Most helpful positive review
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Invaluable Learning Resource
on 3 April 2015
I have used Excel for many years for basic analytical purposes in the course of a career in engineering with only some brief training at the basic level. Two things prompted me to buy this book: a switch from the 2003 version of Office to the 2010 version (Excel became much more powerful from the 2007 edition) and taking on the task of treasurer for a local charitable organisation.
There are two requirements to get the best out of this book: 1. You do need to have a reasonably good working knowledge of Excel basics (if not you would be best off starting with the 'essential skills' book in this series). There is an appendix in this book summarising the content of the earlier book. 2. You will not benefit much from sitting in an armchair and reading the book or trying from the outset to use it as a quick reference manual: it is all based on practical exercises (with files downloadable from Mike Smart's website) and you do need to be sitting at your PC working through the exercises to get the full benefit of this book.
Strengths of the book:
It is very well designed: the book is broken down into eight main sections with each section comprising a large number of bite-sized practical lessons, typically taking a few minutes each. Each section uses a standard page layout with a main text section describing the exercise and sidebars with additional 'Note', 'Tips' and 'Important' (notes and tips being optional additional information and important sidebars warning of possible pitfalls). A short introductory section clearly explains the design including typographical conventions used.
The order of the main sections broadly covers the more commonly used features early on with more complex and/or less commonly used features later. In many cases the downloadable teaching files are modified during one lesson and then modified further in succeeding lessons. However multiple versions of the files are provided so that in many cases it would be possible to dive into a section halfway through the book and download the teaching file appropriate for that section. Having said that I think the greatest benefit is obtained by working through all sections in the printed order: I found that even in areas with which I was quite familiar I found useful tricks that I wasn't previously aware of.
Once you have worked through the sections that are of interest the book then becomes a useful reference resource, though in some cases you might need to reload the teaching file for the section to remind yourself of the detailed procedures. The book includes a comprehensive index including function names to quickly find the lesson relevant to a particular topic.
The outcome for me of working through this book is that I have discovered tools that I might never have found on my own and have been able to provide my charity committee with a greatly enhanced level of timely information on their finances. It has saved me many hours of time - strongly recommended.