Chances are you’ve had to use a Microsoft Office program at work or at home. And if you’ve felt like you were fumbling in the dark, there’s hope for you yet. The Complete 2020 Microsoft Office Mastery Bundle is designed with beginners in mind, and it should help you get a solid grasp on many Office programs.
The $39.99 bundle on store.cnn.com features a total of nine courses covering six Microsoft Office programs: Access, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams. In total, that’s over 50 hours of lessons. Each program has at least one training course that covers the fundamentals. The exceptions are Access and Excel, which include some more advanced courses to take you beyond the basics. If you’re already familiar with most Office programs, this may not be the bundle for you. But if you’ve struggled with a few or want to advance your knowledge in Access and Excel, this is a bundle you’ll want to look into.
Whichever programs you’re interested in learning, stick around to see how our hands-on experience went.
Here’s how these courses work
As we mentioned above, every program in this bundle has a completely introductory course. These are designed to help you get familiar with each program’s basic features and interfaces. Even if you’ve never opened a certain program, you won’t have any trouble following along.
We appreciated how thorough these courses are. Even though we have a lot of experience with the programs at hand, it’s clear that every lesson covers a vital feature. And as we looked through these lessons, we couldn’t think of much else that needed to be demonstrated. Plus, every course is punctuated with exercises that’ll help you test what you learn along the way. There are included files you can download to complete the exercises on your own device.
Perhaps best of all, there’s no rush when taking these lessons. Once you purchase the bundle, the courses are yours for life. You can stream them at any time, wherever you are, as long as you have a capable device.
Excel from basic to advanced
There are three courses on Microsoft Excel in this bundle. The first two span basics like creating new workbooks and data to more advanced techniques like creating pivot tables and graphs. But there’s also a course specifically for Mac users of Excel. There, you’re taught the basics of Excel from the Apple perspective, as the program can differ from that of Windows.
Cindy McGuckin, an Excel teacher for over 15 years, starts us off with the basics. And when we say basics, we mean it — entering data, using simpler formulas and saving workbooks are all covered at the beginning. Later, she shows off great functions that the average user might not even know about, like freezing rows and columns so they follow your screen as you scroll.
The advanced course, led by IT instructor Deborah Ashby, sort of continues where the basic lessons leave off. She almost immediately starts covering some basic formulas like sums and averages, later continuing to more advanced ones like AND, OR and Excel’s IFS function. She also covers tables and pivot tables in great detail, which are essential for dynamically summarizing large amounts of data.
Finally, there’s the Mac-focused Excel lesson. This one’s also taught by Deb (as she refers to herself in the lesson) and follows the same structure as the introductory Excel course. Except, well, it’s on a Mac. This is a good course if you’ve transitioned from Windows to Mac or if you’re starting out on a Mac. Near the beginning of this course, Deb explains why and how the program differs between the operating systems. Aside from a number of small differences, you primarily miss out on some more complex macros as well as some pivot chart functionality.
Throughout these courses, Cindy and Deb use a plethora of concrete examples, such as monthly sales or charts of employee salaries, to demonstrate every technique. We feel this really drives the lessons home. You aren’t just being told how to use a feature, you’re being shown the result of that feature in a realistic context. And in just about every module, there’s an exercise at the end so you can practice on your own.
The fundamentals of Teams
You may have encountered Microsoft Teams in your professional life. It’s one of the most popular programs for its collaboration and file sharing tools. And if you’re looking to learn the ins and outs of the program, look no further than this short course again led by Deborah Ashby.
In the beginning, Deb gives an overview of Teams and what it’s used for. After this synopsis, she delves into how to join a team and create your own as well as all the ways to send and format messages and files. Within are lessons on @mentions to get the attention of specific individuals, and tags, which can be used to identify the roles of different team members.
In addition to text-based interaction, Deb covers video and audio calls. This includes creating and joining calls, toggling video and audio as well as recording calls and meetings. Finally, she goes over employing features like apps and bots. Bots are especially useful because they (the good ones) can help you schedule events, find free time between team members and otherwise automate important processes.
Overall, these lessons are quite straightforward. Deb both explains and demonstrates every basic feature you’re going to need. If you’re intimidated by Microsoft Teams or you’ll be using it for the first time soon, you can’t go wrong with this course.
Microsoft PowerPoint has a lot more to offer than just plopping uncropped images and text on slides. In this course, Deborah Ashby once again takes us through the most basic and most useful functions of a program. And like her other classes, she demonstrates these functions with a realistic project and plenty of exercises to test your knowledge.
Naturally, the first groups of lessons involve inserting text and images as well as cropping and formatting them. There are a lot of lessons here not only on PowerPoint’s tools but on making a clean presentation free of errors or awkward formatting. We found some great lessons here, such as using PowerPoint’s built-in tools to remove the white background from images.
You’ll also be shown how to access SmartArt. Within PowerPoint resides a large bank of premade graphics you can use to present text and images in a clean and professional manner. Deb reveals some of her favorites and what they’re most useful in representing.
Finally, she covers transitions and animations. These functions can be used to add some flair to your presentations. Animations can be as simple as making bullet points appear one by one or having objects fly across the screen. And transitions can make things feel a little more dynamic. She even spends some time on ways to practice the timing or recording of your presentation, such as using PowerPoint to time yourself.
By the end, you’ll find you’ll have a much better grasp of PowerPoint and the many techniques you can use to make professional, engaging slideshows. And if you’ve been following along, you’ll have gotten plenty of practice thanks to numerous exercises.
From the clear, concise instructor to her use of realistic demonstrations and exercises, this bundle is a great place to learn Microsoft Office — and while you’re at it, you can dive into some more advanced Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel courses.
Pick up the Complete 2020 Microsoft Office Mastery Bundle ($39.99; store.cnn.com) and get a grip on some of the most widely used Office programs out there.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.