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MS Excel Basics 1 – What is Microsoft Excel?
What is Microsoft Excel (MS Excel)?
When I tell people about the different software I use to analyze data, sometimes I still get blank stares when I talk about MS Excel. Many tend to forget that not everyone knows what MS Excel is and what it is used for. Microsoft Excel, or Excel for short, is an electronic spreadsheet program commonly used to store information. Once the information is stored, you can use MS Excel to organize and manipulate the data. It is important to organize the data in a meaningful way so that when you are trying to manipulate the data to find answers or patterns, it simplifies the task.
When you open MS Excel 2013, it looks similar to MS Excel 2007 and 2010 version. If you have an older version, Excel will look different, but the concept of the spreadsheet is pretty much the same.
So what do I see when I open Excel?
When you open Excel 2007 or later, you’ll see the Command Ribbon to help you quickly perform any task you need. Below the ribbon, you’ll see a rectangular table, also called a grid, that contains rows and columns. Rows are identified by numbers in the left column of the screen. An Excel table can have up to 1,048,576 rows. Columns are indicated at the top of the table by letters starting from A to z and continuing with two or more letters, which can make up to 16,384 columns. While you have all these rows and columns at your disposal, remember that the quality of your spreadsheet will degrade the more information you enter, as your computer’s power will limit you.
The first cell you can enter data into is labeled A1, which means its address is row 1 in column A. This is also called the cell reference.
Notice how the first column A and the first row 1 are also dark green. This way you will know the reference or address of each cell.
What information can you put in the box?
A cell can store different types of data, such as numbers, text, links, and formulas. Excel has a complete list of different formulas that you can use to manipulate data. In MS Excel 2007 and later, formulas can be found on the Formulas tab of the ribbon. Excel’s power lies in manipulating data.
What are the uses of MS Excel?
There are so many things you can do with Excel! Some of the things you can do are:
- Basic math calculations like sum, product, min, max, average.
- Manipulate financial data to calculate profit or loss
- Come up with repayment plans for different interest rates on loans and mortgages
- Create a personal/family budget
- Graphics data in charts
- Move tables and charts to sort and filter data
- Write small applications called macros to automate everyday tasks
How to use MS Excel data for your presentation needs?
I usually use Excel to manipulate data and find patterns. Once I’m satisfied with the information I’ve collected and manipulated, I can usually just copy and paste the information wherever I want, for example:
- Other MS Excel workbooks
- MS Word file
- Websites – I’ll save it as an image first
- Presentations – PowerPoint easily accepts Excel tables and charts. Simply copy from Excel and paste directly into presentations. I usually choose to paste as an image, but it can also be useful to leave the table/chart as a working table/chart for easy manipulation in PowerPoint.
- Print – Printing is an easy way to distribute information from Excel.
As you can see, MS Excel is a powerful tool for storing and processing data. It takes practice to use it comfortably. So start today and don’t be afraid to make mistakes! It’s easy to delete and start over. It is important to start!
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