Start using Excel

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The best way to learn about Excel 2013 is to start using it. Create a blank workbook and learn the basics of working with columns, cells, and data.

Start using Excel

  • The best way to learn about Excel 2013 is to start using it.

  • You can open an existing workbook, or start with a template. Then, add some data into cells, use the ribbon, use the mini toolbar.

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What's new in Excel 2013

Basic tasks in Excel 2013

The best way to learn about Excel 2013 is to start using it.

This is what you see when you start Excel for the first time.

You can open an existing workbook over here or start with a template.

Since this is our first time, let's keep it simple and select Blank workbook.

The area down here is where you create your worksheet.

And you'll find all the tools you need to work on it, up here, in this area called the ribbon.

In this area, you'll find the name box and formula bar.

You'll see what those do as we go along. Now click somewhere in the work area.

These little rectangles, called cells, each hold one piece of information: some text, a number, or a formula.

Let's say we want to create a worksheet to track expenses on an expansion project.

Type the first budget item, and press Enter.

There are literally millions of cells in a worksheet, but each one can be identified using this grid system of rows and columns.

For example, the address of this cell is C6; column C, row 6.

The name box shows which cell is selected. You'll see why addresses are important later. Next, type the other budget items.

This is a breakdown of the work required for the expansion project.

If the text doesn't fit in the cells, come up here, and hold the mouse over the column border until you see a double-headed arrow.

Then, click and drag the border to widen the column.

Now to make our worksheet more interesting, let's add rough estimates for each work item in the next column.

To make the numbers look like $ amounts, we'll add some formatting.

First, select the numbers by clicking the first number and dragging the mouse down the list.

The gray highlighting and green border mean the cells are selected.

Right-click the selection, and the right-click menu opens along with this box up here called the mini-toolbar.

The mini-toolbar changes depending on what you select.

In this case, it contains commands for formatting the cells.

Click the $ sign to format the numbers as $ amounts.

Now it is beginning to look more like a worksheet.

To make it official, let's add a header row up here, so that anyone who looks at the worksheet will know what the data means in each column.

Next, let's do something to the data to make it easier to work with.

Select the header and data. Click the top left corner, and drag the mouse to the bottom right.

This time, instead of right-clicking, just hold the mouse over the selection, and a button appears.

Click it and the Quick Analysis lens opens.

This contains a set of tools for helping you analyze your data.

Click TABLES, and then click Table. The data is converted to a table.

You don't have to do this, but working with data as a table has certain advantages.

For example, you can click these arrows to quickly sort or filter the data.

You also have a lot of commands and options to choose from, up here on the ribbon.

For example, we can add a Total Row to the table or remove the Banded Rows.

While we're up here, let's take a closer look at the ribbon.

The commands and options you can work with are organized into these tabs.

Most of the commands, you'll need are on the HOME tab.

For example, you can come here to format text and numbers, or change a Cell Style.

The INSERT tab has commands for inserting things, like pictures and charts.

We'll look at some of the other tabs later in the course.

The TABLE TOOLS DESIGN tab is called a contextual tab because it appears only when you are working on the table.

When you select a cell outside the table, the tab goes away.

You'll also see contextual tabs when you are working with other insertable objects, like Sparklines and Pivot Charts.

Our worksheet is pretty small now, but there's plenty of room to grow in Excel as your project expands.

However, before we do any more work, let's save the workbook.

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