How to use Microsoft Excel

Updated on: January 6, 2023

Using Microsoft Excel is not rocket science, and you don’t need to be a super-expert to order your data; indeed, it is very intuitive. But, before creating pivot tables or applying complex rules to your cells, you can perform a couple of operations to start using Excel. Ready to know which they are? Let’s go!

Freeze panes

This feature can be handy, especially when having a massive spreadsheet with a lot of content, and it allows you to seal some cells and visualize them as headings or labels at all times, even if you scroll down or right. 

The heading usually is located at the top row or the first column. However, you can freeze two or more columns or cells according to your needs; you just ought to do the following:

  1. Select the row or columns you want to freeze:

Click on the row underneath your column headers. If you also want to freeze a row, you must select the column immediately following. Check the example:

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  1. Click on the “View” Tab. 
  2. Go to the “Window” group on the right side of the principal panel at the top.
  3. Choose the “Freeze panes” button.
  4. In the pop-up dialog window, you will see three options. Pick the one that you consider appropriate to your needs.
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Math functions

In Excel, you will likely use many values in your spreadsheet, which sometimes implies getting different results from any math function, also called formulas. You can make several formulas: obtain an average, search for a specific value, and even more. Nevertheless, as a school, you need first to know the main four math functions and how to write them:

  1. Addition: There are two syntaxes to sum.

For this and any kind of formula, you must type the equal sign (=) following the operation's name. In this concrete case, the syntaxis is “=SUM.” After that, open a parenthesis, then select the cell range you need and close the parenthesis.

Example: =SUM(A1:A34).

The second option is more manual: You must type the equal sign, then select one by one intersecting the plus sign (+) between each of them. 

Example: =A1+A30+B48.

  1. Subtraction: For this formula, the syntaxis will be like the second addition option because there is no subtraction function in Excel. This means you must type the equal sign, select the cell you want to subtract from, and type the minus icon, which on your keyboard is the hyphen (-). After that, click on the cell to subtract and hit enter.

Example: =A1-B2.

  1. Multiplication: For this formula, you must also type the equal sign, select a first cell, use the asterisk (*) symbol on your keyboard and choose the other cells.

Example: =A1*B1.

  1. Division: Alike the subtraction and multiplication operations, there's no division function, so you must use the forward slash (/) symbol as the next example:

Example: =A30/B2.

Note: You can make more complex formulas only with the main four.

Remove Duplicates:

It happens that when working with a vast table with several (almost infinite) columns and rows, you could have a few duplicates slipped through your fingers through no fault of your own. But relax, if this occurs to you, you should know that Excel has a fantastic aid to prevent this headache and the extra work of manually scrolling down and searching for each error. You just need to follow the steps below:

  1. Select the entire data set or table you have.
  2. Switch to the “Data” tab.
  3. Search the “Data Tools” group, which is about the right of the ribbon.
  4. Click on the “Remove duplicates” icon, represented by a rectangle divided between blue and white rows with an X red mark.
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  1. After that, a dialog box. Once there, you need to click on which column you want to find duplicates in.
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  1. Click on the “OK” button to confirm.

Changes across different worksheets:

Alright! So, when working in multiple tabs (not the ones in the ribbon, but those that you create and appear in the worksheet bottom) and having a set to put in everyone, it could be a truly stressful nightmare to go into each tab and make that change. Hopefully, Excel allows you to do this automatically by the following steps:

  1. On your keyboard, hold the Ctrl key.
  2. Select the tabs where you want the change to appear.
  3. Make the set or change in a cell of your current tab.
  4. Once you’re done, check the other worksheets to see if they’re set.

Of course, there are other functions you can learn, like creating tables, and macros, Using Data Validation, protecting a worksheet, or even splitting and merging cells. So don’t let anything stop your learning process. Good luck!

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
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