“Never call an accountant a credit to his profession; a good accountant is a debit to his profession.” - Charles Lyell

Are you an accountant or a sole trader who has to do their accounts?

Remember that accounting software can help you save a lot of time and increase your productivity as it can automate certain accounting tasks like invoicing and tax returns.

Excel is also surprisingly useful when it comes to bookkeeping. There are a lot of advantages to accounting software, which is what we’ll be looking at in this article.

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Why Microsoft Excel Is Useful for Accounting

Excel is the spreadsheet software that’s part of the Microsoft Office Suite.

Why should you use Excel for accounting?
Excel is a powerful tool and it's usually cheaper than dedicated accounting software. (Source: Goumbik)

It’s very popular and essential for anyone wanting to do their accounts through spreadsheets.

There are also many other accounting software solutions on the market. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Sage
  • Yourcegid
  • Quadratus
  • Xero
  • QuickBooks

All of these software solutions are used by professional accountants, accountancy firms, and sole traders doing their accounts. However, Excel is still regularly used to keep the books, especially by sole traders and SMEs.

This spreadsheet software can also be used to make graphs, which is very useful if you’re not an accountant by trade and would benefit from seeing the numbers visually represented. Similarly, as it’s part of the Microsoft Office Suite, it's one of the many tools regularly used for commercial accounting, internal accounting, or analytical accounting all over the world.

That’s not all, though. In addition to simplifying the numbers, you can also customise a lot of the options and automate certain tasks like data entry and merging with other files, which can save accountants a lot of time to focus on higher priority tasks.

Furthermore, it’s far cheaper than classic accounting software and you don’t need to purchase extra modules or get more expensive licenses for the software. You can even get licenses that don’t expire, which is great for sole traders and SMEs.

Finally, for working with others, there’s also a SaaS model. You can use the software across all your devices from the OneDrive cloud service.
Excel can also be collaborative. This means that several users can access and work on the same file simultaneously.

Let’s have a look at how it can help you in your everyday accounting.

Find out more about using Excel for accounting

How Can You Use Excel

You’re probably wondering what Excel can be used for. Let’s have a look at what it can do.

How do you use Excel?
With Excel, you can either insert data directly into cells or use functions and formulae to do calculations. (Source: stevepb)

Excel is commonly used in accounting for balance sheets, receipts, expenses, etc. Excel allows you to create a spreadsheet with calculations done automatically within the cells. You can use it to monitor different bank accounts, client accounts, or even annual reporting. After all, when it comes to accounting, you need to be organised. You can easily transfer data between spreadsheets, too.

Here are some of Excel’s best features:

  • Sorting data
  • Merging documents
  • Doing calculations
  • Grouping data
  • Freezing columns or rows
  • Creating graphs
  • Custom formulae
  • Etc.

This is very practical when it comes to accounting, especially for freelancers and sole traders and while it might seem complicated to absolute beginners, it’s quite easy to pick up and use.

You can set up your spreadsheet however you see fit and from there, you can start recording your financial information and accounts.

It can also help you manage inventory and stock, create invoices or quotes, and manage your business’ finances. The possibilities are endless.

Excel is also very useful for your professional life. After all, a lot of jobs require IT skills and an understanding of the Microsoft Office Suite.

If you’re not au fait with this program, you can also get classes on how to use it from a private accounting tutor. There are thousands of accounting and finance tutors on the Superprof website, for example.

Ready to start using Excel?

Check out the best Excel accounting templates

How Excel Can Help You Do Your Accounts

As we know, if you’re learning how to use office software, you’ll need to learn how to use Excel. Let’s see how Excel can be used to make accounting easier.

How can you do your accounts with Excel?
With formulae and templates, there's no reason that sole traders and small business owners can't do their accounts with Excel. (Source: Edar)

It’s great for balance sheets and managing your treasury as you just need to keep a record of earnings and expenses. From there, you’ll be able to see exactly what’s going on in your accounts and if you’re meticulous, you won’t need an accountant.

Excel can also help you by creating a database and can also save you time when it comes to comparing financial figures, making reports, and creating graphs.

Some people are already pretty good at using Excel whereas others might need to learn how to use it. Here are quick tips:

  • Use the “Insert” function to add several rows or columns.
  • Use filters to find data more easily.
  • Delete duplicates of any rows or columns.
  • Format cells according to the data in them (numbers, currency, percentage, etc.).
  • Use Control + Page Up and Control + Page Down to navigate between sheets.
  • Click and drag to duplicate and adapt formulae.
  • Use the “Insert Function” option to find the right operations for your calculations.
  • Use AutoFill and Flash Fill.
  • Add conditional formatting.
  • Add drop-down lists.

As you can see, there are plenty of useful functions in Excel. Whether you’re an expert or new to Excel, there’s always something you can learn and you might be surprised at just how powerful this software can be.

Learn how to start accounting with Excel

Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

Even as you get used to Excel, it’s still one of the most complicated programs in the Microsoft Office Suite. Make sure you get the most out of it.

Which are the most useful Excel keyboard shortcuts?
To save even more time, memorise a few useful keyboard shortcuts. (Source: Tumisu)

Here are keyboard shortcuts to speed things up:

  • “Control + S” - Save
  • “Control + ;” - Insert the date
  • “Control + :” - Insert the time
  • “F9” - Recalculate
  • “F5” - Go to
  • “Control + Space” - Select an entire column
  • “Shift + Space” - Select an entire row
  • “Control + A” - Select all
  • “Control + Alt + V” - Smart paste
  • “Alt + =” - Automatically insert a sum
  • “Control + F1” - Hide the ribbon
  • Select every file you want open and press enter.
  • “Control + Tab” - Navigate between files.
  • “Control + F” - Find
  • “Control + Arrow keys” - Move quickly between cells
  • “=” - Access functions.

Discover Excel's best features and functions

Now you should be ready to get started with Excel and the more you practise, the simpler the software will seem. Practice makes perfect, after all. Furthermore, it’s a skill that always looks good on your CV so don’t hesitate to learn how to use it.

Hopefully, this has taught you a bit about using Excel for accounting. Whether you use it every day or just for your tax returns, make sure you get the most out of this powerful piece of software. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use it, consider getting help from a private tutor. After all, Excel skills are useful in many different lines of work.

If you're interested in learning more about Excel, accounting, or finance, consider getting in touch with some of the talented and experienced private tutors on the Superprof website.

There are plenty of private tutors all over the country and around the world offering tutoring either face-to-face, online, or in groups. Since each type of tutoring comes with its advantages and disadvantages in terms of learning approach and cost, think carefully about which will be best for you and your goals.

Face-to-face tutoring allows the tutor to focus fully on their student and also allows them to tailor their lessons to the student. Of course, this bespoke service comes at a cost and one-on-one tutoring tends to be more expensive than the other types available. However, it's usually the most cost-effective since the tutor will spend every minute of every session working with their student.

Group tutorials are great for those on a budget as you can share the cost of the tutoring with the other students in attendance. While group tutoring isn't as tailored as one-on-one tutoring, it can be useful for those who learn well from their peers or prefer a more social atmosphere while they learn.

If you can't find any suitable or available tutors in your local area, you can always broaden your search to include online tutors. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, you can learn almost anything from private tutors all over the world. With academic subjects like economics and finance or computer-based subjects like IT and using Excel, online tutorials can be just as effective as face-to-face tutoring.

Excel is a powerful tool and with the right tutor, you too can learn how to get the most out of it for your accounting.

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