How to Learn Excel: A Guide for Beginners

Posted by Develop Admin
March 9, 2021

Microsoft Excel is an application used extensively by businesses of all sizes to organize and manage their data. This powerful tool is part of the Microsoft Office suite of software and makes it easy for you to store your data, analyze it, and report on what your data is showing. For a beginner, Microsoft Excel can be intimidating or confusing, but once you understand the core concepts, it’s really easy to start using it in your job!

Getting Started: How To Create An Excel Spreadsheet

When you open Excel and create a blank spreadsheet, you’ll see that across the top, there are a series of horizontal columns that are labeled alphabetically and vertical rows that are numbered. The point (or cell) where a row and a column intersect will consist of both a number and a letter. For example, the box or cell in the top left corner is A1 – column A, row 1. Below that is A2 – column A, row 2, and to the right of the first cell is B1 – column B, row 2. These codes or names are known as cell references and are used to reference a specific point on the spreadsheet.

A "cell" in Microsoft Excel

To get started, place your cursor in the chosen cell, enter your data and then either click to a new cell, press “Enter”, or press “Tab” to move to the next cell. Next, take notice of the two boxes located above the lettered columns. Here, a box labeled the “name box” and a “formula bar” can be found. The “name box” will display the cell reference that is currently selected while the “formula bar” will allow users to enter functions and calculations.

Performing Calculations in Excel

To perform basic Excel calculations, you’ll need to enter the desired formula into the “formula bar.” To do this, it is crucial to begin each one with “=” or the equals sign. When you want to add together the sum of the data within two cell references, simply enter the formula into this bar. For example, if you want to add cells B1 and B2 and display the result in B3, you would put your cursor in B3 and then enter: “=B1+B2” into the formula bar and then click enter. Excel will automatically calculate the total and display it in cell B3

Using the Name box and Formula Bar in Microsoft Excel

To perform other calculations, use the following formulas:

  • To subtract: =B1-B2
  • To multiply: =B1*B2
  • To divide: =B1/B2

Using the Ribbon

The “ribbon” is simply a different way of referring to the main menu within Excel that is found at the top of the screen. This main menu (or ribbon) is where you can perform several different tasks related to your spreadsheet. You’ll see there are tabs labeled “File”, “Home”, “Insert”, “Page Layout”, “Formulas”, “Data”, “Review”, “View” and “Help”. Using these tabs to navigate, you can perform several different functions such as creating a new spreadsheet, reviewing data, or viewing a list of formulas. Also located on the ribbon are several tools that allow you to customize the way that the spreadsheet looks. You can change the font color or style, create bold or underlined text and change text alignment. You can also delete rows or columns of data or blank spaces within the ribbon.

The Ribbon in Microsoft Excel

Saving Spreadsheets

After a spreadsheet is completed, you can save your work by simply pressing the “ctrl” and “s” buttons at the same time, or by selecting “Save” under the “File” tab within the ribbon. Once the spreadsheet is saved, you can share your spreadsheets or just store them in a folder on your computer.

As you can see, while Microsoft Excel might be a bit intimidating at first, it’s actually pretty simple when you understand the core functionality. Knowing how to properly use Excel can help you stand out in your job and make you an invaluable member of your team, and we have a full suite of online courses to help you learn.

Keep learning how to use Microsoft Excel today!

Microsoft Excel for Beginners

Introduction to Microsoft Excel

Excel is a powerful tool for organizing and managing data. This course for beginners using Excel 2019 will help you begin to build a solid grounding in the basics of Excel and guide you towards becoming more confident with spreadsheets.