Learn Top 10 Excel Features



Last week, we had a lovely poll on what are your favorite features of Excel? More than 120 people responded to it with various answers. So I did what any data analyst worth his salt would do,

  • I downloaded all the 120+ comments data
  • I home brewed a large cup of coffee and started gulping it.
  • I started analyzing the comments

So here are the top 10 features in Excel according to you.

Learn top 10 Microsoft Excel features & become awesome

1. Excel Formulas

Writing simple formulas in Excel63 people (50%) said Formulas are their favorite feature in Excel. Of course, you can say, Formulas & Functions are Excel!!! . They are what Excel is made of. But then again, a surprising fact is very few people actually know how to use formulas. Most people would Excel as a glorified notepad or ledger – just to type data. Once you understand the power of formulas, then you can be an irresistible analyst. Your boss & colleagues will be all over you for insights & information, much like the girls in Axe commercials.

Resources to learn Excel formulas:

2. VBA, Macros & automation

55 people said VBA is what makes them use Excel. VBA stands for Visual Basic for Applications, is a special language that Excel speaks. If you learn this language, you can make Excel do crazy things for you, like generate and email monthly reports automatically while you are busy reading this article.

Macros, little VBA programs are what you write to achieve this. Learning VBA can be quite fun, challenging & extremely rewarding experience. Once you learn VBA, suddenly your company will find you invaluable, thanks to all the time & effort you will be saving due to automation.

Resources to learn VBA:

3. Pivot Tables

Excel Pivot Tables53 people said they love Pivot tables. They save you a ton of time, let you create complex reports, charts & calculations all with few clicks. No wonder so many people love them.

Pivot tables are ideal tools for managers & analysts who always have to answer questions like,

  • What is the trend of sales in last 6 months?
  • Who are our top 10 customers?
  • Which button do I press for strong latte?

May be not the last one, but Pivot tables can answer almost any business question if you throw right data at them.

Resources to learn Pivot tables:

4. Lookup Formulas

25 people said lookup formulas (VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH etc.) are their favorite feature of Excel. Lookup formulas help you locate any information in your workbooks based on input criteria. By knowing how to write lookup formulas, you can build dashboards, make interactive charts, create effective models & feel pretty darn awesome.

Resources to learn lookup formulas:

5. Excel Charts

Excel charts help you communicate insights & information with ease. By choosing your charts wisely and formatting them cleanly, you can convey a lot. I guess, most people hate Excel charts (hence it is at 5th position), because they are hard to work with. You can loose a whole afternoon formatting the wedges of a pie chart. But thanks to resources like Chandoo.org, you know better to make a column / bar chart and be done in 5 minutes.

Resources to learn Excel charts:

6. Sorting & Filtering data

If Microsoft ever needs few extra billions of cash, they just have to turn sorting & filtering features in Excel to pay-per-use. These ad-hoc analysis features are so powerful & simple that any aspiring analyst must be fully aware of them.

Resources to learn sorting & filtering features:

7. Conditional formatting

Conditional formatting is a hidden feature in Excel that can make your workbooks sexy. Just add some CF to highlight your data and you will turn boring into interesting. With new features like data bars, color scales & icon sets, conditional formatting is even more powerful.

Resources to learn conditional formatting:

8. Drop down validation & form controls

In-cell drop down boxes to collect user inputs - created using data validationRight from my 3.5 years old daughter to CEO of a company, Everyone loves to be in control. So how can you make your workbooks interactive, so that end users can control the inputs ?

By using form controls & drop down lists of course.

Resources to learn dropdown lists, form controls:

9. Excel Tables & Structural References

Introduction to Excel tables, what are they and how to use them?Excel tables, a new feature added in Excel 2007 is a very powerful way to structure, maintain & use tabular data – the bread and butter of any data analysis situation. With tables, you can add or remove data, set up structural references, connect them to external sources (SQL server, ODBC etc.), add them to data models (Excel 2013 onwards), link them to PowerPivot (Excel 2010 onwards), format automatically, filter & sort with ease and still be out of office before lunch break. It is a pity Microsoft did not call them pixie dust or magic mix.

