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Excel Modeling for Professionals: Best Practices & Pitfalls

Delft University of Technology
 and Erasmus University Rotterdam via Coursera


What sets this Excel course apart is that we don’t focus on quick fixes or specific tips and tricks. This course is for those who already understand Excel. The aim of the course is to elevate Excel models, to improve clarity, longevity, and transferability of these models, and to reduce mistakes and to encourage consistency in businesses as they work with Excel.

Through this Excel course learners will gain the tools to decide whether or not to use Excel to solve their problem. They will learn how to set up good input data, format correctly, and the importance of good documentation. Learners will gain the ability to discern between different functions, to understand the pitfalls and strengths of commonly used functions, and to apply correct functions to their Excel models. Those that follow the course will also gain understanding of logical spreadsheet structure, graphs and reporting, and protection and hidden information in Excel, and users will learn how to apply these things to their own models. Finally users will get practical tips and steps for the finalization of a model, the automated checks, the manual run through, and general testing that one should do to ensure that their Excel model is accurate and complete.


  • A Foundation for Better Spreadsheets
    • In this module you will learn about this course and course aims. You will be given tools to determine whether or not there are better solutions for a certain task than Excel. You will learn how to organize your input data according to best practices. You will learn how to differentiate between good and bad formatting in Excel, and you will receive some practical tips on how to improve your own formatting. Finally you will be able to define documentation in Excel, and learn how to apply good documentation to your own Excel models.
  • Good Use of Formulas and Functions
    • This week is about the lifeblood of Excel: the functions and formulas. You will learn how you can apply functions and formulas to your Excel models responsibly, how you can discern between functions to choose the ones that work best for you in a particular scenario, and how you can understand and explain the strengths and weaknesses of different Excel functions.
  • Spreadsheet Structure and Logical Flow
    • In this module you will learn how to build up a spreadsheet with a logical structure and flow, you will get some great tips on keeping your models simple, and you will learn about the dangers and effectiveness of protected and hidden information in Excel. Essentially you will gain the tools to make your spreadsheets safer and more understandable for your colleagues/clients.
  • Finishing Touches
    • In this final module you will learn about the final things to do in a spreadsheet. You will discover what the result of a fully optimized spreadsheet looks like, which checks you can build in to ensure correct results, and you will gain the skills for last minute checks in your model to ensure the final result is correct. The checking and testing process is incredibly important. Use this module to learn more about that process and apply it to your own work in Excel.

Taught by

Jan Karel Pieterse, Jan Stoop and Felienne Hermans

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