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see below

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Getting Started

Read this assignment. 

Getting Started

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application that's used to store, analyze, and present data. It can be used for budgets, payroll, inventory, sales figures, and much more.

The instructions to start Excel will vary depending on your installation. However, you'll most likely need to click the Excel icon in the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen or double-click the icon on the desktop.

Excel is a popular program in many workplace settings. Because of its versatility, it can be used to organize data in a number of ways. Here are two professions where Excel might be used daily.

  • Veterinary Assistant
    • Record client appointments, admissions, information (breed, coat color, gender), treatments, medications, and payments.
    • Organize data to create charts and graphs from this information. For example, the veterinary assistant could see which type of heartworm medication is the most popular with their clients or whether the number of spayed or neutered cats changes over time.
  • Guest Services Agent
    • Record room or restaurant reservations made online or over the phone to see changing trends over time.
    • Create a graph showing which month the hotel had the most reservations, to be prepared for the next year. Data can also be organized showing when families booked rooms versus individuals or couples; when and how often clients used the concierge, restaurant, or room service options; or which amenities clients found satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

The Excel Window

After starting Excel, the first thing you'll see is a screen with links to recently opened documents on the left. On the right are links to create a new blank workbook or one based on a template.

The screen you'll see after starting Excel. You’ll see this screen after starting Excel.

Click Blank workbook to display the Excel window with a new spreadsheet. Workbook refers to the entire Excel file, which contains one or more worksheets. The Excel window displays a single worksheet, also called a sheet, which is the Excel term for a spreadsheet.

An Excel Window with a Blank Workbook. An Excel Window with a Blank Workbook

Other features of the Excel window include the following:

  • The Quick Access Toolbar, which is located on the upper left of the Excel window, contains shortcuts to commonly used commands. The default shortcuts are Save, Undo, and Redo. You can click the last icon, Customize Quick Access Toolbar, to add or remove shortcuts.
  • The file name (the workbook name) is displayed in the top center of the window. When you save a new workbook, the name you provide will be displayed here.
  • Window controls in the upper-right corner are the Minimize button, which hides a window; the Restore button, which reduces or expands the window size; and the Close button, which closes the application window.
  • The Ribbon contains Excel commands. Commands are organized into tabs that run along the top of the Ribbon. Clicking a tab displays a different set of commands. Within a tab, commands are grouped. Some groups include a dialog box launcher—a small arrow icon—in the lower-right corner that you can click to display a dialog box or task pane with additional options related to the group. Some commands on the Ribbon have an arrow you click to display a menu of additional options.
  • The File tab is different from other Ribbon tabs. You click File to display the Backstage view with options for opening, saving, printing, sharing, and closing a file. To get back to the spreadsheet window without executing a command on the File screen, click the Back Arrow in the upper left of the screen or press the Esc key.
  • The Tell Me box is a search tool and help feature. When you can't locate a command, or when you want to learn how to perform an action, click Tell Me or press Alt+Q and type any word or phrase in the box to display a menu of related search results. The results will include related commands and an option to display a help dialog box with more information.
  • Columns run vertically and are identified with letters.
  • Rows run horizontally and are identified with numbers.
  • A cell is the intersection of a row and column and has a cell name, which is made up of the cell's location in a column and row, such as A1. The name of the selected cell is displayed above the sheet in the Name Box. The cell name is also called the cell reference.
  • The active cell is also called the selected cell. It has a bold border and is where the data you type will appear.
  • The formula bar is displayed above the column letters and displays the contents of a cell.
  • Scroll bars are located along the right side of the window and below the worksheet. You use them to bring unseen cells into view.
  • The Sheet tab is displayed at the bottom of a worksheet. Clicking the New Sheet button adds an additional sheet to the workbook.
  • The status bar runs along the bottom of the window. On the right side of the status bar is a zoom slider you can use to change the magnification of your worksheet. Icons for changing the worksheet view are also near the zoom slider.
  • ScreenTips are small boxes that pop up when pointing to a command on the Ribbon or other features on the Excel document window. ScreenTips display information about a feature, including keyboard shortcuts for executing the feature without having to remove your hands from the keyboard.

Working with Input Devices

The input devices you'll most likely use with Excel are the keyboard and the mouse or touch pad. You use the mouse or touch pad to point to commands and cells, to click commands and cells, and to drag cells.

The keyboard is used to enter data into your worksheet. The data you type appears in the active cell. Along with keys for typing data, the keyboard has keys for selecting a cell and communicating with Excel:

  • The Tab key moves to the next cell in a row.
  • The Enter key moves to the next cell in a column.
  • The arrow keys select the next cell in the direction of the arrow. Ctrl+arrow selects the last cell with data.
  • The Home key selects the cell at the beginning of a row. Ctrl+Home and Ctrl+End move the insertion point to the first or last cell of data.
  • The Delete key is used to remove the active cell contents.
  • The Page Up and Page Down keys are used to scroll a sheet within the window.
  • The Esc key's function varies depending on the action, but it’s commonly used to cancel the current operation.

Freeze Worksheet Rows and Columns

Freezing panes allows you to keep one area of a worksheet static while letting you scroll to a different area within that worksheet. To freeze panes, go to the View tab and lock your selected rows and columns so the data is stationary on the sheet. The split panes view will create separate windows within the same worksheet.

Freeze the first column by selecting View > Freeze Panes > Freeze First Column. A line will appear after the first column, between A and B, to show that the first column is frozen. To freeze the first two columns, select the third column and click View > Freeze Panes > Freeze Panes.

To freeze columns and rows, select the cell below the rows and to the right of the column or columns you want to keep visible when you scroll. Then select View > Freeze Panes > Freeze Panes.

Change Window Views

When working in Excel, especially with multiple sheets, it may become necessary to view data from multiple sheets together at one time to compare and contrast data more easily. To change the windows view of workbooks and spreadsheets from the View and Window group, use the options Arrange All, Split, and Side by Side.

  • Arrange All allows for all open windows to be arranged in an easy-to-see format, cascading the sheets so they're individually accessible.
  • Split view splits the section of the current worksheet into four sections, allowing you to scroll to different areas in the spreadsheet, while freezing other areas.
  • The Side by Side view arranges the window so two worksheets are arranged side by side for easy comparison and viewing.
An image of the toolbar in Excel showing the Review, View, Developer, Help, and Power Pivot tabs at the top with the word View underlined to indicate that tab is opened.The toolbar contains various functions.

Modify Workbook Properties

In Excel, Workbook properties can identify key pieces of information like who created a file, when it was created, when it was last modified, and what the current status is. Workbook properties include a function that allows you to add tags to a workbook file. Tags are short descriptions, or keywords, that help identify the kind of content contained within a file.


The Microsoft Excel application has many features. You can use the Tell Me box to help you understand these features. Explore the features of Excel by typing questions or phrases related to document creation into the Tell Me box. Click the Get Help option at the bottom of the menu to learn more.


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