheets [Total Shares: 621]

[26] 8 Great Tools to Make You an Excel Expert [Total Shares: 580]

[27] Working with Data and Date Related formulas in Excel [Total Shares: 562]

[28] Making Profit and Loss Statements in Excel using Pivot tables [Total Shares: 537]

[29] 8 tips and tricks you should know for Excel 2016 for Mac [Total Shares: 530]

[30] How to Add a Secondary Axis to an Excel Chart [Total Shares: 491]

[31] 5 essential tips for creating Excel macros [Total Shares: 488]

[32] Gantt Chart Excel: Step-by-step, visual tutorial [Total Shares: 467]

[33] Better Profit and Loss Statements with Waterfall Charts in Excel [Total Shares: 455]

[34] What to do with Excel 2016’s new chart styles: Treemap, Sunburst, and Box & Whisker [Total Shares: 453]

[35] 5 Little-Known Excel Tips That Will Make You Look Smarter Than Your Co-Workers [Total Shares: 437]

[36] FIFO Inventory Valuation in Excel using Data Tables [Total Shares: 436]

[37] 001: VBA & Excel Add-Ins with Chris Newman [Total Shares: 415]

[38] Key Tips in Excel [Total Shares: 412]

[39] Use INDEX and MATCH for simple database queries in Excel [Total Shares: 393]

[40] Top Excel Tips For Data Analysts [Total Shares: 391]

[41] Learn how to unpivot static tables in Excel 2016 – Office Blogs [Total Shares: 387]

[42] Use Conditional Formatting to make Charts for Excel dashboards [Total Shares: 376]

[43] Five Excel Tips You Will Actually Use [Total Shares: 366]

[44] 27+ Ways to Teach Yourself How to Become the Excel Guru Everybody Relies On [Total Shares: 359]

[45] Excel tips for young CPAs [Total Shares: 355]

[46] Multi-level Pivot Table in Excel [Total Shares: 353]

[47] Calculate Years, Months, Days elapsed from a certain date in Microsoft Excel 2010 [Total Shares: 333]

[48] Excel Tip: Bars, Scales, and Sets [Total Shares: 317]

[49] Learn how to shape and transform data with unprecedented ease in Excel 2016 – Office Blogs [Total Shares: 303]

[50] How to Create a Checklist using Conditional Formatting in Microsoft Excel [Total Shares: 269]



TOP 50-101 Excel Articles

[51] The Zen of What-if Analysis  [Total Shares: 249]

[52] Excel Tips Format Time [Total Shares: 235]

[53] Formula Auditing in Excel [Total Shares: 232]

[54] 21 things you should know about VLOOKUP [Total Shares: 223]

[55] The Great Circular Referencing Hoax in Excel [Total Shares: 215]

[56] Dynamically Highlight data points in Excel charts using Form Controls [Total Shares: 211]

[57] Top 10 Excel Productivity Tips [Total Shares: 209]

[58] 15 Quick and Powerful ways to Analyze Business Data [Total Shares: 207]

[59] Transpose Data in Excel [Total Shares: 204]

[60] Multi Conditional Vlookup in Excel [Total Shares: 200]

[61] Transitioning from Excel Power Pivot/Query to Power BI Desktop: A Remarkably Smooth Road [Total Shares: 199]

[62] How to delete an entire row based on a condition? [Total Shares: 195]

[63] Separate Values and Text in Power Query – Part 2 [Total Shares: 194]

[64] Excel Flash Fill [Total Shares: 192]

[65] 200+ Excel Formula Examples [Total Shares: 191]

[66] Pivot Table Grouping – Numbers & Dates [Total Shares: 185]

[67] Guidelines for Creating Effective Dashboards [Total Shares: 183]

[68] Create Custom Filters 4X faster using Excel VBA [Total Shares: 180]

[69] Structured Referencing to Identify Parts of Excel Tables [Total Shares: 174]

[70] VLookup To The Left WithThe Choose Function [Total Shares: 172]

[71] Apply Custom Data Labels to Charted Points [Total Shares: 171]

[72] 002: Power Query with Ken Puls [Total Shares: 167]

[73] Excel Sparklines [Total Shares: 161]

[74] KPI Dashboard in Excel – Dynamic Chart Interpretation [Total Shares: 161]

[75] Auto highlighting Excel charts [Total Shares: 156]

[76] Power Query/Excel 2016 VBA Examples [Total Shares: 153]

[77] Bullet Charts in Excel (updated and simplified) [Total Shares: 151]

[78] 10 Little Known Facts about Excel’s Humble Beginnings [Total Shares: 149]

[79] Excel PivotTable Calculated Items by Position [Total Shares: 148 ]

[80] CP050: Fifty Excel Tips to make you awesome [Total Shares: 142]

[81] Automatically Generating Date Dimension Tables In Excel 2016 Power Pivot [Total Shares: 138]

