So you have decided to up your game with Excel and / or Power BI this year and now ravenously looking for books to read. You have come to the right place. Here is my list of recommended best Excel books, and books on Power BI, visualization, dashboards, VBA, Macros and analytics.
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Best Excel Books
Excel 2016 Bible by John Walkenbach
If you are new to Excel or have used it for a while, you can’t go wrong with John’s tome. This 1,100 page tome covers everything from getting started with Excel to some nifty advanced use cases. It is a good reference book to have on your desk or in the team library. Despite its size, this is an easy read.
Microsoft Excel Data Analysis & Business Modeling by Wayne Winston
I bought Wayne’s book in 2013 (same book, for Excel 2013) to learn all about how to apply business modeling, analytics and statistical analysis techniques in Excel. This is a very practical and insightful book and a must have for anyone working in advanced analytics, reporting, modeling or optimization space.
Data Smart by John Foreman
Data Smart teaches all about data science, machine learning, statistical analysis and business optimization and then shows you how to implement fancy algorigthms using Excel. I recommend this book to anyone in the space of analytics or reporting. John has excellent penmanship and wicked sense of humor. You will find it hard to put down this book. I read and re-read this book several times.
Best books on data & visualization
Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
This book is on my to-read list. Many of us are in the profession of story telling and communication. Working with data and coming up with effective storytelling is vital for our success. Storytelling with Data gives you that guidance and makes you a better professional.
Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few
Stephen Few’s classic book on dashboard design is what helped me become an expert in making awesome dashboards. I have the previous edition of his book and refer to it every now and then when I need some inspiration or smack on the back for going with a stupid design. Read it cover to cover and implement as much as you can.
Best Power BI Books
Now things get tricky. Power BI is a rapidly evolving software. So any book on it, is bound to be outdated in a month’s time. I learned all my Power BI by experimenting, reading blogs and watching YouTube videos. That said, Power BI is not one software. It is a combination of three different tools:
- Power Query to process and clean data
- Power Pivot for modeling & analyzing data
- Power BI Visuals for creating outputs
I think parts 1 & 2 of Power BI puzzle (Power Query & Power Pivot) are the hardest things to learn. This is where books can help you tremendously. Since you will be learning the technique and language more than screen features, a book on Power Query or Power Pivot tends to have longer shelf life. So keep this in mind where reading my book recommendations.
Beginning Power BI by Dan Clark
Power BI is a new & rapidly changing technology. Hence, getting a reliable book on it is hard. Someone recommended this to me and I find the topics quite relevant and useful for a new Power BI user.
Power Pivot and Power BI by Rob Collie & Avi Singh
Rob & Avi do a good job of explaining Power BI & Power Pivot for traditional Excel users. If you are coming from Excel background and want to learn Power BI, pick up this book. Get the kindle copy as this uses eTextbook format which works very well on your tablet or PC.
Learn to write DAX by Matt Allington
DAX can be very daunting and gnarly when you are getting started. I find Matt’s book approachable and elegant. This will help you overcome your fear for DAX and make useful calculations out of your data. Use it to take your reporting to next level.
M is for (Data) Monkey by Ken Puls & Miguel Escobar
This cheekily named guide will help you navigate the murky, unexplained waters of Power Query. That said, the book is 3 years old, so it is WAY behind times when it comes to what is new & better in Power Query. Microsoft has rapidly changed what & how of Power Query in the last 18 months and some of the techniques in the book feel outdated. Nevertheless, a good book to have. Get the kindle version, that way if Ken decides to upgrade the book, you will have new content for free.
The Definitive Guide to DAX by Marco Russo & Alberto Ferrari
The Italians book is gold standard when it comes to writing ninja level DAX. Unfortunately, this book is not what you need if you are a beginner. Start with either Matt’s book or Rob’s book and graduate to this one. It will help you understand inner workings of DAX and make it your genie to pull of awesome magic from your data.
Best Excel VBA & Macros books
Excel VBA Programming for Dummies by John Walkenbach
John’s book is the must have if you want to learn VBA programming in a comprehensive, clear way. It comes with many practical exercises, tips & best practices. I have the 2010 version of this and it helped me immensely when I was learning VBA programming.
Excel 2016 Power programming by Mike Alexander & Richard Kusleika
Mike & Dick are known for their generosity and creativity in Excel space, naturally this become reflects that. It is a treasure trove of good tips, examples and code base.
My *own* books
Hey, I am an author too. I like to toot my horn once in a while. So if you are looking for books to polish your skills, consider these two.
PS: I am in the middle of writing my first Power BI book. This will be a beginner’s guide to everything Power BI. Watch out for an announcement about this.
The VLOOKUP Book by Chandoo
Learn everything from simple vlookup to complex INDEX, MATCH combinations in one book. Don’t be fooled by the name. This one goes beyond VLOOKUP and teaches you many powerful formula techniques when it comes to looking up data.
Excel Dashboards Book by Chandoo & Jordan Goldmeir
Create powerful, insightful and effective business dashboards using this handy guide. Learn all about charting best practices, VBA driven automation and more in this book. Also learn how Power Query and Power Pivot can revolutionize your workbook’s calculation engine.
What is your favorite Excel or Power BI Book?
Of course this list won’t be complete without your recommendation. So tell me dear reader, what is your favorite Excel or Power BI book? Post your answers in the comments section.
Note about the links in this page:
I am using my Amazon affiliate links in this post when recommending the books. That means, if you click on the links and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. This has no impact on my recommendation. I have personally read most of the books and recommend them even if there is no commission involved.