How to Teach Microsoft Excel

by Christopher Capelle
Images 1, 2, 4: Chris Capelle, Images 3, 5:

Excel is a spreadsheet program, available for both Windows and Macintosh computers, and is part of Microsoft Office, one of the most popular and iconic software packages. Excel allows users to create all sorts of formulas, macros and graphs, giving the program great functionality. Teaching Excel can be challenging, mostly because Microsoft throws in more bells and whistles with every new version.

Step 1

Your Excel spreadsheet

Make sure the student is familiar with basic computer functions. There's no point in trying to teach someone about toolbars and formulas when they're not even sure what a right-mouse-click is.

Step 2

Structure your syllabus so that all of the important things are clearly defined first. It won't help to teach about formulas when they don't know what a column is. These topics include the physical attributes (rows, columns, cells and worksheets), simple functions (selecting, importing, adding and deleting cells) and multiple worksheets.

Step 3

Give your students hands-on assignments

Start with the basic commands, and then teach the students the commands that are on the toolbar, and how to customize the toolbar. Formatting the cells (font, color, size, borders and alignment) should also be covered here.

Step 4

A pie chart, created in Excel

Demonstrate how to use the graphing feature, pivot tables and advanced calculations. Students should also know how to link spreadsheets, how to create different types of charts, and about cell referencing (both relative and absolute).

Keep your lessons interesting

Finally, touch on some of the advanced features of Excel. These include forecasting for trend analysis, customizing worksheets and advanced macros.


  • Teaching too much at once can be overwhelming.


  • It's better to break the lessons into smaller chunks of time. Six one-hour lessons are more effective than two three-hour sessions.

Photo Credits

  • Images 1, 2, 4: Chris Capelle, Images 3, 5:

About the Author

Christopher Capelle is a freelance copywriter with over two decades of experience. Subjects of his writing include the business and technology fields, consumer products and home repair/improvement. He graduated from The University of Connecticut and earned a master's degree in journalism from Iona College.

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