How to Learn Excel Step-by-Step

Excel is part of the Windows Office software package, which also includes Microsoft Word and Powerpoint among other applications. Excel is used to create spreadsheets and graphs and solve equations. Although it may seem intimidating, using Excel is easier than you may imagine. Take some time to get comfortable with the program before starting any excel projects to make working with Excel more productive.


Working with Microsoft Excel

  1. Go to the Windows button at the lower left hand corner of the computer screen. Scroll until you find the Windows Excel Program listed. Click on that to open the program. A blank spreadsheet will appear. Click on a cell with the mouse. The border of the cell becomes “highlighted.” To start to understand how Excel works go to the top of the screen and click on “Formulas.” Click on the book icon labelled “Math & Trig.” A drop down box will appear which lists different mathematical functions which can be performed using Excel.
  2. Go to “SUM.” After clicking on this there will be a message box which appears. In this box are two fields. The top field is the one in which you place the number which you can place numbers which you want to be added together. Type the numbers “2,2” into the “Number 1” field and then click “OK.” The arithmatic sum of the number you just entered appear in the cell you highlighted earlier. You may also type 2 in the top field “Number 1” field and another 2 in the bottom “Number 2” field to get the same result.
  3. Get a feel for how you can use Excel for simple tasks by typing in numbers into the cells. To simply provided this list of information, start at the top left hand corner of the screen at the A1 cell and type in your first number. Then hit the down arrow and type in your second number. As you type in the numbers remember to periodically save for information.
  4. Create a border around some of the information you have entered, go to “Home” on the menu bar. Click on the border icon near the Bold, italics and underline icons, and find the type of border that you want to have. To place a thick border around a set of numbers, click on the thick border option. Highlight the numbers you want included in that border, then thick on the icon. Make sure that the thick border option is showing up in the border icon.
  5. Create a graph using Excel by first typing in a set of numbers that you want represented in the graph. Do this by typing in a set of number in a column. Type a second set of number in the column directly to the right of the first column. Click on “Insert” on the menu. A set of graph representations, such as a bar graph, pie graph and circle graph will appear.
  6. Click on the type of graph you want to use. Highlight the two columns of numbers you made. Then the graph will appear on the spreadsheet near the numbers that you created. The numbers from the left hand column will be on the x (horizontal) axis. The numbers from the right hand column will be on the y (vertical) axis of the graph, if you are using a bar or line graph.
  7. Type in necessary information to create a chart for work. For instance, if you need to create a chart of the amount of product a group of salespeople have sold over a set period of time, like March, April and May, then create your chart in the spreadsheet first. Go to the A1 cell and type in the title of the chart. Center it over the columns using the “Merge and Center” button under “Home.” Under the title then type in the months, then type in names of sales people along the left hand column. Type the amount of product each salesperson sold for those months under the appropriate month. Make certain to list the number of products in the same row as the salesperson who sold those products.
  8. Click on “Insert” on the menu after completing the chart, A selection of graphc will appear. Click on the one you want to represent the chart. Make any changes to the graph which you deem needed by altering the chart the graph was made from.

Tips & Warnings

If you are using a pie graph, the graph will be color-coded to let you know, based on the legend which is automatically created, what part of the pie is represented by what number. More information is given via a box, if you move your cursor of a section of the pie graph.

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