Welcome to the Microsoft Excel essentials module. This module covers some of the key features of Microsoft Excel through the simple example of using an Excel workbook to plan for a party. The idea is that you can then apply these same concepts to any workbooks of your own, including much larger ones. Where possible, the instructions provided are general so they can apply to whatever version of the software you have; however these instructions and screenshots specifically apply to Excel 2016 on a Windows 10 operating system. If you find that the instructions differ from your version of Excel, you can use the Help box in Excel to search for the option you need. For detailed instructions on any of the topics covered (or anything else not covered), remember Google is your friend and other guides can usually be found online.

If you have any questions about this module, please contact Library-UniSkills@curtin.edu.au

What you will learn

  • Some common ways to format your Excel workbook (skip to Document formatting)
  • How to make use of AutoFill, Flash Fill and Text to Columns to save you time when creating sequences, editing and reorganising data (skip to Data formatting)
  • How to sort and filter your data (skip to Sorting & filtering)
  • How to write formulas and simple functions to perform calculations using your data (skip to Formulas & simple functions)
  • How to transpose data (i.e. swap data from rows to columns) (skip to Transposing data)
  • How to use the VLOOKUP function to search for one value and return another related value (skip to VLOOKUP)
  • How to organise and analyse data using PivotTables (skip to Pivot tables)
  • How to display data in simple charts (skip to Creating charts)
  • Some common Excel shortcuts (skip to Shortcuts).


The information in this module is split into pages covering the topics above. You may choose to work through the entirety of the module in the order provided, or you may wish to jump to certain pages or sections of the module. Note that if you are working through the entire module, including the Document formatting page, you should download and use Party_Budget_Workbook_1. If you are just working through certain pages or sections, and/or do not want to format the workbook, you should download and use Party_Budget_Workbook_2.

The PDF below is a printable version of this guide, which you can download and refer to later.