Often when I’m working with someone, showing off my Excel tricks, I am asked, “How do you know all that stuff?” And the answer is simple: I’ve been using Excel for around 25 years, Excel charts for all that time, and Excel VBA for 20 years. There’s a combination of natural curiosity (“what does this button do” and “how do I do that”), and reading manuals (in the days before online help), and becoming good at Google. And there are a thousand Excel books that claim to teach you everything about Excel.
A small selection of my Excel book collection. My copy of RibbonX is falling apart!
I’ve decided to put together a list of good Excel books, to make it easy for people to find these resources. This is not a comprehensive list of all Excel books. Instead, it is a list of some of the books that I have found helpful. I know most of the authors of these books, but I also know authors of books not included here. Books not listed are not omitted because they are bad, necessarily, but just because I am limiting the size of this article.
A couple authors may seem overrepresented here. Both are comprehensive in their approach, and they cover a range of topics and levels of difficulty. John “Mr Spreadsheet” Walkenbach has been writing about spreadsheets since before Excel was a thing, and for each version of Excel that is released, there is a family of Mr Spreadsheet books on an array of topics. You really can’t go wrong with one of the Mr Spreadsheet family of books. John doesn’t do all of the writing anymore, but he has enlisted knowledgeable co-authors to maintain the tradition. Bill “Mr Excel” Jelen runs the best Excel forum in the known universe and has his own popular series of Excel books. I know both of these experts, and I like their books. Like John, Bill also has used experts to help with the writing tasks.
I may expand this list in the future, maybe to add books to the existing categories, but mostly to add more categories. For example, I have not listed any books that discuss the new data technologies of Excel (Power Pivot etc.). For now I will concentrate on general Excel topics, VBA, and charting. Note that the links here are all Amazon Affiliate links, so if you purchase any of these Excel books, I will get a small commission.
General Excel Books
Excel 2016 Bible by John Walkenbach – This is the most comprehensive, and heaviest, Excel book you will find anywhere. It covers everything about Excel in extensive detail. Formulas, charting, data analysis, formatting, and programming.
Learn Excel 2007 through Excel 2010 From MrExcel by Bill Jelen – While not as extensive as the Excel Bible, this is a very good all-around resource.
Excel Formulas, etc.
Excel 2016 Formulas by Michael Alexander and Dick Kusleika – If the Excel Bible was so comprehensive, then why did John Walkenbach need a book about Excel formulas? This book covers formulas in more depth, formulas in defined Names, formulas in Conditional Formatting, financial formulas, array formulas, and user defined functions that use VBA.
Ctrl+Shift+Enter – Mastering Excel Array Formulas by Mike “Excel Is Fun” Girvin – Mike turns you on to the magic of array formulas in this book, with the same irreverent approach as you’ve seen in the popular ExcelIsFun YouTube channel.
Excel Tables: A Complete Guide for Creating, Using and Automating Lists and Tables by Zach Baresse and Kevin Jones – This book takes away the mystery of Tables (a/k/a Lists, the best feature introduced in Excel 2003), and helps you with filtering and sorting, using Tables’ structured references, and much more.
Excel Pivot Tables
Excel 2016 Pivot Table Data Crunching by Bill Jelen and Michael Alexander – A comprehensive volume about building, formatting, and modifying pivot tables, with sections on Power Query for working with your input data, and VBA for automating the finished product.
Beginning PivotTables in Excel 2007: From Novice to Professional by Debra Dalgleish and Excel 2007 PivotTables Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach by Debra Dalgleish – Two books from my favorite pivot table expert, the first with beginner to expert coverage, and the second with many helpful examples to get you started or get you over the hump.
Excel VBA Books
Excel 2016 Power Programming with VBA by Michael Alexander and Dick Kusleika – This book starts with recording macros, progresses through cleaning up recorded code, and leads to designing and writing your own code. It teaches about the tools built into the VB Editor, and covers topics like application and add-in development, VBA language features, and UserForms (custom dialogs).
Excel 2016 VBA and Macros by Bill Jelen and Tracy Syrstad – This is another extensive volume about using VBA in Excel. It covers macros, VBA-enhanced workbooks, and full-blown add-in applications.
RibbonX: Customizing the Office 2007 Ribbon by Robert Martin, Ken Puls, and Teresa Hennig – If your VBA project needs a user interface, this book is required reading. This is the book I still use the most; the cover has fallen off and a few pages are loose. It covers all you need to know about the XML code that drives the Microsoft Office ribbon, and about the VBA that supports the XML.
Professional Excel Development: The Definitive Guide to Developing Applications Using Microsoft Excel, VBA, and .NET (2nd Edition) by Rob Bovey, Dennis Wallentin, Stephen Bullen, and John Green – When you are ready to create commercial quality add-ins, this book picks up from the others, and makes you a pro. Chapters on dictator applications, Windows APIs, error handling, controlling other Office programs, and localization give you things you can’t find anywhere else.
Excel Charting Books
Excel 2007 Charts by John Walkenbach and Excel 2013 Charts and Graphs by Bill Jelen – These books cover the basic charting topics, such as how to create a chart, chart types, chart data, and formatting. They work through advanced topics, such as statistics, pivot charts, and best practices. And they finish with detailed sections about automating charts with VBA.