[82] 3 Reasons Why You Need to Start Using Excel GETPIVOTDATA  [Total Shares: 137]

[83] Merge Tables using Inner and Anti Joins in Power Query [Total Shares: 137]

[84] 5 Easy Steps on How to Make an Excel Dashboard [Total Shaes: 135]

[85] Excel Slicers – Introduction, what are they, how to use them, tips, advanced concepts, interactive charts & reports using Slicers & Pivot Tables [Total Shares: 132]

[86] Excel Multi-cell Array Formulas [Total Shares: 130]

[87] Custom number formats in Excel [Total Shares: 128]

[88] Excel Slicer Trick  [Total Shares: 127]

[89] Excel Custom Number Formatting Basics [Total Shares: 127]

[90] Calculate Hours Worked in Excel with Power Query [Total Shares: 126]

[91] Excel Formulas: Understanding Number Formats [Total Shares: 126]

[92] KPI performance charts & dashboards – 43 alternatives (contest entries) [Total Shares: 125]

[93] VBA: A Simple Tool to Open a CSV File and Create Chart with Data Specified by User [Total Shares: 118]

[94] Creating a custom calendar in Power Query [Total Shares: 115]

[95] Easy Step-By-Step Instructions To Create Your First Excel Ribbon Add-in [Total Shares: 114]

[96] Charts That Update Automatically in Excel [Total Shares: 114]

[97] Finding All Selected Items In A Slicer In Excel 2016 Using TextJoin() [Total Shares: 112]

[98] 7 Excel formula errors that make you look dumb [Total Shares: 111]

[99] Identify Duplicates Using Power Query [Total Shares: 104]

[100] Creating Dynamic Chart Titles in Excel [Total Shares: 101] 

[101] Salary Chart: Plot Markers on Floating Bars [Total Shares: 100]



Your Favorite Excel Articles & Closing Thoughts


Building yourself a spreadsheet with links and including Excel categories will help you stay organized and really give you a solid go to resource to refer to time and time again when you’re stuck (signup to my newsletter to get your spreadsheet started).

Hopefully there are a few hidden gems in this list that you can use to skyrocket your Excel learning.

Feel free to leave any of your personal favorites below (even if they have less than 100 shares) and also be sure to leave a comment if you have any.

Until the next time.





27+ Ways to Teach Yourself How to Become the Excel Guru Everybody Relies On

27+ Ways to Teach Yourself How to Become the Excel Guru Everybody Relies On


Why is it so important to become an Excel guru?

Because everybody in the world uses Excel.

You can either be the person asking for help or you can be the person helping.

The best part about being an Excel guru is that you can bring your skills with you wherever you go.

Even if where you’re going isn’t hiring you for your advanced Excel skills, it’s a great icebreaker and you’ll quickly become everybody’s new best friend.

Here’s a mini library of ways you can teach yourself how to become the Excel guru that everybody relies on.

Be sure to you use the guru categories on the right to guide you through the sections.

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27 + Ways to Learn Excel Spreadsheet with Details and Links + Excel Resources Spreadsheet + Additional Links

27 + Excel Learning Techniques Spreadsheet


Become an Excel Guru by Practicing with Real Data Sets


Teach yourself using Excel data sets, really?

I know that’s what you’re thinking but in the real world and in business you use data sets to answer questions and solve problems. You need to be able to work with boring ol’ data sets and be able to turn them into something exciting.

In this section, I’ll provide you with a few hidden gems and resources that you can use to find test Excel data sets.

These are going to help you achieve that Excel guru status by giving you real information to play with and use to teach yourself those killer Excel skills.


1. Find and Use Open Data to Practice and Teach Yourself Excel 


Open Data Sets

Communities, cities, and countries are all making data publicly available for your consumption. If you live in a metropolitan area, there is a good chance you can go to google and type in your city name + open data and you’ll find it.

Exporting this data and analyzing it in Excel might upset you depending on the data set that you pull but at least you’ll be able to play around and teach yourself some awesome Excel tricks.

It’s important that you get your hands dirty with this type of real data.  Here is a short list of my favorite resources:

Data.gov – The Home of the U.S Government’s Open Data

Open.canada.ca – Canada’s Open Data Website

Open Data Toronto

Open Data New York City

2. Teach Yourself Excel Using Real Business Models 


Business Data Models

I stumbled across this website a few years ago and I’ve found it extremely useful for applying and creating real business models and data sets in Excel.

Database Answers

This website is great for understanding what types of data sets might be being used in a specific industry or sector that you’re working in or hoping to work in. Once you find the model you want to work with, you can create a data set in Excel by finding the field names that would be used for a specific table on that model.  Add the column headers and use some of the below resources to create your test data sets for practice:

Building Random Data Sets

Dummy Data – How to Use Random Functions

Once you’ve built your dummy data set for your model, you can start practicing your Excel skills by applying some formulas and techniques that you’ll learn in some of the other points in this article.

