Basic Accounting Skills on Microsoft Excel

Screenshot-Microsoft Excel - Book1 [Photo by Collin Anderson] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bookkeeping and accounting are essential skills for the social entrepreneur.


You need to be on top of the money that goes into your organization – whether it’s grant funding, donations, or profits from sales or services.

You also need to be in charge of what’s going out of your organization – from paying admin costs and employees to advocacy and program expenses.

Using Microsoft Excel For Basic Accounting

The Microsoft Excel spreadsheet has become so popular among businesses that it is now a basic requirement for many accounting and administrative positions. I use it myself and you can also use it for other functions besides accounting.

Excel spreadsheets can be easily emailed and transferred among users to share accounting information because so many companies and individuals use Excel. Other spreadsheet software is usually designed to be compatible with Excel for this reason, and those spreadsheets that are not directly compatible usually contain a conversion option.

Learning Excel is included in the basic accounting curriculum at colleges where students are taught to create professional looking accounting documents using the software. There are also a number of books that give easy-to-follow instructions on how to use Microsoft Excel, such as Learn Excel Essential Skills with the Smart Method: Courseware Tutorial for Self-Instruction to Beginner and Intermediate Level.

Excel formulas greatly reduce the time involved in accounting data input and manipulation. This is especially true for data that is updated frequently. Formulas and macros allow users to easily perform complex calculations such as payroll, cost accounting, and income statements in seconds.

Microsoft Excel Certificate Programs

Many technical schools and community colleges offer basic accounting skills training programs and certificates on Microsoft Excel. For instance, a business skills certificate program will usually include several required Excel courses that are designed to provide students with necessary “hands on skills” for an office work environment.

An introductory Excel course is designed for students with no previous experience with computer spreadsheets and gives a basic overview of functions and features of Excel. The intermediate courses get into the more advanced formulas that are available in Excel, and they cover how to organize and format information in workbooks along with techniques to improve productivity with Excel.

Students in advanced Excel courses learn about presenting data graphically, sorting and grouping data, and filtering data. Other advanced topics include security, hyperlinks, exporting data and embedding Excel worksheets in other applications.

Microsoft Excel in High School Accounting Class

Many students are learning Microsoft Excel basics at an even younger age in their high school accounting classes. This is a great way for business majors and social enterprise majors to prepare for their college accounting classes.

Not only do these classes teach students the basics of accounting, but the background they get in Microsoft Excel can be applied to many other job opportunities as well. Getting hands on experience with the software at such a young age can help many students to visualize what it would be like to be an accountant.

This can help them to make better choices of their career major in college. The skills they learn also have personal benefits as they can apply them to better manage their personal finances. Unlike in the past, most of the assignments in these computer-based accounting classes are done using Excel software rather then written ledgers and textbook-based writing assignments.