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Spreadsheets: Free to Learn

No-cost tutorials, instruction, and advice are only a few keystrokes away.

You don’t need a spreadsheet to calculate the cost of the wide array of Web-based spreadsheet instruction and support resources that are available: Most are available gratis. Here’s a rundown of some of the best free sites out there, with their strengths and weaknesses.

1) Joseph Rubin’s ExcelTip.com (www.exceltip.com)

Arguably the most popular online resource for Excel support is ExcelTip.com. The site, which claims to register over eight million hits per month, allows users to search for Excel advice and shortcuts by category. The site also features the “Excel Tip of the Hour” (such as converting time values from one time zone to another) as well as a forum in which users can exchange thoughts, seek support and help fellow spreadsheet users. Joseph Rubin, ExcelTip.com’s founder, is a CPA with more than 25 years of experience as a CFO and controller. Rubin has also run his own CPA practice.

2) Allen Wyatt’s Excel Tips (exceltips.vitalnews.com)

Allen Wyatt, an Excel expert and author, runs a site that includes more than 1,700 spreadsheet-related articles and tips categorized across scores of topic areas, such as add-ins, charts, conditional formatting and pivot tables. Visitors can also subscribe to a pair of RSS feeds that will deliver daily and weekly Excel advice directly to their computers. The site’s depth, practical advice and clear and coherent explanations combine to make it the No. 2 pick.

3) MrExcel.com (www.mrexcel.com/articles.shtml)

Site visitors will find over 500 Excel-related articles created by MrExcel.com and various other Web sites. The items cover a wide range of topics and are organized by category. Visitors can learn how to add a trendline in three clicks, how to create a better chart, or how to automatically add a character to a cell. The site also includes various Excel add-ons collected from across the Web.

4) MIStupid.com (mistupid.com/tutorials/excel)

While most Excel-related Web sites offer only static text and graphics, MIStupid’s elegant step-by-step tutorials come in the form of audio-supported animations. The approach helps make complex and tricky topics, such as concatenating cells, something that’s really not stupid at all. The downside is that the site features only 16 tutorials, as opposed to the dozens or even hundreds of tips and examples provided by the other sites on this list. On the other hand, the 16 tutorials are very good.

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