Microsoft Excel -class 1 tutorial

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Microsoft Excel -Class 1


  • First look at Excel

    • Opening Excel

    • Components

    • Descriptions

  • Navigating

    • Worksheets Tasks

    • Selecting & Moving

    • Ranges

  • Modifying cells

    • Editing Cells

    • Inserting, Deleting Row & Columns

  • Functions & Formulas

    • Arithmetic Operations

    • Inserting Functions

  • Atomic Mass Exercise

    • Block Copy

    • Inserting a Row and a Column

    • Formulas

    • Saving & Closing

First Look at Excel


This guide is designed to introduce you to using Microsoft Excel if you’re unfamiliar with any major aspect of it. The lessons in this guide will lead you through the fundamentals of creating and working with Excel spreadsheets.

Today's Excel spreadsheet isn't just for financial professionals. Microsoft Excel offers intuitive tools that make it easy to access, connect, and analyze critical data—regardless of your profession.

The first step in learning to use your new software is to start (or in computer parlance: launch) the Excel Program.

You launch Excel by:

1) SELECTING the Windows Start button; this will bring up a set of choices in a menu.

2) Drag your cursor over, Programs. Another menu will appear to the right.

3) Drag your cursor over to Microsoft Office, and another menu will appear on the right. 4) Drag your cursor over Microsoft Office 2003, and SELECT on it, you will launch Excel.

As each file made by Excel has the extention .xls. For example, in Book1.xls, we will describe files, as 'xls files'.

The initial xls window may not fill your whole screen. This size is very useful if you want to use more than one application simultaneously (such as a Web Browser), however, often, it is desirable to have a larger working window (also called working environment) in Microsoft Excel.

Components of Excel

When you first open Microsoft Excel, you’ll see the basic components; an Active cell, Column headings, a Formula bar, a Name box, the mouse pointer, Row headings, Sheet tabs, a Task Pane, Tab scrolling buttons and Toolbars. Listed below are descriptions of each component feature.


Navigate within worksheets

To navigate within a workbook, you use the arrow keys, PageUp, PageDown, or the Ctrl key in combination with the arrow keys to make larger movements. The most direct means of navigation is with your mouse. Scroll bars are provided and work as they do in all Windows applications. Go ahead and try moving between cells in your newly opened Excel document with your mouse and then the PageUp and PageDown keys.

Navigate between worksheets

To move to other Worksheets, you can Click their tab with the mouse at the bottom of the screen (Sheet1, Sheet 2, or Sheet 3) or use the Ctrl key with the Page Up and Page Down keys to move sequentially up or down through the worksheets. Go ahead and switch between your 3 sheets using the different methods described.

Insert, move, and rename worksheets

Worksheets are much like pages within a book; you peruse through them like you flip the pages of a book. There are several ways to move and copy worksheets. Right click on the sheet tab and choose Move or Copy. Select a new position in the workbook for the worksheet or click the Create a copy checkbox and Excel will paste a copy of that worksheet in the workbook. The same shortcut menu for the sheet tab also gives you the option to insert, delete or rename a worksheet.

Navigation keystrokes

Select and move worksheet cells

To select a large area of cells, select the first cell in the range, press and hold the Shift key, and then click the last cell in the range. Once you have selected a range of cells, you may move the cells within the worksheet by clicking and dragging the selection from its current location to its new one. To do this, bring your cursor to the side of the selection. When your cursor turns into 4 arrows pointing into opposite directions click and hold on to the mouse and drag where ever you want to locate it and let go of the mouse.

By pressing and holding the Ctrl key as you drag, Excel will leave the original selection in its place and paste a copy of the selection in the new location.

To move between workbooks, use the Alt key while dragging the selection.

Range selection techniques

Modifying Cells

Understanding text, values, and formulas

Information entered into cells is categorized as text, values or formulas. Values must be numbers, though they can be formatted to appear on the screen as currency or a percentage.

Editing cells and entering expressions

You can edit a cell by selecting the cell and then clicking in the formula bar or by double-clicking the cell to open the cell in edit mode.

Telephone numbers or social security numbers that contain other characters (like a dash or parentheses) are treated as text and cannot be used in calculations. Arithmetic operators are used in formulas.

Inserting worksheet rows and columns

  • You can insert one or many additional rows or columns within a worksheet with just a few steps using the mouse or menu options.

    • You can insert individual cells within a row or column and then choose how to displace the existing cells.

    • You can click the Insert menu and then select row or column, or right click on a row or column heading or a selection of cells and then choose Insert from the shortcut menu.

The Insert dialog box

This figure depicts the Insert dialog box, which appears when you select a range of cells, right click on the selection and then choose Insert from the shortcut menu.

Selecting one of these options controls what happens to existing cells when the new row or column is inserted. Your formulas are still good, they adjust to the change.

Delete worksheet rows and columns

  • To delete and clear cells, rows, or columns, you can use the Edit menu, or right click on a heading or a selection of cells and choose Delete from the shortcut menu.

  • Clearing, as opposed to deleting, does not alter the structure of the worksheet or shift uncleared data cells.

  • What can be confusing about this process is that you can use the Delete key to clear cells, but it does not remove them from the worksheet as you might expect.

Deleting cells and ranges of cells

When you choose to delete a selection, a dialog box similar to the Insert dialog box pops up, except that the first two choices are to Shift cells left or Shift cells up.