3. Teach Yourself Excel Using Data Sets You’ve Found Using the Google Filetype Operator


Filetype-xls search

It’s really as simple as the screen shot.

Head over to Google and type in filetype:XLS and then in quotations (this just means look for an exact match) find a certain keyword or type of data set that you’re looking for.

Again once you’ve got your data set, we can proceed to use this data for practical learning and testing in Excel.

4. Teach Yourself Excel Using Practical Business Sample Data


Excel Sample Data Sets

I’ve started to create Excel sample data to help provide my customers and readers with an alternative to having to create and find relevant business data to practice their skills in Excel.

These data sets are great for practicing and building Excel dashboards and should help you with building up your skills to Excel Guru status.

Here is an example of the type of dashboard that you could practice and build using these data sets:

Excel HR Salary Dashboard

5. Teach Yourself Excel By Importing Historical Stock Prices From Yahoo Into Excel


Historical Stock Prices Import Excel

Samir Khan at Invest Excel did a really good job of putting together a well coded import process directly through Excel to Yahoo Finance.  In this article he quickly reviews how you can use his excel template to quickly and efficiently import stock information without even having to leave your spreadsheet.

Samir was generous enough to give away the spreadsheet for free so that you can play around with his model.  You can download the Excel spreadsheet on his blog post page:

 Importing Historical Stock Prices from Yahoo into Excel

There are a couple of things you can do to ramp up your Excel learning:


1 – You checkout his VBA code to start learning how you can build and begin to learn how to import data from the web using VBA.  To do this, simply type ALT + F11 once you are in the spreadsheet. You can then review the modules as well as the code he has created on sheet1.

2 – Use the data set generated on the data tab to starting building your own investment models.  Think about ways you can use formulas like MAX, MIN, AVERAGE, INDEX etc.   I already have a ton of different ideas that you can implement to build an automated investment model that changes as you alter the historical data set.

This might be my favorite method for getting to know and understand some of the features that are available in Excel.  If you can begin to master and create models using this data, you’re well on your way to becoming an Excel guru.

You’ll need to think outside the box on what’s important when you’re investing.  Think about searching some of the major websites like Stock Trader to begin to understand the models and then maybe try and apply those concepts in your spreadsheets.


Bonus: Use the MarketXLS Excel Add-In to Learn How to Analyze Stock Data in Excel (Premium Product) [affiliate]


MarketXLS Software Excel


Being able to get a live up to the minute data feed as well as historical data for stock quotes into Excel at the drop of the hat is pretty remarkable. MarketXLS has done an amazing job at allowing you to pull in data, transform and analyze stock quotes and do things like the following:


  • Import Top 100 gainers / Top 100 Losers for the day (see left data set in screenshot above).
  • Import up to the minute stock quote data and dump it directly into Excel.
  • Dump historical data and perform analysis using every technical tool you could imagine.
  • Use and create visualization tools like candlestick charts and line charts.


MarketXLS Pro Excel Ribbon 

MarketXLS Add-In Tool for Excel

This tool of course allows you to do much more as well but the biggest and most exciting part about this is the ability for those who are looking to learn Excel to pull in real data into Excel and perform and learn how to analyze and perform research analysis directly in Excel.

If you aren’t performing or needing to do a lot of research analysis for the stock market, this tool might not be the tool for you but if your looking to get into investment banking (or already are), this might be a great product for you to teach yourself Excel stock analysis.


P.S. – I was able to work with MarketXLS to get 20% off all products that they provide – click any of the links in this post to get the discount.


Back to Guru Categories


Become an Excel Guru By Learning to use Excel’s Built-In Help Features


Yes.  Excel does have it’s own built in features to help you learn Excel just that much quicker.

Excel has thankfully built features into the application that help you in learning Excel formulas and other features at the click of a button.  Let’s dive into some of these learning techniques.


6. Learn About Excel Anomalies and Features Using the F1 Help Option 


F1 Excel Help

Surprisingly, built right into Excel is a help screen that provides you with a lot of useful information on how to handle common situations, issues, formulas and features in Excel.

These are often some of the most common questions users will have about using the application when they are first starting out but it also does contain some additional advanced help. To access the screen, once you are located anywhere within your workbook, simply hit the F1 key and the help program will launch automatically.

Fun Tip: You can use F1 when you’re in the middle of inputting code and depending on where you are, the method or property information will be brought up automatically for you so that you can understand how it works.

F1 Help VBA

7. Learn How to Use Excel Functions Using the Insert Functions Option (SHIFT + F3) 


Insert function Option

Learning Excel formulas should definitely be at the top of your priority list if you want to become an Excel guru.  A great way to do this is running through the list of available formulas and then using the help on this function link as shown above.

To access and use the insert function window, select a cell and then type SHIFT +  F3.  You can then search for a function, select a category and/or run through the list in the scroll box.  Once you’ve selected the function you’d like to learn, click on help on this function.

This page will give you the syntax and then also explain and give you an example that you can use for your learning process.


