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Introduction to Microsoft Excel
This Excel tutorial is geared towards users that already have an understanding of how computers and Microsoft products work.
This Excel tutorial is geared towards users that already have an understanding of how computers and Microsoft products work. It is also a very brief introduction into Excel and will only cover the basics of opening, identifying and moving around within a workbook. Excel is a large and sometimes complicated application and could not be covered in one tutorial or introduction. It is also best understood by the use of screenshots and graphics.
We begin by learning how to navigate through Excel and the different parts of an Excel Window.
The Excel program opens with a new blank document called a workbook and by default it contains three pages known as worksheets.
The main toolbars will look familiar to you because they are in all Microsoft applications. The menu bar and the standard toolbar are available as in other programs. The new toolbar that you may notice below the two main toolbars has a few sections we will go over. On this toolbar the first thing you see is a white box called the Name box. It will indicate which cell you have selected. By default it should contain A1 since we've just opened a blank workbook. Next to the name box are the formula editing buttons; a down arrow, a red X, a green checkmark, and the letters fx in italics. The long white box is called the formula bar, which is used to edit the contents of the cells without having to delete and re-enter all the data of a cell.
The worksheets are formatted into rows and columns known as cells. Excel has 256 columns and 65,536 rows in each worksheet.
The cells are where you enter data, calculations and various other types of information. They can be customized to fit your needs. You will notice that the columns are labeled in alphabetical order and the rows are labeled in numeric order. These are known as column headings or row headings. Each corresponding cell is known as a cell address or cell reference and are identified as A1, B4, etc. You can select multiple cells by holding down your left mouse button and dragging across several rows, columns or both. You can select whole columns or rows by clicking on the corresponding column or row heading when the mouse pointer turns into a large arrow. When you have multiple cells highlighted or selected this is known as a range and would appear in your formula bar as A1:A4 if you selected the cells from A1 to A4.
You can also select cells that are nonadjacent to one another. To select cells that are nonadjacent to each other you would select a cell, hold the CTRL key and select other cells. Nonadjacent cells are separated with commas instead of a colon, (i.e. B1, B4, C8. )
As mentioned earlier, Excel opens with three worksheets by default. You can add or delete worksheets depending on your needs. Worksheets are labeled at the bottom of the window as Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3. These are called the sheet tabs and this is where you can rename the sheets to better identify the information they contain. To rename a worksheet you simply highlight and right-click the tab. A shortcut menu will appear and you will click on the rename option. The sheet tab will then become an active text box and you simply type in the name you have chosen.
Next we will learn about entering data such as text, dates and numbers. Excel can recognize the type of data that you enter, therefore if you entered a name into the active cell Excel would know this was a text entry and could not be used in calculations. If you enter a date format Excel would recognize that and automatically identify it as a date value and apply the date number format that corresponds to the way you entered the date. These cells can also be formatted for specific formats of numbers, dates, etc.
The data that you enter into the cells can be edited at a later time if the data needs to be updated or changes. This can be done either in the cell itself or in the formula bar. If it's a simple change then editing the data in the cell would be the best way, but if you have a lengthy formula and only need to change one element of that information then the formula bar is your best choice. When you click on a cell that contains a calculation and need to change something, simply look at the formula bar to see the calculation you've entered. If you had entered dollar amounts in cells A1:A10 and set cell A12 to total those amounts, then the formula in cell A12 would read =a1+a2+a3, etc. If you decided that you didn't need cell A10 in the calculation and wanted to change it, you could simply click in the formula bar with your I-beam pointer and change the A10 to A9 or whichever cell you wanted the calculation to stop adding with.
Excel also features a sum function and an AutoSum. Totaling rows and columns can also be done using the AutoSum feature in Excel. The AutoSum button is the one with the ? on it. Simply activate the cell where you want the totals to display, in this example it would be A12, click the AutoSum button and Excel automatically surrounds cells A1:A11 with a flashing border. If these are the cells you want totaled you would simply hit the enter key. The formula in the formula bar would then look like = sum(A1:A11) when that cell was active.
The terms inside the parentheses are known as arguments. Arguments are values that must be supplied for the function to perform the calculation. The sum function can be used to calculate cells that are nonadjacent to one another but this information would need to be entered manually using the =sum(cell range) function.
Excel also comes with MIN and MAX functions that are commonly used operations. If you keep up with data like daily sales and need to know which day has the lowest sales or the highest sales, you can use the MIN and MAX functions. Simply activate a cell that you wish to display these totals in type =min(the cell range) and press enter. You can do the max function the same way. You can select the cells in the range either by entering it manually or using your mouse to select the cells.
Another important step is to save your work. You do this just like any other application that you use. Click on the file menu, scroll down to save as and click. You can choose which drive and folder you wish to save your work in and then click save or hit enter.
Closing an Excel application can be done by either clicking on the X in the top right corner or clicking file on the menu bar and choosing Exit.
This simple tour of Microsoft Excel is only a glimpse into the application. Excel has many capabilities and many things can be accomplished with spreadsheet programs such as Excel.