# Appendix C: Overview of Microsoft Excel

Jeffrey Barry, The American Women's College, and Megan Piccus

Learning Objectives

• Examine the value of using Excel to make decisions.
• Learn how to start Excel.
• Become familiar with the Excel workbook.
• Understand how to navigate worksheets.
• Examine the Excel Ribbon.
• Examine the right-click menu options.
• Learn how to save workbooks.
• Examine the Status Bar.
• Become familiar with the features in the Excel Help window.

Microsoft® Office contains a variety of tools that help people accomplish many personal and professional objectives. Microsoft Excel is perhaps the most versatile and widely used of all the Office applications. No matter which career path you choose, you will likely need to use Excel to accomplish your professional objectives, some of which may occur daily. This chapter provides an overview of the Excel application along with an orientation for accessing the commands and features of an Excel workbook.

## Making Decisions with Excel

Taking a very simple view, Excel is a tool that allows you to enter quantitative data into an electronic spreadsheet to apply one or many mathematical computations. These computations ultimately convert that quantitative data into information. The information produced in Excel can be used to make decisions in both professional and personal contexts. For example, employees can use Excel to determine how much inventory to buy for a clothing retailer, how much medication to administer to a patient, or how much money to spend to stay within a budget. With respect to personal decisions, you can use Excel to determine how much money you can spend on a house, how much you can spend on car lease payments, or how much you need to save to reach your retirement goals. We will demonstrate how you can use Excel to make these decisions and many more throughout this text.

Figure 1.1 shows a completed Excel worksheet that will be constructed in this chapter. The information shown in this worksheet is top-line sales data for a hypothetical merchandise retail company. The worksheet data can help this retailer determine the number of salespeople needed for each month, how much inventory is needed to satisfy sales, and what types of products should be purchased.

## Starting Excel

1. Locate Excel on your computer.
2. Click Microsoft Excel to launch the Excel application and present you with workbook options.
3. Click the first option; “Blank Workbook.”
4. Locate Excel on your computer.
5. Click Microsoft Excel to launch the Excel application and present you with workbook options.
6. Click the first option; “Blank Workbook.”

## The Excel Workbook

Once Excel is started, a blank workbook will open on your screen. A workbook is an Excel file that contains one or more worksheets (sometimes referred to as spreadsheets). Excel will assign a file name to the workbook, such as Book1, as seen below and Book2, Book3, and so on, depending on how many new workbooks are opened. Figure 1.3 shows a blank workbook after starting Excel. Take some time to familiarize yourself with this screen. Your screen may be slightly different based on the version you are using.

## Navigating Worksheets

Data are entered and managed in an Excel worksheet. The worksheet contains several rectangles called cells for entering numeric and nonnumeric data. Each cell in an Excel worksheet contains an address, which is defined by a column letter followed by a row number. For example, the cell that is currently activated in Figure 1.3 is A1. This would be referred to as cell location A1 or cell reference A1. The following steps explain how you can navigate in an Excel worksheet:

1. Place your mouse pointer over cell D5 and left click.
2. Check to make sure column letter D and row number 5 are highlighted, as shown in Figure 1.5Note:  Your highlighted column letter and row number may be different than figure shown.
1. Move the mouse pointer to cell A1.
2. Click and hold the left mouse button and drag the mouse pointer back to cell D5.
3. Release the left mouse button. You should see several cells highlighted, as shown in Figure 1.6.

This is referred to as a cell range and is documented as follows: A1:D5. Any two cell locations separated by a colon are known as a cell range. The first cell is the top left corner of the range, and the second cell is the lower right corner of the range:

1. At the bottom of the screen, you will see worksheets. Depending on your version of Excel, you will see either three as displayed above or just one. If you only have one sheet, click the “Insert Worksheet” to add a worksheet. Depending on your version, you instead may have a + sign; a click on the + adds an additional worksheet as well. This is how you open or add a worksheet within a workbook. Add another worksheet so that you now have three sheets displaying here.
2. Click the Sheet1 worksheet tab at the bottom of the worksheet to return to the worksheet shown in Figure 1.6.

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