The Way We Work
May 5, 2009 by Henry Walker

So you want to master Microsoft Excel, but don’t know where to start? Do terms like Array Formula, VLOOKUP, User Defined Functions, ODBC, VBA and PivotCharts make you cringe? Is the transition from Excel 2003 to Excel 2007 giving you a double migraine headache? Have no fear! There is a vibrant community of Excel Experts online, who are willing to take you under their wing…you just have to know where to look! We’ve compiled the top 10 places online to find help and get trained for free.

1. Mr. Excel Message Boards

The mother of all Excel Help Forums, Mr. Excel has gathered quite a following over the years. With most of the top Excel “power users” from around the world hanging out in these forums, you’re bound to get your questions answered directly, or find that they have already been answered in their vast archives of previous threads. Just be mindful of posting your questions in the proper format (read the posting rules); Message Board types don’t take too kindly to newbies not following the rules. Also check out their fantastic archive of Excel Video Tutorials

2. Ozgrid.com Forums

Ozgrid.com’s Forums have a lively community of Excel Experts ready to answer your questions. If you see an ozgrid.com post while searching google for excel information, you can usually be assured that it is a quality thread. Ozgrid is exceptionally good at VBA programming-related questions.

3. Experts-Exchange

Experts-Exchange is the cream of the crop. The site is set up in a question/answer format. Users can post questions, and Experts can post answers. The user then selects the best answer (much like Yahoo! Answers, but Tech-focused). All previously answered questions are searchable. Experts Exchange is unmatched in their quality of content, and is the go-to place for obscure questions that can’t normally be answered anywhere else. We would have ranked Experts-Exchange #1 if it wasn’t for one thing, you have to register for the site and either pay a monthly fee, or contribute “answers” on a regular basis to keep your account active. Many a frustrated Excel novice will tell you that Experts-Exchange is no good, but that is because only the questions are viewable to the public, not the answers. Suck it up and register for the site, answer a few questions for people that are more of a novice than you, and save yourself the monthly fee.

4. Microsoft’s Official Excel 2003 Training Site / Microsoft’s Official Excel 2007 Training Site

Yes, that’s right…Microsoft actually provides some things for free. The online training modules offered on Microsoft’s websites are top notch. With hundreds of videos, podcasts and tutorials, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Many of the tutorials are a little on the easy side, but the quality is fantastic.

5. Jon Peltier’s Site

Jon Peltier is a Certified Microsoft MVP for Excel. He probably knows more than anyone on the planet about Excel, and fortunately he’s willing to share his knowledge with us. Currently, there are only 90 people ever granted the title of Excel MVP by Microsoft, so you can see how important of a designation it is. Check out the chart tutorials; they’re a little more advanced, but some pretty amazing stuff, especially if you design corporate dashboards.

6. AllExperts.com Forums

AllExperts is a simple, mostly text-based site that follows the question & answer format. They have hundreds of users waiting to answer your questions.

7. PCreview.co.uk Forums

Based in the United Kingdom, PCreview offers a sleek, traditional Message Board interface and an unusually high volume of posts which translates into faster response times to your questions.

8. Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) Excel Blog

Keep abreast of the latest MS Excel news straight from the horse’s mouth. Another valuable, free service offered by Microsoft.

9. YouTube

Believe it or not, YouTube has many high quality tutorials. If you’re a visual learner, this is an indispensable tool.

10. Google

When in doubt, google it! Learn how to do advanced google queries to help you find what you need faster.

Need number crunching, but don’t have time to do it yourself? oDesk has 21,718 excel professionals that can help you out. The number of excel jobs per month has been steadily rising over the past 12 months.

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Did we miss one of your favorite Excel resources? Let us know in the comments below!

feature image by Craig Chew-Moulding on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)