Top 10 Books on Excel for Consultants

Websites are good starting points for trouble shooting problems and to watch videos of Excel in action. But sometimes, good old fashioned books are more helpful for fully understanding concepts, with the added bonus of being able to put sticky notes in and highlight important points as well as being available offline. So to create your own essential Excel library, get reading the following books…

1) ‘Excel 2010 All-in-One for Dummies’ By Greg Harvey

Excel is certainly something complicated enough and in need of simple explanation that the Dummies are a useful book to turn to. This All-in-One book contains 8 separate books: Excel basics, worksheet design, formulas and functions, worksheet collaboration and review, charts and graphics, data management, data analysis, and Excel and VBA. If you get a handle on these 8 topics then you’ll have a good starting point to delve into the more complicated subject specific books.

2) ‘Excel 2010 Made Easy’ by Lynn Wright

Aimed at the very beginner and assuming no prior knowledge, this is an essential starter book. Very colourful and simple explanations to follow, the book works it’s way up to basic Pivot Tables. And as recommended by Which? magazine, you can be assured that it has been thoroughly tested and approved by the general public who use it.

3) ‘Microsoft Excel 2013 Bible’ by John Walkenbach

If this is the Excel Bible, then Walkenbach is the Excel God. A fully comprehensive guide to everything about Excel generally as well as all the new features of this newest version of the software such as Sparklines, Flash Fill, and Analysis ToolPak. Includes chapters on VBA for Macros so everything from the basics to the complex is covered here.

4) ‘Learn Excel 2010 Essential Skills with The Smart Method: Courseware Tutorial for Self-instruction to Beginner and Intermediate Level’ by Mike Smart

A good teach yourself guide starting with the basics then moving to improving skills, working with multiple workbooks and formatting for printing. A good basic introduction, but does not move into VBA code for Macros or analysis.

5) ‘The Mr. Excel Library Series’ by Bill Jelen.

This is an excellent series to learn advanced Excel techniques. Of course Bill ‘Mr. Excel’ Jelen is widely known as one of the top Excel gurus in the world so his step by step instructions including real world business examples are highly recommended reading. Titles in the series include ‘Charts and Graphs’, ‘Pivot Table Data Crunching’ ‘VBAs and Macros’ and ‘Business Analysis in Excel 2010’. By pinpointing specific areas and expanding on them, a good range of in depth Excel knowledge is achieved.

6) ‘Slaying Excel Dragons: A beginner’s guide to conquering Excel’s frustrations and making Excel fun’ by Mike Girvin and Bill Jelen

An amusing romp through Excel with the two top Excel masters. Plenty of screenshots and talkative tone makes it not a chore to work through and can easily be combined with the ExcelIsFun and Mr. Excel Youtube content. A really good reference book for the simple answers to commonly asked questions. Definitely worthy of a place on your shelf!

7) ‘The Mr. Spreadsheet Bookshelf Series’ by John Walkenbach

John Walkenbach is known as ‘Mr. Spreadsheet’ so of course friends (or perhaps enemies…?) of Mr. Excel. This series includes some areas not covered by the Mr. Excel Library series such as ‘Dashboards and Reports’ and ‘VBA Programming’ and ‘Fixing Problems in Excel’. A recommended title is ‘101 Excel 2013 Tips, Tricks and Timesavers’ which gives useful general advice for easier operation of Excel.

8) ‘Next Generation Excel: Modeling in Excel for Analysts and MBAs’ by Isaac Gottlieb

An excellent book for the intermediate user that has knowledge of Excel and wants to tailor it to perform analysis tasks. The book covers topics such as financial functions, data mining using Pivot Tables, statistics for non-statisticians, accounting and ‘What-if’ analysis. Isaac Gottlieb has taught Excel skills to some of the top analysts and the approach of the book is on short descriptions coupled with plenty of screenshots rather than long textual descriptions.

9) ‘Excel Basics to Blackbelt: An Accelerated Guide to Decision Support Designs’ by Elliot Bendoly

This has been reviewed as the standard reference book for all analysts and consultants. Excel can be used to assist decision making within an organisation which consultants will often use as part of their solutions for their clients. So to learn how to design such support systems, make your way through this book. Not useful for a beginner of Excel but very useful for a beginner of this more complex use for Excel.

10)  ‘Financial Modeling’ by Prof. Simon Benninga

A second book from really useful guide to financial modeling by combining complex financial theories with the practical Excel skills needed to use them in business. Includes plenty of exercises and a CD ROM with practice workbooks and solutions to the exercises. Definitely for experts – an appendix chapter details the VBA knowledge needed to understand the book.

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