8. Learn Excel Formulas by using SHIFT + F3 during Formula Entry to Enter Function Arguments 


Function Arguments

If you know exactly what function / formula you want to use to solve a problem, you can type in the equals symbol with the formula name and then hit SHIFT + F3.

This will provide you with a description of the formula and also allow you to enter your function arguments individually with a description of what that argument is asking for.  This is great if you’re just starting to use a certain formula and you’re forgetting how it should be used.


9. Learn Excel Formulas by using Evaluate Formula to Understand why your Formulas aren’t Working 


Excel Evaluate Formula

When it comes to complex data models and spreadsheets, the evaluate formula can come in handy especially when it comes to nested Excel formulas.

Evaluate formula allows you to step into each step of the formula process to help you understand how the formula has either failed or to just give you an idea how the formula actually works.  This is great when starting to learn Excel for dissecting Excel business models and dashboards.

To access the evaluate formula window, select the cell that contains the formula, head over to the formula tab on the quick access ribbon and under formula auditing, select evaluate formula.

Once the window appears, you simply need to click evaluate and it will walk you through the formula steps.  You can then step into each section of a nested formula to get a true understanding of how the formula works.

10. Learn Excel formulas and Data Models by Showing all Formulas (SHIFT + `)


Show All Formulas

Being able to understand what formulas are being used in an Excel dashboard or model to build calculations is another step forward in becoming an Excel guru.

Using the show formulas option by either clicking show formulas under the formulas tab on the quick access ribbon or typing CTRL + ` will allow you to see how formulas are interacting with your data sets.  This will help you learn how to use formulas when building models.


11. Refer Back to Great Excel Resources using a Resource Tracker in Excel


Resources for becoming an Excel Guru

This may seem slightly trivial but you’ll realize very quickly that as you learn new Excel techniques, if you don’t reuse them, you’ll lose them.

By building a spreadsheet as you come across cool Excel concepts on the web, you’ll have access to links to all of your favorite articles.  The key here is to add a tag column as well as an Excel category so that you can easily filter and manipulate the spreadsheet to find certain articles or concepts as you need them.

Note that you could also create a shortcut spreadsheet for your reference.

Get the content upgrade with this post to access the Excel Resources Template.

Back to Guru Categories

Become an Excel Guru Using these Excel Resources


I know Excel resources seems like a pretty broad category but I’m going to focus my attention only on a few different ones in this section.

There are so many different platforms out there today that can help you learn Excel that either come with an investment or might even be free. In this section, I’ll review several different ways that you can use some of these amazing resources to speed up your path to Excel Guruness.


12. Learn Anything and Everything about Excel using Courses on Udemy 


Excel Courses on Udemy

Alright so here’s the deal, Udemy truly is an amazing platform and it does offer courses for a wide range of prices starting from free all the way up to serious amounts of money.

That being said with the review of their current pricing structure, Udemy is currently in the process of changing their pricing structure so that all courses are priced between $20 – $50 a piece with a maximum discount rate of %50.  The reason they are doing this is because it seems that around 90% of their sales are realized in that price range.

The planned implementation date of the launch will be in and around early April 2016.

With that in mind, you’ll want to signup to Udemy (if you haven’t already) and what you can do is start searching specific subjects in Excel that you are looking to learn.

From there, you can select whether or not you’d like to receive their newsletters with promotions and other information via email.  You’ll want to select yes so that you get the best deals on the courses you’re interested in.

Here’s a great way of adding and finding courses that suit your needs:


1 – In the search box type in “Excel” and hit enter.

2 – This will bring up by default a list of Excel courses that are available.  You can then filter the courses using the filters on the left hand side as shown in the screen shot above.

3 – Next you can also then sort based on reviews, language, high / low pricing, or newest.

4 – Once you’ve got that organized, you can select the course you feel fits your Excel needs by clicking on it.

5 – You can then add that course to your wishlist (or buy it of course).


The reason why I’ve said to add it to your wishlist is because Udemy is notorious for having sales on their courses and you might want to wait for one of their promotions to pickup the course you want to take at a discounted price.  This is why I mentioned making sure to receive their newsletters.


13. Become an Excel Guru using Free YouTube Videos


Excel YouTube Channels

Content is being created by the minute on YouTube and there definitely is no exception when it comes to Excel.

The beautiful thing about YouTube – the content is free (for the most part).

My Top 5 Active Excel YouTube Channels

#1: ExcelIsFun 

This is the staple Excel channel. I mean common, Mike Girvin has over 280,000 subscribers and 2,717 videos at the time of writing this article

#2: Contextures Inc.

Debra Dagleish has been an recognized as an Excel expert for a long time and her material speaks for itself.  She has some really great playlists like 30 Excel Functions, Excel Data Validation and Excel programming.

