How to Use Excel

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Microsoft Excel is one of the most used applications in MS Office suite. It's becoming increasingly important for people to understand how to use this product for success in the workplace. With these simple steps you can master the most commonly known actions to view, create, edit, save and print work in Excel.

  • Open Excel. A blank spreadsheet is displayed. To open an existing file go to "File," select "Open" and browse through your files until you locate the desired one. To create a new Excel document stay on the blank spreadsheet or choose "File" at the top of screen and select "New."

  • Click your mouse on the cell you want to view or update. Use the scroll bars at the bottom and side of the screen to update and view cells not in sight if desired.

  • Update the information in the cells by clicking the cell you want to change and enter the new data. To make the cell fit all the data entered without formatting the cell make the columns or rows larger or smaller by clicking on the line between each letter and number label at the top of the screen, and dragging it where you want it.

  • Format cells by clicking the cell or cells you wish to format similarly (for example, all should be aligned to the center) and select "Cells" from the "Format" menu at the top of the screen. Click the tab in the window displayed which has the type of formatting you want to assign to these cells (general, number, alignment, font, border, pattern and protection). For example if you are entering monetary amounts, select "Currency" and choose the number of decimal places and format of the symbol (dollar sign) and numbers. Click the "OK" button once you've made the desired selections.

  • Continue entering, updating, and formatting data into the cells until all information is entered. To view and update information in other spreadsheets within the Excel file click the tabs at the bottom of the screen. All spreadsheets within one file make a workbook. To change the name of each spreadsheet (default is sheet 1, sheet 2, sheet 3) right- click on the tab, select "Rename" from the options displayed and type the new name and click anywhere on the screen to save the new name.

  • Save your work by selecting "Save As" from the "File" option of the menu bar. Give the file a name which makes sense to you based on the data you have inputted, and select the folder you want to save the file in. To save changes to an existing file (and not change the file name or location) select "Save" instead.

  • Print the file. Select "Print Preview" from the "File" menu. When printing in Excel there are many options to select to print your document. Use the "Setup" and "Page Break Preview" options at the top of the preview screen to make the changes you need. Once finished, select "Print" from the "File" menu. When you need to print multiple spreadsheets select "Entire Workbook" from the "Print What" box from the print menu.

Tips & Warnings

  • To highlight cells that are not close enough together to click and drag, hold down the "Ctrl" button and click on each cell. Release the "Ctrl" button and select the desired formatting option.
  • Combine cells by clicking on one cell, and dragging the mouse to highlight the cells to be combined. Then open the "Format Cells" box again, under the "Alignment" tab and click the box beside "Merge Cells".
  • Shortcuts using keystrokes to cut, copy and paste used in other MS Office products also work in Excel.
  • The letters and numbers shown across the rows and columns are not labels. Remember to include your own column and row labels above the information.


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