8 Advanced Excel Features Every Accountant Should Use

One accounting tool that every accountant will swear by is MS excel or spreadsheets. This tool truly comes in handy when you have to prepare simple data analysis and evaluate data in a certain pattern.

We are already using it for quite a long time through basic licenses, such as one-time purchases.

Regardless of the advanced tools that we now have, MS excel is here to stay. Multiple accountants still use it even when they have amazing tools like QuickBooks. This is why, in this article, we have discussed the top 10 features of Excel that every accountant should know and utilize. Dive in and start exploring.

8 Excel Features For Accountants

According to a report by Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Function, 63% of companies believe that MS excel is an important accounting software or tool. Especially in small organizations, accounting and finance functions are carried out through MS excel.

Considering this, don’t you think learning advanced excel skills can prove beneficial?

Let’s see 8 advanced excel skills that every accountant should know.

1. Keyboard Shortcuts

Every accountant should know how to utilize the in-built keyboard shortcuts of MS Excel. It makes work easier and reduces the steps you have to go through to achieve a task. In fact, when you are comfortable using shortcuts, you can create your own macros.

Here are some of the most common shortcut keys:

  • CTRL + X, C, V for cut, copy, paste.
  • CTRL + T when you need to insert a table.
  • CTRL + End or Home to go to the last or first cell.
  • Alt + = to automatically sum the numbers.
  • CTRL + SHIFT + L for filters.

There are so many other keyboard shortcuts for Excel, which can be utilized for simpler working. In the latest MS Excel versions, you can also use Alt + Key for various shortcuts.

For instance, when you press Alt + F to go to the File menu.

2. Data Charts

Isn’t it easier to understand and analyze graphics? Wouldn’t you automatically look at a graph rather than watching a table for several minutes? Appealing graphics makes it hassle-free for users to understand data on the graph.

Below are some of the graph types that you can utilize to make attractive visualizations.

  • The line and bar charts to plot data in time series:
  • You can create a plot based on months, weeks, or years. These charts are easy to decipher when we are comparing something. The shortcut keys are Alt + N + L and Alt + N + C for pie chart and bar chart, respectively.
  • The pie chart to plot the percentage of the relevant components:
  • This chart is also useful when you have to show breakup or absolute values. The shortcut key is Alt + N + Q.
  •  The scatter plot is used when you have a few data points, which you can use to find a trend. The shortcut key is Alt + N + D.
  • The trend line can be used in your line, bar, scatter plots. These are used for data interpretation and data relationships.

Excel charts and plots are commonly utilized to make the accounting data more readable for non-technical employees and colleagues, who may not understand accounting terms. Charts make it simpler to traverse through the whole report at a glance.

3. Pivot Tables

When you have lists of data, analyzing it through a pivot table is an optimum route. Using a pivot table, it is possible to manipulate data units and really quickly check scenarios in your data.

Below are the options you have with pivot tables.

You can use pivot tables to select a row, filter, values, and columns. Users can choose an average, count, or sum. You can even create your calculated items and fields for shaping data units.

The shortcut for pivot tables is Alt + N + V.

4. Cell Referencing

Cell referencing is valuable when you are working on formulas in your Excel sheet. For instance, when you have to utilize a cell that has a constant value such as that of pi.

In these cases, you need cell referencing. Here are the options that can be used:

  • You can keep column unfixed but rows constant by putting $ right before the number of the row (Example: B$1).
  • You can keep rows unfixed but columns constant by putting $ before the number of the column (Example: $B1).
  • It is also possible to keep columns and rows constants by putting $ before the number of the column and the row (Example: $B$1).

5. Data Validation

Data validation is an amazing feature when you need to specify the content type of a cell. You can even define whether a cell can hold a value or not.

For example, you can place a data validation on a field mentioning the age of the individual. If the individual tries to enter a word or a character, the input will be termed invalid, and the user will be given an error message to correct the mistake.

Similar to this data validation, there are multiple options like entering data, time, whole numbers, text length, etc. It is also possible to custom make a formula for a cell data validation.

6. What-If Analysis

The what-if analysis contains an array of tools, including goal seek, scenario manager, and data tables.

The scenario manager is known to be the most useful and valuable of the three, given that the user inputs the right variables in various situations. Here, the user has an option to number a scenario and use variables to compare these scenarios.

The goal seek option uses the iteration principle to achieve a requirement. For instance, you have used goal seek to set X’s value as 100 for a certain Y’s value. The aim of the goal seek is to iterate until this value of Y is reached.

The data table is used to see multiple scenarios together, which is great when compared.

This tool goes beyond bookkeeping and accounting by allowing analysts to achieve financial analytics easily.

7. Templates

There’s no need to achieve the same number of steps or go in a loop whenever you use Excel. MS Excel offers a range of templates through its library. These templates can reduce your time and effort spent on excel sheets exponentially.

There are two options for templates:

  • You can utilize the available set of templates, such as amortization schedules.
  • You can also create templates for customized use, such as saving a created sheet in the form of the template.

8. Auditing Formulas

No accounting professional will ever deny the importance of formulas in an Excel sheet. However, in a very large sheet, these formulas can create semantic and other errors, which make the sheet completely useless and erroneous.

An easy shortcut is to find formulas in the auditing toolbar that gives you the ability to utilize error functions to mitigate errors. As discussed, this is extremely beneficial for the larger sheets. However, even smaller sheets can benefit a lot from these auditing formulas.

Some of the options are tracking precedents of formula, locating dependent cells, formula execution, and finding errors.


Of course, we have various valuable advanced tools like <a class="pretty-link-keyword" href="” target=”_blank”>QuickBooks Enterprise that have their own place in the organization. However, the place for MS Excel can never be replaced in any organization when it is about accounting.

This is why we have explained the top 10 features of Excel that can be useful for accountants. Read the above data and start implementing these features in your Excel sheets and reports.


What do you think?

Written by Aditi Tyagi


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