Microsoft Excel has been around for decades and many have used it since its release. But there are still others who are just now starting to use it. Whether for work, school, or personal use, it can be a little intimidating when you first begin. There are even classes for new Excel users both online and on campuses.
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This guide to Excel is for those who have never used it before, are struggling with it as a beginner, or just want the basics to then learn it on their own.
What Is Microsoft Excel?
In the simplest of terms, Excel is a spreadsheet application. It uses grids of cells within columns and rows to manipulate, organize, and perform calculations with data. You can use pivot tables, charts, formulas, and functions in a variety of ways.
That being said, the application is not limited to numbers, although that’s where it “excels.” You can add text, images, videos, objects, and many other items to help track, manage, and easily view information.
General Uses for Excel
Budgets for household or business finances
Invoices and receipts
Tracking for projects, client and customers, and health records
Planners and calendars
Checklists and task lists
Financial, loan, debt, and mortgage calculations
The list goes on with the many uses for Excel. So, whatever you plan to use it for, let’s look at a few of the terms you will need to know.
Basic Excel Terms You Should Know
Throughout this guide, you will see the same terms used again and again. Getting familiar with them will help you to understand the guide and the steps you see.
Workbook and Spreadsheet: A workbook is what you actually use when you open Excel. The workbook contains the spreadsheets. A workbook can hold many spreadsheets and you can move between those sheets with the tabs on the bottom of the Excel workbook.
Cell: Spreadsheets are made up of rectangular blocks called cells. A cell contains the data you enter; from numbers to words to images to formulas, cells hold that information. You can enter data either directly in the cell or in the formula bar (text box) for the cell right below your ribbon.
You will also notice the name box (cell indicator) to the left of the formula bar. By default, this displays the corresponding column and row for the cell. For instance, the cell in the top left corner of the spreadsheet is A1 for column A, row 1.
Formulas and Functions: You can think of a formula as a calculation or equation. With Excel, you can create formulas or use built-in ones. These formulas can automatically calculate numbers for you like addition or multiplication.