#3: Bill Jelen

Also known as Mr. Excel, has built up a massive database of Excel videos (1,717 videos) and really is just one of the best in the industry when it comes to teaching and training Excel. He has built some great Excel series/playlists on his YouTube channel like “Don’t Fear the Spreadsheet”.

#4: Excel TV

Rick Grantham, Oz Du Soleil and Jordan Goldmeier video chat and discuss Excel topics with some of the best experts in the industry including themselves.  Each of them bring something unique to the table.  Their videos can be extremely informative and they also help you in getting to know some of the Excel experts that are out there in the industry. This channel is all about giving back to the Excel community.

#5: ExcelTutorials – from Chandoo.Org

There is one person in the Excel game that is hard to leave out and that’s Chandoo (Purna Duggirala).  He’s done an amazing job at building up one of the most successful blogs on the internet and to be frank also just knows how to run a business all the while driving and bringing value to is followers and customers.

You can check my YouTube channel- bradedgardotcom out where I try to keep up to date on the regular.  My focus is typically on using practical Excel examples which helps with applying Excel techniques to real life or practical business situations.

This is definitely a condensed list of YouTube channels but with the help of Excel TV, you’ll find some of the greatest Excel experts out there.  There are many more that I would have liked to include but we need to continue on your quest to helping you become an Excel guru.


14. Organize Your Excel Kindle Book Notes and Highlights into Evernote


Excel Kindle Notes Highlights Export to Evernote

First of all, for those of you who aren’t using Evernote, you need to get on it now.

I purchase Excel books through Amazon’s kindle option all of the time for the simple fact that I can highlight and clip my notes and then easily revisit those notes.

The beauty about creating these highlights and then exporting them into Evernote is they become ridiculously easy to search for and find when you need them.  I’m not going to go into too much detail on Evernote because that’s not what this article is about.  But you do need to consider it if you’re reading Excel books often.

Checkout this blog post to get yourself started:

How to Get Your Kindle Highlights into Evernote


15. Find and Pay Money for the Excel Courses That Best Suit your Needs


MOTH - Power Query Course                 Chandoo - VBA Course

Paying money to find courses often might be a last resort for many because there is just so much information out there on the internet that you can get without having to pay any money.

The problem is you’re never getting the full story and you’re working hard on your own trying to piecemeal what you’re learning to get the overall picture.  If you strategize and pick the Excel course for you, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you can learn and become an Excel guru quickly on that specific subject.

Here are some of my favorite courses from some of the best teachers and trainers in the Excel industry (note that some are affiliates and I will be sure to place in brackets for full disclosure).

#1 – Power Query for Excel – By Mynda Tracey [Affiliate]

This course is for those who spend a lot of time manipulating and cleaning data.  With this course you’ll learn how to automate and import your data into Power Query in Excel (you’ll have to have Excel 2010 or later) so that you will no longer need to spend your time cleaning up data just so that you can perform your analysis.

#2 – Excel School + Dashboards + VBA – Chandoo [Affiliate]

Learning, and understanding dashboards and VBA in the real world can act as a serious competitive advantage over your colleagues.  In this course, Chandoo and his team dissect and show you everything from how to apply and use loops and conditions, using variables, working with cells and ranges, databases , pivot tables and user forms and finally they also take a deep look into integration with other office applications. The super package is what will get you pretty much everything you need to learn.

Chandoo also has a whole host of other Excel learning products that are seriously beneficial.

#3 – The VBA Pro Course – Jon Acampora at Excel Campus [Affiliate]

Alright so Jon has over 25,000 active subscribers on his website and creates some seriously amazing training programs in Excel.  His VBA pro course is bar none one of the best VBA courses out there.  That being said, as of right now, Jon’s course is closed and opens up only on occasion so you can click the link above and scroll down to the bottom where you can be notified when course enrollment open ups again.

#4 – Excel Mini Course – How to Use Excel Slicers to Sort Top 5 / Bottom 5 – Brad Edgar – (Get 25% Off with Coupon Code: learnexcel)

This is just a small course I put together that shows you how you can use the rank formula with Excel slicers to build a top 5 / bottom 5 Excel dashboard. This is a really slick way to show your top 5 or bottom 5 records using a slicer technique in your final Excel dashboards.

Like I said, there are so many different Excel courses out there and you’ll be able to pick up and find some of the best trainers in the world using some of the other resources that I’ve provided in this article.

If you have any Excel questions either way, you can always ask me in the comments.

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Become an Excel Guru by Reverse Engineering Excel Templates and Dashboards


This section reviews some of the cool ways to find templates and dashboards so that you can reverse engineer a spreadsheet on your own.

You can apply and use some of the techniques like show all formulas (SHIFT + `) that I showed you in the Learn in Excel section. This method of learning is definitely one of the best and I have to say it’s one of the ways I learned to apply and create dashboards in Excel.


16. Dissect and Learn Excel through Downloading Free Templates in Excel


Download MS office Templates for Excel

If you’re really not in the mood to find and pay for dashboard templates in Excel, this is one of the best ways to begin to learn some of the techniques that are utilized to build these templates.

