Introduction to Microsoft Excel

Updated on: January 7, 2023

Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used tools nowadays. Almost every company needs to create worksheets in this program to organize their data. However, facing Excel for the very first time; it could be scary when opening a new file and you don’t even understand any aid you have in front of you. Well, keep reading because this article will introduce you to how to use Excel.

Once you open the program, you will see a worksheet composed of cells duly organized in columns and rows. The columns are tagged to the left to right by the alphabet, starting from the letter A and so on. Numbers classify the rows top-down. 

You can click on any cell in the worksheet and type the information you want to input, like texts, values, formulas, etc.

The ribbon

At the top of the worksheet, you will find a panel with options that will display some functions and subfunctions that will help you organize, visualize, type, and create the information you need. 

  • File: this tab is the first one you will see, but this only works when saving the document or getting information from the actual workbook. 
  • Home: Once you are working on the document, you will be on this tab, which has the principal set of tools and groups such as copy, paste, fonts, alignment, styles, cell format, and more.
  • Insert: as its name implies, this option will help you to insert text, graphics, images, and tables according to the data you have on the cells.
  • Page layout: It will set the look of the worksheet
  • Formulas will show the different math functions you can use to create or organize your data. This also can verify the errors you may have on the worksheet.
  • Data: This will validate your information and organize the rows and columns according to some features you must set.
  • Review: This is just for double-checking whatever text or value you have input on the worksheet.
  • View: This also works like Microsoft Word, which will personalize how you view your workspace in Excel.

Now, every tab has different group tools, which will help you locate the aid you need at every moment.

Navigation through the Worksheet

Once you open a new file in excel, you can use your mouse to select the tools and tabs from the ribbon. However, just like Microsoft Word, you can use your keyboard to scroll within the document: when using the Tab key, you can move to the right to the next cell in the following column. Or, when using the Enter key, you can move to the next row down.

Another way to navigate using the keyboard is by using the directional arrow keys, which correspond to Up, Right, Down and Left.

Expanding rows and columns

Well, the content you want to put into a cell will not always fit; it may span several columns, or on the contrary, the content of the next column will cut off the information. So, for that kind of situation, you can use two options to fix this.

The first one is going to the column or row where the cell you want to expand is placing the cursor at the right border. Notice that your cursor has changed, and now you have a black line with two tiny arrows on both sides. Click on the edge, grab and move it until you think the data fits.

To access the second option, you need to do the following steps:

  1. First, go to the “Home” tab.
  2. Search the “Alignment” group tools.
  3. Finally, click on the “Wrap Text” button.
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And that’s it. Excel will adjust the text according to the column size!

Handy shortcuts

Finally, there are some shortcuts you can hit on your keyboard that will make your life easier:

  • Ctrl ´+ C - to copy.
  • Ctrl ´+ X - to cut.
  • Ctrl + V - to paste.
  • Ctrl + Z - to undo something.
  • Ctrl + Bloq Mayus +  Z  - to re-do something you undo.
  • Ctrl + ; - To enter today’s date in a cell.
  • Double-clicking the “Fill handle” (the black plus at the bottom right corner of a cell) - to automatize the fill option according to the parameter of the first cell.

There you have it! Now you’re ready to use Excel and find new tools like tables! 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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