How to ask a question about Excel – Best article

Every day, thousands of questions about Excel are posted on the internet. Many of these questions go unanswered because they are unclear. Here are some tips on how to write a question that people will quickly understand and answer if they can.

Search for existing solutions

Try a search first to see if you can find an existing solution you can use or adapt. There’s a very good chance others have already traveled this same path.

State your goal clearly

Be clear about what you want. For example:

  • I need to calculate sales by month
  • I need to count orders on Wednesdays or Mondays
  • I need C1 to be blank unless there are numbers in A1 and B1
  • I need a date 10 days in the future excluding weekends

Limit the question

Be as specific as possible. Don’t get into other questions unless they are closely related. Focus on one problem you need help with to move forward.


Reduce the problem to it’s simplest form. Do not upload screenshot showing a complicated worksheet with all kinds of data and formulas. It’s very difficult to figure out a complicated worksheet from a screenshot, and most people won’t try. Instead, build a tiny example on one worksheet and upload a screen shot (see below).

Include a screen shot

A picture is worth a thousand words. A simple image can be more effective than almost any amount of explanation. Be sure to include two things: (1) sample data and (2) desired result. Make sure you your image shows Excel’s rows and columns, so that people can use cell references when they provide answers.

On the Exceljet site, we use the Disqus comment system, which allows images in JPG, GIF, and PNG format.

Explain what you’ve tried

Explain what you’ve already tried. This helps people understand how you are thinking about the problem. Make sure you also explain the problem with your approach (incorrect result, error, limitation, etc.)

Post your question in the right place

On the Exceljet site, each page has a topic. Search the site first and try to ask your question on a page with a related topic. This makes it more likely that others will see your question and be able to help.


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