Creating More Effective Graphs by Naomi Robbins – This is not an Excel book, but it provides great insights into how to present your data effectively.
Data at Work: Best practices for creating effective charts and information graphics in Microsoft Excel by Jorge Camoes – This is the Excel charting book that I would have liked to have written. Jorge has applied the best practices of data visualization to charting in Excel.
Excel Dashboards and Reports for Dummies by Michael Alexander – Yes, a Dummies book, and no, I’m not crazy. This was the first book about Excel dashboards, and Mike did a good job of staying within the Dummies framework but providing lots of useful information.
Excel Dashboards and Reports by Michael Alexander and John Walkenbach – This advanced volume builds on Mike’s successful Dummies book, with more details about working with data and making effective visual reports.
Dashboards for Excel by Jordan Goldmeier and Purnachandra “Chandoo” Duggirala – In addition to applying data visualization practices and dynamic formulas and charts, this book digs into Power Query, Power Pivot, and the Excel Data Model to make robust and elaborate dashboards.
Great list here. I’d also add Mr Excel – The 40 Greatest Excel Tips of All Time.
Will you ever write a book yourself Jon?
Jon Peltier says
Hi Ben –
Well, I had to draw the line somewhere. There are several other books on Excel VBA I could have included, as well as books on using Excel for high-powered mathematical analysis and statistics, and books on specialized uses of Excel (Excel for Chemists, for Scientists and Engineers, etc.). Tips and Tricks as a category, however popular in blogs and ten-minute conference fillers (and to demonstrate no offense was meant to Bill & Szilvia, I’ve linked to it below), usually falls lower on my list of must-have books.
And in answer to your other question, I have an extensive working outline for a book, and a few partial chapters put together, but I’m a long way away from actually writing a book. Maybe I’ll self-publish some parts and see how it goes.
MrExcel XL: The 40 Greatest Excel Tips of All Time by Bill Jelen and Szilvia Juhasz.
Well, I’d certainly be interested if you ever publish your book, in whatever form, so I’ll keep an eye out.
I agree with your sentiment on tips and tricks, it’s not a book category to reference for serious study. That being said, I enjoyed the humorous tone of the 40 tips book and have found some curious and interesting methods in there.
I hope you are well. I know your a chart guru and i have seen an example of yours somewhere that have me this idea..
I have got a scatter chart that has the numbers 1 to 25 for the x values and the value 2 for the y value just to ensure they align nicely
For the values i have a formula that compares the value in cell E2 and checks to see if the count incremented down is lower than the number in E2 the display 2 else na().
This is purely to highlight the number of icons depending on cell E2. I have replaced the dots with a picture that ive named main pic.
Now here is my problem, the value in E2 could have decimal points ie 5.37 or 6.64 or 0.85 or even 3.00 etc..
What i want is if there is a remainder, i need to do a pie chart that displays the proportion bit and then copy and paste into the last point..
For eg 5.37 should have 5 main pictures for each point and then 6 point should have the pie chart copied as picture and pasted into the 6th point..
0.85 should only have the pie showing 85% of the pie
3.45 should have 3 main pics and 4th point to show 45% of the pie as picture
So my aim is to have the main pic to show for whole numbers and if there is a proportion the. Show a Copy of the Pie as picture pasted into the last point.
The 1st point when i hover over it is 25 therefore it looks like its going from 25 to 1
I really hope this makes sense and you could help me
What about the Power Query and Power Pivot functionality? It seems to me
That is the real future for Excel for the average to advanced user.
Jon Peltier says
Good point. I haven’t really dug into Power Query and Power Pivot myself, so I didn’t put it into the list. It’s definitely a topic that needs to go here.
Jon Peltier says
First of all, this question is off topic for this post. Second, it’s the kind of thing that is going to be difficult to create, difficult to explain, and difficult to maintain, because it can’t be dynamic.
I’ll refer you to my article Getting Answers For Your Excel Questions. Then visit an Excel forum, such as Mr Excel, to try to find an answer.
Dennis M Wallentin says
It’s always difficult to list good books as our preferences may or may not be the same. Too many books from one source means it exist an overlap as the present high volume author reuse too much text. Looking on Your list I realize it lacks some titles, some of them exist while other not. Steve Dalton’s book on XLLs is highly recommended:
Manage Big Data with Power BI is one area that is not very much covered. Creating and manage Add-ins, created with other development tools then MS Excel is also an area that should be covered more.
Chuck G says
Does anyone have any recommendations on a Dashboard book? I purchased Excel Dashboards & Reports listed above and got about halfway through only to realize just 1 chapter is devoted to dashboards and that requires a Power View feature in Excel which was not available before 2013 and then only certain versions. There’s still good learning in this book … just not about assembling pieces into a dashboard.
Jon Peltier says
Did you look at the book by Jordan and Chandoo? It does cover certain advanced “Power” features, but also a lot of Excel-based features.
Keep in mind that a lot of building a dashboard is deciding what should be in it, then figuring out how to lay it all out in the space allocated for it. That means charts and tables, and maybe pivots, and a bunch of linking and careful formatting.
Hi Jon. Looking at the table of contents of Jordan & Chandoo, this is the book I should have purchased first. Much more on topic. Thank you.