Resize worksheet rows and columns

  • There are a number of methods for altering row height and column width using the mouse or menus:

    • Click the dividing line on the column or row, and drag the dividing line to change the width of the column or height of the row

    • Double-click the border of a column heading, and the column will increase in width to match the length of the longest entry in the column

  • Widths are expressed either in terms of the number of characters or the number of screen pixels.

Functions & Formulas

  • You can easily calculate the sum of a large number of cells by using a function.

  • A function is a predefined, or built-in, formula for a commonly used calculation.

  • Each Excel function has a name and syntax.

    • The syntax specifies the order in which you must enter the different parts of the function and the location in which you must insert commas, parentheses, and other punctuation

    • Arguments are numbers, text, or cell references used by the function to calculate a value

    • Some arguments are optional

Excel’s arithmetic operators

Formulas are expressions that are used to calculate a value.

  • An expression can contain one or more arithmetic operators, such as plus, minus, divide, or multiply

When more than one arithmetic operator is present, the calculation must follow order-of-precedence rules, which determine which operator is applied first, second and so forth.

The chart below illustrates Excel’s order of precedence and shows sample expressions and the result of each expression.

Math and Statistical functions

This chart shows some commonly used math and statistical functions and a description of what they do.

Define functions, and functions within functions

The SUM function is a very commonly used math function in Excel. A basic formula example to add up a small number of cells is =A1+A2+A3+A4, but that method would be cumbersome if there were 100 cells to add up. Use Excel's SUM function to total the values in a range of cells like this: SUM(A1:A100).

You can also use functions within functions. Consider the expression =ROUND(AVERAGE(A1:A100),1). This expression would first compute the average of all the values from cell A1 through A100 and then round that result to 1 digit to the right of the decimal point

Atomic Mass Exercise

Block Copy

Open up Atm_mass.xls from the Class_Materials  Excel folder on the Desktop. We will be working with this file throughout the training, so make sure you save this file on your Z drive for use later on. The file appears to be empty but the data is in columns Y and Z.

Move to cell Z1. Move by SELECTING the scroll bar on the bottom right (blue circled item). You will notice the column label on the top of the spreadsheet window (red circled item).

  • Let's copy the data into another part of the spreadsheet. There are many methods to copy a block in Excel. The most straight-forward is a Copy and Paste

  • A whole column can be copied at once. Highlight column Z by SELECTING the Z label for the column. 

  • Hit Ctrl-C or the Copy icon on the button bar. The Copy icon looks like two overlapping pages (see the left icon in the green circle below).

  • Highlight column A by SELECTING the A label for the column. 

  • Hit Ctrl-V or the Paste icon on the button bar. The Paste icon looks like a clipboard with a piece of paper (see the right icon in the green circle below). 

  • Note that the entire Z1:Z93 block of data is still there.

Inserting a Row and a Column

We would like to place a label on the top of the data that is now in Column A. We would also like to place the atomic number next to the atomic masses. If we add a column we can place the atomic numbers in the new Column A. If we add a row, we can place the labels in the Row 1.

  • Highlight Column A.

  • From Menu Bar SELECT Insert - Colulmn.

  • Highlight Row 1 by SELECTING the 1 label.

  • From Menu Bar SELECT Insert - Row. 

  • Enter the labels Atomic Number into A1 and Atomic Mass into B1. 

  • Atomic Mass in cell B1 overlaps Atomic Number in A1. Highlight cells A1:B1. SELECT Format - Columns - Autofit Selection. It will size the columns to fit the size of the labels or numeric format in the cells. The final result will look something like the image below with cell B1 still highlighted.


  • Place the number 1 into cell A2. 

  • Place the formula =A2+1 into cell A3. You might wonder why you have to have a leading = sign for the formula =A2+1. When you enter the formula in, the leading the = indicates that the result is a value. Thus, =A2+1 is a formula that results in a value whereas A2+1 (with no leading =) is a label. A number alone is always a value, so they need no leading =

  • The result of the formula should be the value 2.

  • We are going to copy the cell A3 to the range A4:A94. Hopefully, the utility of this action will become apparent.

  • Highlight A3.

  • SELECT Edit from the Menu Bar (green circled below). SELECT Copy.

  • Highlight the block A4:A94.

  • SELECT Edit from the Menu Bar. SELECT Paste. The result should look somewhat like the image below. 

You will notice that the values in A4:A94 increase by one as you go down from cell to cell. Look to the Editing line (to the right of the cell address and hand). Now arrow down through the cells. You will notice that the formula is changing. As you move to increasing row number, the row number in the formula increments up. This is the beauty of spreadsheets. A simple repetitive computation can be done in a snap.

Saving & Closing Excel

To Save the Excel document, SELECT the third icon from the left on the Toolbar (it is supposed to look like a floppy disk). If you prefer, SELECT File on the Menu Bar and then choose Save As from the menu. You will arrive at the same menu if you choose the Save icon, or go through the File menu. Now, choose the Save As commands. For this particular exercise, save the file as Atm_mass.xls on your Z drive so you can have access to the saved file at another time.

There are two common methods to close a file. In the course of closing the program, any file you have open will be closed. Or you can close a file without closing the program. These two actions are represented by the two X's in the upper right corner. The X in the very top right (in the Title Bar) will close the program, Microsoft Excel. If you have not saved the file since you have made any changes, it will ask you if you wish to save the file. The other X (in the Menu Bar or the File Title Bar) will close the file, but not the program. It will prompt you to save the file you have been working on.

Reference –

Microsoft Excel 2002 Tutorials

Joseph F. Lomax, Chemistry Department, USNA.


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