Brush up on your Excel Skills

Whether you are thinking about re-entering the workforce or just looking to better organise your home, Excel is an invaluable tool. This program, originally created in 1987, allows you to create and manipulate data spreadsheets. Excel is useful for keeping track of information, creating reports and exporting graphs. Typically, an excel spreadsheet is made up of individual cells arranged in horizontal rows and vertical columns. Within each cell, you will include a piece of data. That data can then be viewed and analysed within the larger dataset based on the row and column it is in.

Excel offers a wide variety of functions, the ability to perform calculations and enable the easy tracking and storage of data. Many working and stay-at-home mums rely on Excel to keep their personal, family and professional lives in order. Whether you want to streamline how your home runs from day-to-day or seek out formal or informal employment, brushing up on your Excel skills is a sure-fire way to get ahead.

There are many ways in which you can use Excel. For many stay-at-home mums, Excel makes organising the day-to-day tasks of life significantly easier. Excel can be helpful for keeping track of daily expenses, such as bill payments, shopping expenditures or income. It can also help sort daily tasks – for example, by creating a chore chart for the children (or the partner!). It can even help with planning for an upcoming holiday or school field trip, as you can easily budget and plan within the program. Excel can also be a useful tool for storing and searching information, such as recipes, books or shopping lists. Regardless of your specific needs, Excel’s adaptability and multiple functions will ensure it fits you and your family’s needs.

Outside the home, Excel can be a useful tool for stay-at-home mums thinking about re-entering the workforce, whether formally or informally. Nowadays, many employers expect employees to be proficient in computer programs, such as Excel. Regardless of the specific industry, knowledge of Excel will always be helpful. For stay-at-home mums considering re-entering the workforce informally, Excel can be a valuable tool to help grow a home business or personal brand. Many mummy bloggers use Excel to track viewers, blog posts or advertising expenditures. Excel is also helpful for keeping track of sales of products, whether that is a homemade product or something like Tupperware or makeup.

For any mum, Excel is a useful and necessary skill. While it may seem daunting at first, there are numerous ways you can strengthen your existing Excel skills and develop new ones. This article outlines some of the key features of Excel all mums should be familiar with, as well as how to get the most from using them.

Excel Basics

Even if you’re familiar with Excel, it can still be helpful to review the basics. Although you may be comfortable creating an Excel spreadsheet, make sure that you are creating your Excel spreadsheet with the right formatting for your needs. Tips for formatting are to pick one font and stick to it. This will help your spreadsheet to look neater and more uniform. Also, consider using italicised or bolded fonts to identify column and row headings or subheadings. You may also manipulate the size of your font to identify a title, heading or subheading. Typically, the larger the font the more important the information is perceived to be and vice versa. For example, you wouldn’t want the title of your spreadsheet to be smaller than the data. Ensuring your spreadsheet has proper formatting will make it easier to navigate and ensure that it looks polished once it is finished.

Excel Shortcuts

Now that you are comfortable creating a spreadsheet, the next thing you should learn is the program’s shortcuts. Learning shortcuts will allow you to navigate Excel easier and faster, saving time as you use the program. For busy stay-at-home mums, these shortcuts can help save critical time when using Excel. Many shortcuts can be used through the keyboard. For example, hold down the ‘Control’ and ‘C’ keys simultaneously to copy text, numbers or images. To paste text, numbers or images, hold down the ‘Control’ and ‘V’ keys simultaneously. If you’ve made a mistake – don’t fret. You can easily undo your last action by simultaneously holding the ‘Control’ and ‘Z’ keys. To automatically insert the current date into a cell, hold down ‘Control’ and ‘:’ to make it appear.

Shortcuts can also be used to navigate your Excel spreadsheet. For example, holding down ‘Control’ and ‘+’ will select the current region; holding down ‘Control’ and ‘Space’ will select the current column; and holding down ‘Shift’ and ‘Space’ will select the current row. You can also use shortcuts to hide parts of your Excel spreadsheet. Use ‘Control’ and ‘0’ to hide the current column and use ‘Control’ and ‘9’ to hide the current row.

You can also use a shortcut to search your excel spreadsheet, which is useful to find specific information. For example, imagine you had an excel sheet of all your daily family expenses and you wanted to find out how much your family spent on a particular day. You can hold down simultaneously the ‘Control’ and ‘F’ buttons to open a search bar in the upper-right corner of your computer screen. In that bar, type the date you are looking for and click ‘Enter’. You will automatically be taken to that date within your excel sheet. This function is also helpful to locate repeat information. For example, imagine you wanted to search the same Excel spreadsheet for any time your family made a purchase related to the groceries. Hold down both ‘Control’ and ‘F’, then type into the search bar ‘groceries’ and click ‘Enter’. Automatically, every use of the word ‘groceries’ will be highlighted in the spreadsheet. By clicking enter, your computer screen will automatically jump from one use of the word to the next. In that way, you can easily navigate to see any time that word is used within your spreadsheet.

