Basic Excel – An Introduction To Microsoft Excel

 In 21st century, Microsoft Excel has become the basic need for any business. There is hardly any industry or domain where Excel does not comes into picture. Almost entire industry from Banking to Telecom, Education to Financial Services, Real Estate to Tourism, everywhere MS-Excel is required and it is one of the best analytical tool can be considered in anyone’s entire career.

Introduction

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program which is developed by Microsoft and comes under Microsoft Office Suite of application. It is one of the best software program which is very easy to operate and to work with it. It is basically used for performing calculations, manipulating data and it features Basic Math, Formulas & Functions, Charts, Pivot Tables, and Conditional Formatting etc. In addition to its standard components, it also offers programming language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

History

The first version of Microsoft Excel was released in 1985 for Macintosh system and then first Window version in 1987. Since then, Microsoft has launched several versions of Excel and the latest version is Excel 2016 (v16.0) which was launched in September 2015 on Microsoft Windows.

Getting Started with Excel

Whether you are a newbie or professional, it is always very easy to open Excel on computer/laptop. Simply click on “Start” button, go to “All Programs”, then look for “Microsoft Office” and click on that. By clicking on “Microsoft Office”, a list will be expanded and there you can see “Excel”. Just click on it and there you go! You have successfully opened Excel application.

You can also start MS-Excel in two simple steps. Press “Window+R” keyboard shortcut to start run command and then type “excel” in search area and hit enter. The moment you hit enter, Microsoft Excel application gets opened.

Intro1

As you can see in the above image, when you open fresh excel workbook, an option is there to select the type of templates. Either you can select any pre-installed template by double clicking on it or you can browse for online templates as well. For this instance, click on “Blank Workbook” to open a blank spreadsheet.

Features & Commands

Navigating with Excel is quite difficult for novice. As there are 100s of Excel features and commands in Excel which are very difficult to remember. But for basic survival, there are few important features which you should know before getting started with Excel.

Following are the 10 key components for Excel navigation:

  1. Ribbon – The rows of tabs and buttons located on top of the Excel are called Ribbon. It was introduced with Excel 2007. Microsoft replaced the menus and toolbars which existed in the earlier versions of Excel and combined them all into a group of tabs, called Ribbon.
  2. Each Ribbon tab contains group of commands according to its category. For example, “Alignment” group that includes Text Alignment styles, Orientation, Merge cells, and Wrap Text commands. The “Number” group which includes Number Format, Accounting Number Format, Percent Style, Comma Style and decimal Places commands. The purpose of this ribbon is to provide quick access to all menus and tools.

  3. Quick Access Toolbar – This is a customize toolbar which allows you to quickly access the frequently used commands. By default, first time it shows only 3 commands that are “Save”, “Undo”, and “Redo”. But you can add most frequent and your favorite commands to the Quick Access Toolbar at any time to access them with ease.
  1. Formula Bar – A toolbar located at the top of the Excel spreadsheet window, shows the content of the current cell and allows to create, view and modify the formulas. It gets activated as soon as soon as we type anything in any cell or click anywhere in the formula bar directly. It plays important role when evaluating large functions or working with large and complicated formulas.
  1. Name Box – The Name Box is located left to the Formula bar and just above the first column. It displays the address of the active cell in the spreadsheet. If selected range or cell has been defined by any name, the Name Box displays the name for the same. It allows you to quickly assign a name to any range or formula.
  1. Column Letters – A set of colored rows containing the letters from A to XFD that represents each column in the spreadsheet, called Column Letters or Column Headers. Each spreadsheet contains 16,384 columns in 2007 and later version of Excel. However, in earlier version of Excel, it contains only 256 columns. To select any column, just click on the letter(s) to highlight the entire column. This column letters can be found just below the Formula Bar.
  1. Row Numbers – A Row is a horizontal series of cells in a spreadsheet which is identified by a number. The gray colored column located on the left side of the 1st column in the spreadsheet which contains the numerical series from 1 to 10,48,576, represents each row in the spreadsheet in 2007 and later versions of Excel, is called Row Numbers / Row Headers. The row(s) can be highlighted by clicking on its Row Numbers / Headers.
  1. Active Cell – A cell is an Intersection point between a row and a column. And an active cell refers to a cell that is currently selected and bounded by a heavy border in Excel spreadsheet. Also, name box displays the address of the active cell. The difference between active and inactive can easily be noticed while looking at their appearance as well as the column header and the row number of the active cell gets highlighted. Active cell is also known as cell pointer or selected cell and only one cell can be active at a time.
  1. Sheet Tabs – Sheet Tabs show the current sheets that are available in the opened workbook. And by default, a workbook contains three worksheets along with an additional tab to include extra sheets to the workbook. 

  2. Each sheet tab contains its’ property and in case you want to rename the worksheet, just do right click on the required sheet, and click on rename option. You can also delete, add, hide or unhide, move or copy, change color or select all available sheets through the sheet tab’s property. Sheet Tabs are located at bottom of the Excel worksheet and every workbook must contains at least one sheet.

a. Active Sheet – It is a worksheet that is currently being worked on. Active sheet tab typically has a white background as tab color and sheet name displays in bold.

  1. Zoom Control – This features allows you to control zooming in and out in spreadsheet quickly and easily without making any changes in the font size. It has a slider that you can drag right or left to zoom in or out respectively.
  2. For instance, there is a database which has very small font that is very difficult to read because of its size. But despite changing the font size of the original database, using zooming feature will let you zoom in for a closer look at the database. It is located at the bottom right corner on the status bar of the Excel window.

  1. Status Bar – It is placed at the bottom of the Excel window that displays information about the progress of the particular task which is going on. By default, several options are already selected however it can be customized at any point of time by right clicking on the status bar and by selecting or deselecting the option from the provided list. It provides quick information of the selected range of cells such as average, count, sum, caps lock, num lock, status of macro recording etc.

Likewise, there are many other features in Excel which are also important to know. And the same we will be exploring in our upcoming articles.

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