All you’ll need to do is the following:

#1 – Go to the file area of your current spreadsheet in Excel.

#2 – Search for a template keyword of your choice (see # 1 in the screenshot).

#3 – Double click on the template of your choice.  This will open up for you in Excel and then you can start reverse engineering.

One of the things you’ll want to do is use some of the techniques that I showed you in the Learn in Excel section.  You can apply things like show all formulas, evaluate formulas, and simply investigate the formula itself using the insert function option.

As you review and reverse engineer many of these templates you’ll realize that they are using many of the same techniques like data validation, dynamic name ranges, SUMIF function and many more.


17. Learn Excel by Reverse Engineering a 5 Dollar Dashboard from your Industry


Excel 5 Dollar Dashboards

The beauty about learning and downloading a dashboard from my website is that there is a good chance (hopefully) that you’ll find something pertinent to your industry or what you’re doing.

You’ll see things like how I use shapes in Excel to build nice visual displays without taking away from the reason for the dashboard in the first place.

I have also created entire blog posts dedicated to explaining some of my secret techniques using video training as well as the written blog post itself.  These are great resources especially if you’re not willing to drop your coffee for the week on a dashboard.

Here are some free resources that you can use to learn some of the techniques used in my Excel dashboards:

#1 – Excel Customer Aged Receivables Dashboard

#2 – Excel Inventory Planning Dashboard

#3 – The Excel Human Resources Salary Dashboard

#4 – The Excel Budget and Expense Tracker

#5 – The Excel Sales Trend Dashboard


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Become an Excel Guru by Acquiring Relevant Excel Skills 


The problem today with just going out there and trying to learn the first thing that you find about Excel is that a lot of it is useless.

You want to be focusing your efforts on Excel formulas and concepts that are going to move you forward in your career.  Not only that, on the way it’s important to pick up and find shortcuts that will help you improve and also make you more efficient in Excel.


18. Learn the 20% of Excel Formulas that will get you to that 80 % Excel Guru Status


The only Excel Formulas You Really Need


I’m sure most of you have heard of the 80/20 principle.  The title basically explains it.

Sohail Anwar has put together a phenomenal FREE resource / Ebook that shows you and goes over what he calls the “Money Formulas”.  Essentially he has created an Ebook around the concept that there is only a finite set of formulas that you truly need in order to be successful in your career.

The Only Excel Formulas You Really Need

Sohail has also put together a really awesome and inspirational read titled How Excel got me a 6 Figure Salary in Less Than 3 Years.  This is well worth the read if you’re looking for a kick starter.


19. Learn an Excel Shortcut a Day Using this Shortcut Listing from Excel Jet


222 Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for PC and Mac

Dave Bruns from Excel Jet has done a fantastic job putting together some of the most useful (if not all) Excel shortcuts that you should be learning on the daily.

This is a list that I refer back too often as he’s provided search capabilities as well as a free PDF download.  If you’re serious about becoming efficient in Excel this is another great place to start:

222 Excel Shortcuts for PC & Mac

20. Learn Excel By Exporting a List of Commonly Asked Excel Questions Using Keywords via WebpageFx


Export List of Excel Questions to Excel

Here is the thing I hunted the internet high and low for this type of tool until one day I came across this gem of a tool through the blog QuickSprout.

This tool literally reviews and searches a specific set of websites based on the category selected and returns a result set of links and information for the keyword you’ve used. You can then export that set of links into Excel to review.

Here’s how it plays out.  The first thing you’ll want to do is go to the WebpageFx – FaqFox webpage.

#1 – Type in your keyword. In our case, we’ll put in Excel Tips.

#2 – Now select category, generic.  This will bring up a list of websites that the tool will scrape.

#3 – Hit the start searching button.

#4 – Download the spreadsheet with the results.

Voila.  This is what you’ll get out of this.  A nice table of Excel Tips questions that you can use learn what people are truly asking about on the web:

FaqFox List of Results

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Become an Excel Guru by Being Active in Excel Communities


If you want to achieve the true Excel Guru status that I keep referring to over and over, you need to get involved in different Excel communities like Reddit.

These places not only offer up and provide you with the opportunity to help your fellow Excelers, but it’ll also give you the chance to ask some of the best Excel experts out there on concepts you just don’t know how to do yet.


21. Go to /r/Excel on Reddit and Start Helping Other People with their Excel Problems



Using Reddit’s Excel community to boost your Excel skills is probably one of the best ways to really get amazing at Excel.  The majority of the questions and problems that are asked in the community apply to real world problems that users are trying to figure out.

This is great because you get to practice with true scenarios and you really get an idea of all of the different uses of Excel.

Get out there and start helping, learning and asking your own questions.

It’s a great place for your to ask for help as well.


