Excel Basics

Excel is an excellent spreadsheet program that allows a user to update information easily and test scenarios that may otherwise take hours to complete. Once you begin to understand the basics you will find it is an easy application to learn and can be fun to use.

Basic Information:

What are cells?

The information and formatting that will be used in your spreadsheet will be contained in cells. Cells are the rectangle boxes on the screen when an Excel spreadsheet is open. Each cell has a reference letter (column) and number (row) referring specifically to that particular cell. For example, the top left cell on the spreadsheet is A1. This information will become important when you are ready to develop your formulas. Click on a cell and you will notice that the column and row pertaining to that cell will become slightly larger and darker; this will help you identify what the cell reference is for that cell.

What are columns?

Columns start at the top of screen and are referenced by a letter. Columns are top to bottom (vertical).

What are rows?

Rows are horizontal and are referenced by a number.

What is a formula?

Basically a formula is an equation or calculation.

Formulas always begin with the equals sign = , this is set-up to let Excel know that a formula is about to begin.

Symbols for basic calculations are:
  • Adding symbol is + sign.
  • Minus symbol is - sign.
  • Multiplication symbol is * sign
  • Division symbol is / sign.
When you have completed your formula you will need to press the enter key or click the red check mark at the top IMPORTANT: DO NOT CLICK ANOTHER CELL WHILE ENTERING A FORMULA, because that cell reference will appear in the formula.

Sample formulas: No Spaces!!
=2+5 add
=10-5 minus
=10*500 multiply
=500/10 divide

What are workbooks?

Workbooks are a collection of 1 to 255 worksheets. When a new workbook is opened it will be named Book1 on the title bar at the top. The name will be changed to you choice when the workbook is saved as - Go to "File" "Save As" change the name under file name to mine.xls (make sure that .xls is in your file name, depending on how your computer is set-up).

What are worksheets?

A new workbook contains 3 worksheets. More sheets may be added for a maximum of 255 worksheets - per workbook. To add more worksheets click on "Insert" on the menu at the top and in the submenu click "worksheet". You will notice a new sheet will appear in the workbook and the sheet will be named Sheet 4 . Within your workbook you may change the names, Double-click on the tab of the worksheet containing the name you would like to change. The letters will become white inside a black rectangle. This lets you know it has been selected and is ready for you to type in a new name and press enter.