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Getting Started with Excel

by: bs0d
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This tutorial is designed to get you started with using spreadsheets! If you're like me, your first look at Microsoft Office was just a bunch of useless programs, and word. But actually, even if you don't- both small and large business rely on programs such as Excel and Access to maintain their data. If you're interested in computers and look forward to a computer job, this is why you might decide to take the time to learn how to wrap these programs around your finger and beat out other competition for a more decent paying job.


Take a look at the list provided just to see what can be accomplished by using spreadsheets.
  • Income Taxes
  • Income Projections
  • Budgeting
  • Managing Check Book
  • Accounting
  • Sales Forecasting
  • Figure Grades

-And More...


Their are advantages of using spreadsheets. Lets take a look at them now.

  1. It saves time.
  2. It will perform calculations for you.
  3. Insures accuracy and integrity of calculations.
  4. If you change a value that is part of a formula or function, the result will be recalculated automatically.


With all that jargon being said, lets get started. I will try my best to keep you on the same page as I am. Therefore, I believe you need to be aquainted with a bit of TERMINOLOGY you will be use to hearing.

*note these definitions are not verified through or any other for that matter. So if its not EXACT, its still ok- I think you'll do fine.

SPREADSHEET- An arrangment of data into rows and columns.
WORKSHEET (aka ELECTRONIC SPREADSHEET)- A spreadsheet created with spreadsheet software on the computer.
WORKBOOK- A collection of worksheets.
ROWS- run horizonal and are numbered 1,2,3...
COLUMNS - run vertical and are lettered A,B,C...
MACRO*- Sequence of commands entered into a cell (or group of cells) in a worksheet that performs a specific task.

*A macro is a unique idea of your own (user defined function). The macro will be given a name so you can recognize it.

CELL- The intersection of a row and a colum.(hint:You see many of these)
CELL ADDRESS - The name of a cell. Which consists of a column letter followed by a row number.
CELL POINTER - The highlighted cell on the screen. It indicates the cell that you are currently in.


We are discussing four types of data. Labels, Values, Formulas and Functions.

LABELS always begin with a letter (A-Z, a-z) and are used for headings, titles and text type of info.
VALUES are used to enter numbers. Values always begin with a digit (0-9).
FORMULAS are used to do a calculation and always begin with an equals sign. If you forget the equals sign, it will be entered as a label.



are built in routines designed to perform a specific task, and always begin with an ='s sign.


The IF function is used to test a condition to see if its true or false. One action is taken if the condition is true, and another if the condition is false.

examples using the IF FUNCTION...

Excel will test to see if A1 is greater or equal to 60. if A1 is greater than or equal to 60 then the word PASS will be placed in the cell where the function is being entered. If A1 is less than 60, the word FAIL is placed where the function is being entered.

Excel tests to see if A1 is greater than 100. If it is, the value of A1*10 will be placed in current cell, if A1 is less than 100, then the result of A1*5 is placed in the current cell.

Remember, if you want text to appear in the cell if the condition is true/false, the text must be enclosed in double quotes.


3 Types of 'cell ranges' to be come aquainted with. Row, Column and Rectangular range. Details below.

  • ROW RANGE - Group of adjacent cells that forms part of a row in a spreadsheet. (ex: A1:B1)
  • COLUMN RANGE - Group of adjacent cells that forms part of a column in a spreadsheet. (ex: B1:B8)
  • RECTANGULAR RANGE- Group of 2 or more adjacent rows and two or more adjacent columns in a spreadsheet. (ex: A1:H8)


If you're just learning Spreadsheets and Excel, this is the essential part of the tutorial where you will learn about doing calculations.

If you want to add B1 to B2 and store the answer in B3, type this formula:

If you're wanting to subtract S1 from S2 (answer in S3), type this:

Say you want to multiply O1 to O2, type:

Now dividing D1 by D2 results in D3- type:

Finally if F1 has the value 2, and F2 the value of 3, and you want to take 2 to the 3rd power, do this:

TIP: Always use cell addresses when possible to do calculations. If you use numbers, you would have to retype the formula every time you change a cell that is part of the calcuation. If you use cell addresses and change a value that is part of a formula, the answer is recalculated automatically ;)

Heres a table that will help you with more complex equations and remember 'the order of operations' take effect. Remember the saying, "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally?" (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiply, Division, Add, Subtract)

Calculation to do
Code to type
Add B1 to B2 and multiply the sum by B3 =(B1+B2) * B3
Subtract sum of F1 and F2 from sum of F3 and F4: =(F1+F2) - (F3+F4)
Add A9 to the product of C1 and C2: =C1*C2 + A9
Subtract T3 from sum of Z1 and Z2: =Z1+Z2 - T3


This next part of the tutorial I decided to call "How To." It will describe in a fair amount of detail how to perform various tasks using Microsoft Excel 2000.

MERGE AND CENTER: Center a title over a row of cells.

First type in the info. you want centered in Column A (making sure you are in left alignment). Next, highlight the cells you want the info. to be centered upon. (Dont click the row number, it will center info among all 156 columns.) Finally click the MERGE AND CENTER icon from the top. It will center your title in the center of the cells you hilighted.


Click on the row # where you want to insert a row, then click on INSERT and then ROWS. This will insert a blank row at the location you selected.


Click on the column # where you want to insert a column, then click INSERT and then COLUMNS. This will insert a blank column where you selected.


Highlight the row or column you want to delete. click on EDIT-->DELETE. This deletes the current row or column from the spreadsheet.


First off more your cell pointer to the cell you wish to copy. Position the mouse over the lower right hand corner of the cell pointer. This is the auto-fill handle (solid black cross).

Next press down on auto-fill handle with left mouse button and drag mouse, highlighting cells you want to copy contents of current cell to. Now when you have all desired cells highlighted, release mouse button. The contents of the source cell will be copied to the destination cells.


Go up to column letter for the current column and point the mouse over the line just to the right of the column letter. Then press on the left mouse button and drag... when you press down the column width will appear. And just drag until the desired column width is reached and release the mouse button.


Just highlight the # and click the PERCENT icon. Remember, when you format a number as a percent, the number will first be multiplied by 100 and the % sign will be tracked on to the right side of the number.


Highlight your number, and click INCREASE DECIMAL ICON, or DECREASE DECIMAL ICON. To increase the number of decimal places, click INCREASE DECIMAL, to decrease number of decimal places, click the DECREASE DECIMAL ICON.


Highlight number, click FORMAT -- click on CELLS -- click on NUMBERS TAB (if not selected already) -- click on CURRENCY. And if you click on the dollar sign in the toolbar, the number will be formatted in accounting format (the $ will be clear over in the left hand side of the cell).


I think thats a pretty good place to stop. Just as the title indicates, that should get you started with spreadsheets. I would say next step for you is (if you dont already know about them) is databases and Access. That should be the next tutorial I write, "Getting Started with Databases" (lol). I hope that this tutorial has served you well, and if you feel that I left anything out like, WIZARD'S options and such- it was on purpose. I dont have the patience to write anthing much longer than this. Enjoy ;)


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