22. Go to /r/Excel on Reddit and use the TOP, HOT & Other Hidden Gems to Learn Excel


Reddit Hot Top Pro Tip Sections

Alright so you really need to take advantage of the header in the r/Excel community.  Here you’ll find cool things like TOP, HOT and then a host of other cool links like Add-in, Templates, and Pro Tips.

Scroll through the lists of threads under these sections and you’ll be guaranteed to find some useful Excel juice and content.

Make sure you use the filter option that Reddit has made available for your convenience. You can find links only from the past hour all the way up to all time.


23. Use the Professionals on Quora to Help you Become an Excel Guru

Quora Learn Excel 

Learn the ins and outs of Quora and in no time at all you’ll be able to navigate and find some of the best Excel advice and information on the internet.

Quora allows you to select a topic like Microsoft Excel and then pin it to your read page where you can get a continuous flow and feed of Excel questions and answers.

You can of course chime in to help answer questions coming from others in the community or you can sit back and let some of the best professionals in the world answer these questions.

Be sure to browse through their Topic FAQ section for Microsoft Excel because from here you’ll find the most commonly asked questions about Excel.

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Become an Excel Guru Using Content Aggregation Tools


Many of you are probably already aware and use at least one of these content aggregation tools but for those of you who don’t, they are pretty freakin’ awesome.

It’s an RSS feed on steroids.  The beauty about these aggregation tools is that each tool offers a slightly different method of organizing and handling your content.

In this section, I’ll review just how you can use two of my favorite tools to help you step up your Excel game.


24. Use Feedly to Create an Excel Content Collection  


Feedly Creating Collections


Feedly is an incredible content aggregation tool that lets you make what are called collections.  This is great for creating direct feeds to all of your favorite Excel websites and resources (see the screenshot above for how to create a collection).

As new content gets added to your favorite sites, the feed updates to show you all of your unread content (when you select the top level collection on the left).  Again this is great for keeping up to date with the most recent Excel news as well as tricks and tips from the best in the industry.

Signup to my Excel newsletter to get this week’s content upgrade to get a full listing of the Excel websites I have on my feed.


Excel Collection Feedly


25. Use Flipboard to Create Your Own Excel Magazines


 Flipboard Excel Magazines


So here’s the thing. I stopped using Flipboard quite some time ago (as you can see by how old my post additions are above) but honestly I just realized and remembered how amazing it really is (and I’m starting back up).

Here are some of reasons why I love Flipboard for helping you become an Excel guru.


#1 – You can literally create a magazine with articles from anywhere on the web.  My favorite tool is the Flipboard chrome extension. Just follow the steps below and you can create and add content to your magazines while browsing the internet.

 Flipboard Chrome Extension

#2 – You can create highly targeted and organized Excel magazines by creating new ones for each valuable topic in Excel.

#3 – Once your magazines are created, you can organize the order of the content so that it reads like a book/magazine.  This is great for building yourself full blown Excel courses and tutorials.

#4 – If you’re worried about sharing your content, you can also make your magazine private (or you can leave it public of course).

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Become an Excel Guru by Using Excel Content Search Techniques



Being able to apply and use advanced search techniques to find the content that you need is becoming the way of the world.

I have created an entire blog post around this subject but I wanted to add a couple of them here because of how important it really is in your quest to becoming an Excel guru.


26. Use the Twitter Search Page to Find the Best Excel Content  


twitter search home

Twitter has an entire host of advanced search techniques that you can use in your favor for finding some of the best Excel content on the web in real time.

Head over to the Twitter Search page where you can use their advanced search tool as well as find a list of their advanced operators that will help you find the exact Excel information you’re looking for.

Finding the Excel content that you need to bring you to the next level is the next natural step to becoming an Excel guru.


27. Use Google Advanced Search to Help you Become Awesome in Excel

Google Advanced Search for Excel 

Hopefully you’ll be as excited as I was about finding this advanced search feature through Google.

From here you’ll be able to learn all of the operators and special filters that can be used to help you find the exact Excel concept that you’re trying to master at any given time.

Play around with all of the available search features and filters until you master it.  Once you’ve done that, you can head back over to your regular Google search and apply the custom operators to fetch you the best Excel content on the web.

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Closing Thoughts on Becoming an Excel Guru


Sadly, after all of those points I am sure there are many more great methods and ways to become an Excel guru.

That being said, ultimately you need to use the method that works best for you.

As your Excel skills improve, you’ll quickly realize how often people will be calling upon your expertise and sooner than later, they will not only be calling you for your help but they will be calling you because they need you.

It looks like you’ve made it!

3 Creative Ways to Use Special Fonts to Enhance Your Excel Spreadsheets

3 Creative Ways to Use Special Fonts to Enhance Your Excel Spreadsheets

How could you use a font to enhance your Excel spreadsheets?

I know that it’s tough to believe but special fonts actually offer a ridiculous amount of possibilities when it comes to building visual displays of any nature in Excel.

The more you begin to understand Excel and how objects interact, the more use you will find of these silly fonts.