Resources to learn Excel tables:

10. PowerPivot, Data Explorer & Data Analysis features

PowerPivot - Introduction, what is it and how to use it?Although Excel in itself is quite powerful, it struggles to analyze certain types of data,

  • Combining multiple tables and creating reports from them
  • Processing data from difference sources and getting output to Excel
  • What if analysis, scenarios & optimization

This is where add-ins like PowerPivot, Data Explorer and Analysis toolpak come in to picture. They let Excel do more, just like bat-mobile lets batman kick more ass.

Resources to learn more:

Learn all these features & more in one place

If you are looking to master all these top 10 features (and more) in one place, I highly recommend enrolling in my online classes. These training programs offer a step-by-step, in-depth, practical instruction on all areas of Excel, VBA, Dashboards & PowerPivot so that you can be awesome at your work. Click on below links to learn more.

Or if you prefer face-to-face training & live in USA, you are in awesome luck. I am visiting USA this summer to conduct advanced excel & dashboards masterclasses in Chicago, New York, Washington DC & Columbus OH.

Click here for details & to book your spot.



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23 Responses to “Learn Top 10 Excel Features”

  1. Dwi Budi H says:

    What it looks like if excel without formula?? 🙂

    • philip says:

      It would be not excel it would just be fancy tables in which you could just use power point. (Chandoo) would Access be an alternative?

  2. Roy says:

    Awesome piece of work!!!

  3. Rich says:

    Great article.

    Chandoo - my biggest interest in the article was the awesome word-graphic at the top - where did you go to get it done into a shape?

  4. koushik says:

    Awesome Chandoo.. You need always needs coffee to start up with. BTW , how did u created the Heart Shaped picture filled with High Repetitive text in it .. Please put it on your Next blog ...

  5. Bob Watson says:

    Chandoo, good article. I’ve added a link to it from Connexion – our collection of the most useful and interesting spreadsheet-related articles from the web. See http://www.i-nth.com/resources/connexion

  6. ca.nkv says:


    Just one small question. Where the hell have been I in the past for not discovering this website sooner?

    I've lost a job interview recently where even though I had the subject knowledge, I was not upto their mark in Excel.

    Thank you for all the free tips, guidance and for creating this forum environment.

    [PS: I've just been through the site for the 1st time, and have signed up for the newsletter. You can expect pretty stupid questions from me soon]

  7. William Luke says:

    Hy Chandoo, you always inspire me with to explore something new in excel. This data structure table is only for excel 2007 or compatible to 2010. I recently installed latest excel version 2013 in my System and experience problems regarding operating according to previous one. I'm waiting your article relates to that excel version.


  8. Ankit Bansal says:

    Awesome article Mr. Chandoo and that is a awesome heart shaped pic you created. Great tips as well.

  9. [...] Learn Top 10 Excel Features | Chandoo.org – Learn Microsoft Excel Online. [...]

  10. Arvi says:

    Chandoo is awesome..

  11. Kevin Ko (student major in computer and tech.) says:

    Thanks, i got better, And i always get 90.50 in my grade card but now i get 96.50 i improved because of the tutorials you gave, Thank You Very Much Chandoo Guy.

  12. kiran says:

    Hi chandoo, i am intersted in seeing the video or step by step done procedure of analysing the comments and presenting in the data percentage steps. I think this one would be first step in finding out how generally happens data calculation. Thank you.

    As well i would like to know how to get that black shape art of your face which i see in chandoo. I am interested in making it for me.

  13. l3g4to says:

    Nice to see the features considered by Excel users to be most useful. It might be a good idea to also analyze StackOverflow Excel questions to see what keywords appear most often.

    Here are my top 10 Excel Features (for advanced users):

  14. Nami says:

    Thanks a ton for this it totally helped with my homework ????

  15. pradip says:

    Very good effort

  16. Barb says:

    Thank you for this. Lots of learning in the links you've provided for this septuagenarian.

  17. Arun says:

    Pls send me new post

  18. Abhay says:

    Dude, your humor ? ?
    Loved your work.

  19. Sanjeev Khakre says:

    Hello Sir,

    I am Sanjeev Khakre and i from Indore City, India , I am your big follower and i have watch your videos and learnt a lots of excel trick or function and many more . thanks so much for all of your excellent support.

    Your excel knowledge is real awesome.


  20. Your work is excellent but pls willing to know more details about the features of microsoft excel

  21. philip says:

    Chandoo Would Access be a better alternative than VB?

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