Filtering Results

Another way to easily search your Excel spreadsheet is to learn how to filter your results. Excel offers an Auto filter feature, which will quickly and easily filter information for you. To use this function, go to the top of your computer screen and click Data > Filter. You will then be presented with the option to click on options which will automatically filter your spreadsheet by the information you select.

AutoCorrect & AutoFill

To save even more time while using Excel, you must also learn how to use the AutoCorrect and AutoFill functions. AutoCorrect is a feature which will automatically identify and correct misspelled words and grammar errors. Words that are flagged by AutoCorrect will appear on your computer screen as underlined in red. To fix a flagged word, right-click on it. You will then be presented with options of suggested words or a suggested grammatical fix. Simply click on the correct option and it will automatically be updated. AutoFill is another tool that will save you time while using Excel. To use AutoFill, highlight the cell with the data in and the cells next to or underneath it where you want the new data to appear, navigate to the Home tab and in the Editing section click on Fill, then Series. This will allow series, such as a numbered list or a list of dates, to fill-in automatically.

When creating an excel spreadsheet, you may want to include information from a website. For example, if you are a mummy blogger, you may want to convert information about your blog’s views into an Excel spreadsheet. To import data from a website, scroll to the top of your computer screen and click Data>From Web. This will open a New Web Query display window in which you can type or paste an online URL. Copy and paste the URL of the website from which you wish to import data into the display window, then click Import. This will automatically import the data from the website into an Excel spreadsheet.

Manipulating & Exporting

Once you’ve created your Excel spreadsheet and understood the basic commands of Excel, there are many ways in which you can manipulate it or export the data within it. One way you can do this is by creating a chart. There are numerous types of charts you can make in Excel, including column charts, line graphs, pie charts, bar graphs, area graphs and surface graphs. The type of chart you use will depend on the type of data you are working with and how you want it to be displayed. To create a chart, you will first select the data you want included in your chart. To do this, click and drag across the cells you want until they appear shaded. Next, go to the top of your computer screen and click Insert, then go to the Charts section and choose your preferred chart. Automatically, the chart will be created and inserted into your Excel spreadsheet. From there, you can change the layout, style and location of the chart. If you’d like to change the chart’s title, simply double-click the placeholder title and type in your new title.

Another helpful tool for analysing your Excel spreadsheet’s data is the Subtotals command. Image once again that you had a spreadsheet of your family’s expenses each day. Let’s say you want to find out how much your family spent within one particular month. Rather than adding up each of those daily expenses, you can use the Subtotal command. To do so, select the cells you wish to add, then go to the top of your computer screen and click Data>Outline section>Subtotal. This will automatically add up the sums within those selected cells.

In addition to using the pre-set Excel commands, you can also create your own formulas to search and format your data. These cells can help save time by completing addition, subtraction, multiplication or division for you automatically. To create a formula, begin typing in the cell in which you want the answer to your formula to appear. All formulas will begin with the equals sign (=). Then, type the mathematical formula you want Excel to calculate, making sure you are identifying the specific cells you want the formula to calculate with. For example, if you wanted to know the difference between cell A1 and cell C1, you would write =A1-C1. Once the formula is written, click enter. The answer will appear in the cell automatically. When writing a formula, the plus sign (+) represents addition, the minus sign (-) represents subtraction, the asterisk (*) represents multiplication, the slash (/) represents division and the caret (^) represents an exponent.

Once you have created your Excel spreadsheet, you may want to save a copy for yourself or share it with someone else. If you would like your spreadsheet to look more polished and to not be available to change or edit, then you should export it as a PDF. Exporting an Excel spreadsheet as a PDF will also hide any formulas you may have used, instead showing only your data. To do this, go to the top of your computer screen and click File>Save As. Once the window opens to save, click ‘File type’ and select PDF. This will automatically export your excel spreadsheet as a PDF.

Brushing up on your Excel skills will allow you to take advantage of all the functions and tools Excel has to offer. Whether you are working or staying at home, Excel makes the tracking, storing and calculating of data easier and faster. This can help to track family expenses, a budget for an upcoming holiday or schedule children’s after school activities. Excel also is a valuable skill to add on to your CV, as well as an asset in any professional setting. By strengthening your Excel skills through the tips and tricks in this article, you can use Excel to organise and streamline your personal, family and professional life.


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