3 Places to Find Help in Excel

AUTHOR:  JASON MORRELL 

Jason Morrell

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In this post you'll discover 3 places to find help in Excel. When you are first starting out, Excel can be very overwhelming and it can be a lonely place. Help is available. You just have to know where to find it.

1. Tell me what you want to do

If you want to find a particular tool or feature,

1.  Single-left-click in the TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT TO DO box towards the top of the screen.

Tell me what you want to do. The first place to find help in Excel

2.  Type in what you need help with, e.g. 'chart', 'formulas’ etc.

Searching for help on how to do a chart

3.  Single-left-click on the result that best matches what you are looking for. You will be taken straight to the appropriate help page.

2. In-program help

  • Single-left-click the Help tab at the top of the screen, then single-left-click the Help icon.
Accessing the in-program help is the second place to find help in Excel
  • Or just press F1.  This is the global help key in most programs.

The Help side bar is displayed.

  • Click a suggested search topic such as Tables & Charts or Formatting etc. then choose the sub-topics and sub-sub-topics that appear.
  • Ot just type what you need help with, then press Enter on the keyboard.
The Help sidebar lets you search by topic, then sub-topic, or type a search phrase directly

If you choose a suggested search topic, a number of sub-topics are listed.

If you choose one of the sub-topics, e.g. ‘Add or remove titles in a chart’ you may see further sub-topics, or you may be deep enough to see the step-by-step instructions that you need …

Choosing a sub-topic may reveal sub-sub topics. Just keep drilling down

… like this.

Eventually you will find the appropriate help in Excel that answers your question

If you ignore the suggested search topics and type your own search phrase6 directly into the search box, you will be given a list of relevant topics.

For example, if you type …

Combo Chart

… the following help topics are displayed in order of relevance:

  • Create a c combination chart
  • Change the chart type of an existing chart
  • Add or remove a secondary axis in a chart in Excel
  • Available chart types in Office
  • Select data for a chart
  • Show more

As you can see, the most relevant results appear at the top of the list.

As for suggested searches you can single-left-click on any link to get step-by-step instructions.

Try typing your search phrase directly into the search box. This is often the easiest way to get the best help in Excel

3. CORTANA

Cortana is your personal assistant. Cortana is Microsoft’s Siri.

You can type in a help request or say, 'Hey Cortana' and if she is listening, she will spring to life and you can verbally ask for what you need help with.

To access Cortana to type in a help request. on the task bar, single-left-click

Use Cortana to get help in Excel via voice control instead of typing

Based on your local calendar, your region and the time of year, Cortana may suggest a couple of fun searches, which you can use or ignore!

Based on your local calendar, your region and the time of year, Cortana may suggest a couple of fun searches, which you can use or ignore!

If you single-left-click in the 'Type here to search' box at the bottom of the window, you can type in anything you wish to search for.

Press Enter on the keyboard.

If you single-left-click in the 'Type here to search' box at the bottom of the window, you can type in the exact thing for which you need help in Excel

If there is an app or utility that matches your search it will be listed.

If there is an app or utility that matches your search phrase, it will appear as a match

Otherwise you will see a list of web results with a magnifying symbol next to them. When you click one of these results, Edge (Microsoft's web browser) will open and from there it's like a regular web search.

When you click any result with a magnifying symbol next to it, Edge (Microsoft's web browser) will open and from there it's like a regular web search. Yet another way to get help in Excel

To use Cortana's speech recognition feature so you can say rather than type your search request:

1.  Single-left-click the Microphone icon on the bottom-right corner of the Cortana window. Or say, "Hey Cortana".

2.  If this the is first time you have used Cortana, she will speak to you and ask you to try saying something.

If this the is first time you have used Cortana, she will speak to you and ask you to try saying something.

3.  If you have previously used Cortana, she will be listening.

If you have previously used Cortana, she will be listening.

4.  Speak your request. Your voice will be converted into text and Cortana will direct your request to the best place.

Speak your request. Your voice will be converted into text and Cortana will direct your request to the best place.

4. Finding help in Excel: Key takeaways

  • For help on where to find a feature or tool with a program, use the TELL ME WHAT TO DO search box at the top of the screen
  • For help on anything, press F1 or single-left-click the Help tab at the top of the screen, then press the Help icon. Click one of the suggested topics or type in your own (and press Enter), then click each sub-topic presented to you until you reach the topic for which you need help in Excel.
  • For voice-activated help use Cortana. To use Cortana, click the Cortana icon on the task bar, or in the Apps list on the Start Menu. Once there, either type in your search topic or click the microphone and speak your search topic.

Please feel free to post any questions you have into the comments below. And before you leave this page, I want to give you one quick little action item! 

ACTION ITEM: Comment below with ONE thing you picked up from this post and share how it has helped, or will help, you. It's good to share your successes because it encourages others and provides an instant boost.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Jason Morrell blog signature
About Jason Morrell

About the author

Jason Morrell


Jason loves to simplify the hard stuff, cut the fluff and share what actually works. Things that make a difference. Things that slash hours from your daily work tasks. He runs a software training business in Queensland, Australia, lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and 4 kids and often talks about himself in the third person!

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