Free Basic Skills Tutorial

Instantly download the world’s most popular free Excel tutorial.

  1. Identify the Excel version you are using.
  2. Click on the matching book cover for full book details and a link to instantly download the e-book.

Current Windows versions

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For Windows
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For Windows
Book Cover - Learn Excel 2016 Basic Skills with The Smart Method
For Windows

Current Mac versions

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For Apple Mac
2019 basic
For Apple Mac

The FREE books are provided as PDF files

If you purchase our Essential Skills e-book (that also includes the Basic Skills material) you’ll be able to use Amazon’s sophisticated e-book reader.  Click here to find out more about this advanced e-book format.  The FREE books are provided in the industry-standard PDF format that can be read in any modern browser.

Excel 2007, 2010 and 2013

We strongly recommend that you learn to use Excel using a modern version and no longer support these older retired versions.  You can, however, still purchase Excel 2013 books from Amazon and most other online sellers and can also purchase the Excel 2013 video courses from Vimeo.

Why you should use this free e-book

  • It is free (and you can print it). Because this book is provided free of charge, schools, colleges, universities and businesses are able teach their students best-practice Excel skills without the substantial cost of designing lesson plans or purchasing books. If printed copies are needed you can print them yourself, or any copy shop can print books for you.
  • Smart Method books are #1 best sellers. While this e-book is entirely free of charge, every paper printed Smart Method® Excel book (and there have been twenty-two of them starting with Excel 2007) has been an Amazon #1 best seller in its category. This provides you with the confidence that you are using a best-of-breed resource to learn Excel.
  • Learning success is guaranteed. For over fifteen years, Smart Method courses have been used by large corporations, government departments and the armed forces to train their employees. The book is ideal for teaching or self-learning because it has been constantly refined (during hundreds of classroom courses) by observing which skills students find difficult to understand and then developing simpler and better ways of explaining them. This has made the book effective for students of all ages and abilities.
  • It is the book of choice for teachers. As well as catering for those wishing to learn Excel by self-study, Smart Method® books have long been the preferred choice for Excel teachers as they are designed to teach Excel and not as reference books. Books follow best-practice adult teaching methodology with clearly defined objectives for each learning session and an exercise to confirm skills transfer. With single, self-contained lessons the books cater for any teaching period (from minutes to hours).
  • No previous exposure to Excel is assumed. You will repeatedly hear the same criticism of most Excel books: “you have to already know Excel to understand the book”. This book is different. If you’ve never seen Excel before, and your only computer skill is using a web browser, you’ll have absolutely no problems working through the lessons. 
  • It focuses upon the everyday Excel skills used in the workplace. This free Basic Skills book will teach you the basics without confusing you with more advanced, less used, Excel features. If you decide to expand your Excel education, you’ll be able to move on to other Smart Method® books (or e-books) in this series to master even the most advanced Excel features.
  • It provides a clearly defined route to become a true Excel guru. If you later decide that you’d like to become a true Excel guru, we also have Essential Skills and Expert Skills books in this series that will teach you very advanced features such as Power Pivot, Power Query (Get & Transform), Power Maps (3-D Maps) and OLAP multi-dimensional modeling that very few Excel users understand

Hardly anybody understands how to use every Excel feature

It is important to realize that Excel is probably the largest and most complex software application ever created. Hardly anybody understands how to use every Excel feature, and for almost all business users, large parts of Excel’s functionality wouldn’t even be useful.  

Many learners make the fundamental error of trying to learn from an Excel reference book that attempts to document (though not teach) everything that Excel can do. Of course, no single book could ever actually do this. There are some single advanced Excel features (such as Power Pivot, Power Query/Get & Transform and DAX) that have had entire 500+ page books devoted to them). For most Excel business users, it would clearly be a waste of effort to attempt to master these highly technical subjects (though you can, if you have the time and inclination, master these skills using our Expert Skills book). 

This free Basic Skills book will teach you the basic Excel skills that are used every day, in offices all over the world. 

By the end of this free Basic Skills book you’ll be completely comfortable creating your own formulas and will be able to make use of the functions available in Excel’s vast function library. You’ll also have mastered many other fundamental Excel skills such as AutoSum, AutoFill and Formula Autocomplete. You’ll be confident in the knowledge that you are using Excel’s features in the correct, best-practice, professional way and you’ll feel really at home with Excel.

Excel competence levels

Basic skills, Essential Skills, Expert Skills progression

Office workers who use Excel every day for a living generally only use (and only need) a tiny fraction of Excel’s enormous feature set. 

Excel is a huge application with thousands of features. For most users it is a mistake to attempt to learn every Excel feature but, instead, to learn Excel to a competence level that is appropriate for your needs. 

If you decide to further expand your Excel education, you’ll be able to use the other books in this series to master even the most advanced Excel features.

Basic Skills

This is where you will be at the end of this book. You’ll feel really comfortable with Excel. Even at Basic Skills level you’ll have mastered many skills that most untrained Excel users are unable to use correctly. You’ll also be using the correct professional techniques rather than “muddling though” in the way that most self-taught Excel users do. You’ll be able to create your own formulas using functions from Excel’s vast function library and have a complete mastery of fundamental Excel features such as AutoFill, Flash Fill and Formula Autocomplete.

Essential Skills

At this level you will have excellent Excel skills, good enough to impress any employer, and your Excel skills will be better than most office workers (even those with many years of experience). You’ll be able to create beautifully laid-out worksheets that will really impress. You’ll also have mastered many advanced features that few Excel users understand such as absolute and relative cell references, visualizations, advanced charts, conditional formatting, date serial numbers, themes and cloud computing

Expert Skills

At Essential Skills level you’ll be really, really good with Excel. If you want to join the tiny elite of power-users who can do absolutely everything with Excel you can use this follow-on book to move to expert level and become a true Excel guru.

This is a extremely high level of Excel competence that is very rarely found in the workplace (even amongst top professionals). Your Excel skills will be greater and broader than almost all other Excel users and you will understand (and be able to use) absolutely every Excel feature. 

You’ll have a complete mastery of skills that are often even a mystery to Excel power users such as OLAP, Power Pivot, Power Query (Get & Transform), Power Maps (3-D Maps), Data Modeling, DAX, Linked Data Types and Dynamic Arrays. 

Learn Excel in just a few minutes each day
(or in one five-hour sitting)

We’ve helped over 2 million students to learn Excel. If you carefully work through this free book there is absolutely no doubt that you will master Excel 365 fundamentals.

Excel is a huge and daunting application and you’ll need to invest some time in learning the skills presented in this book. This will be time well spent as you’ll have a hugely marketable skill for life. With 1.2 billion users worldwide, it is hard to imagine any non-manual occupation today that doesn’t require Excel skills.

This book makes it easy to learn at your own pace because of its unique presentational style. The book contains 46 simple, self-contained lessons and each lesson only takes a few minutes to complete. 

You can complete as many, or as few, lessons as you have the time and energy for each day. Many learners have developed Excel skills by setting aside just a few minutes each day to complete a single lesson. Others have worked through the entire book in less than five hours.