When it comes to the office, you’ll be able to take some of these tactics and apply them to your spreadsheets and I’ll guarantee you end up turning some heads (hopefully the people that truly matter).

# 1 – Build a Stoplight Feature Using the Wingding Font to Monitor a Project Status

drop down option

You can pretty much use any special Wingding character for this one but I thought it would be fitting to mimic the icon set (stoplight) features that are currently already available in Excel conditional formatting.

This is a great way to visually manage and enhance your spreadsheets for projects statuses, order statuses or pretty much any type of status you can think of in the business world.  You can follow along through the video or simply follow the basic steps below to implement this tactic:

# 1 – Use data validation to create a drop down list of available statuses.

# 2 – In the cell next to your drop down list, insert the stoplight character from the wingding insert menu.

# 3 – Use conditional formatting formula for each status to set the color of the Wingding character to match the corresponding status.

That’s it! 3 steps and you’re done.  Make sure to take a peak at the video for more details.


# 2 – Use “Insert Symbol” with Custom Number Formatting to Visually Enhance Your Data

heat chart

I’ve covered this topic before but it’s well worth running through it again.  Custom number formatting is one of the best ways to visually enhance your spreadsheets.

Using Unicode symbols allows you to copy and paste the symbols into your custom number formatting area so that you can have positive values be displayed with an up arrow and negative values be displayed with a down arrow (of course you can use any other Unicode symbol you’d like).  In this case I use the characters available with the Yu Gothic font.

# 1 – Select any cell on your spreadsheet outside your data set.  Go to the insert symbols in the quick access ribbon.  Find the increase/decrease arrows as show in the screen shot to the left / above into the cell (both the up and down arrow).

# 2 – Copy the symbols that were inserted into the selected cell using CTRL + C. Now select the data set that you’d like to apply the custom number formatting to (see highlighted).

# 3 – Once we’ve selected the data set (type CTRL + 1), this will open the format cells window.  Head down to custom number formatting.  Paste the symbols where necessary in your custom number formatting input box.  Adjust and follow the syntax that I’ve used in the screen shot to the left / above.

If you haven’t done a whole lot of work with custom number formatting, I’ve included a few amazing resources below that you can use to get acquainted with this feature of Excel.



I use custom number formatting all of the time and it’s important to truly understand its functionality to really enhance your Excel Spreadsheets.

Here is one of my favorite guides for beginners on Excel custom number formatting.  It’s great especially when you’re just starting out and it’s also something that you can continue to use as a reference as you become a seasoned user.

The Definitive Guide to Custom Number Formats in Excel by Excel Tactics 

I’ve also compiled a short list of other links that are interesting in their own way and will also show you how you can apply custom number formatting in Excel:

5 Incredible Number Formatting Tricks that Will Impress Your Boss

20 Custom Number Format Disguises from My Online Training Hub

A Technique to Quickly Develop Custom Number Formats from Chandoo

# 3 – Create a Product Review Data Chart in Excel Using the Wingding Font

star icon

Creating a product review in Excel is something that’s fun but in building one, you’ll also realize that you can use some of the same techniques in other aspects of your work or business.

You can use the REPT formula to repeat a specific character a specified numbers of times (in this case stars) based on the review provided for the associated product.  Let’s see how you can do this.

# 1 – Use data validation to create a drop down for each product with a value of 1 through 5.

# 2 – Insert and find the special Wingding star character in a cell using the insert symbol and copy the text value from the formula bar.

# 3 – Use the REPT formula to generate and create the star rating in the last column of your data chart.  Use the screenshot I’ve provided to the left / above.


Clearly the Wingdings font is a useful tool especially when it comes to being able to visually enhance your spreadsheets.  As your skills in Excel mature you’ll be able to think of other ways to use these crazy characters. On the other side, we also have the REPT formula.  This is a great tool for using those Wingding characters.

Let’s have a look at some slick resources that you can use to learn what you can do with this font and this formula:

Wingdings and Webdings Font Icon Sheet from the Spreadsheet Guru

Replace Radar Charts with Tables to Make Comparison Easy from Chandoo 

Dashboarding Fun: Display Smiley Faces in Your Excel Dashboard from Chandoo

Use the Playbill Font to Make Your In Cell Charts More Realistic from Chandoo

Excel Dot Plot Charts for Stock Price from Contextures

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Learn how to apply data validation to your Excel forms – See below.

Data Validation

How are you Going to Use these Special Fonts to Enhance Your Spreadsheets?


Challenge yourself right now to come up with some creative ways to implement some of these visual Excel tactics to your spreadsheets and in your work.

I honestly use these characters often in my Excel dashboards but you can also think about implementing them into timelines or even custom / self made Gantt charts (i.e. clue it has to do with using the REPT formula).

Be sure to leave a comment letting me know how and where you may have used some of these special fonts to enhance your spreadsheets.  I’m seriously looking forward to hearing from you.