Excel Tutorial

This tutorial is copyrighted by the Department of Computer Science at The University of Rhode Island. It may be freely copied and used providing that acknowledgement is given to the URI Dept. of Computer Science and that it is not used for profit. Questions should be sent to Dr. Fay-Wolfe (wolfe@cs.uri.edu).

Topic One: What is Excel?
Topic Two: Getting Started
Topic Three: Creating a Simple Workbook
Topic Four: Writing Formulas Using Operators and Functions
Topic Five: Formatting The Appearance of a Workbook
Topic Six: Advanced Excel (Copying Cells)
Topic Seven: Linking Documents in Excel
Topic Eight: Creating Charts

What is Excel?

Microsoft Excel is an electronic spreadsheet program.

You might of heard the terms "spreadsheet" and "worksheet". People generally use them interchangebly. To remain consistent with Microsoft and other publishers the term worksheet refers to the row-and-column matrix sheet on which you work upon and the term spreadsheet refers to this type of computer application. In addition, the term workbook will refer to the book of pages that is the standard Excel document.The workbook can contain worksheets,chart sheets, or macro modules.

The Spreadsheet Concept

The Workbook

Most of the Excel screen is devoted to the display of the workbook. The workbook consists of grids and columns. The intersection of a row and column is a rectangular area called a cell.


The workbook is made up of cells.There is a cell at the intersection of each row and column.A cell can contain a value, a formula, or a text entry. A text entry is used to label or explain the contents of the workbook. A value entry can either be a constant or the value of a formula. The value of a formula will change when the components (arguments) of the formula change. The appeal of spreadsheet programs is the ability to change one value and watch all other values that depend on that first value automatically change when the spreadsheet is recalculated.

Rows, Columns, and Sheets

The Excel worksheet contains 16,384 rows that extend down the worksheet, numbered 1 through 16384.

The Excel worksheet contains 256 columns that extend across the worksheet, lettered A through Z, AA through AZ, BA through BZ, and continuing to IA through IZ.

The Excel worksheet can contain as many as 256 sheets, labeled Sheet1 through Sheet256. The initial number of sheets in a workbook,which can be changed by the user is 16.

Cell References

Cell references are the combination of column letter and row number. For example, the upper-left cell of a worksheet is A1.

The Excel Window

You will learn about Excel's toolbars and entering information into a workbook in the next part of the tutorial.

Main Menu

Getting Started

Throughout the tutorial you will have two windows active; a window displaying the tutorial and a window displaying an Excel workbook. Let's begin.

Find and Open Excel 97.

Resize and position then window displaying the tutorial next to the blank Excel workbook.

Excel displays a new workbook when it is opened. In a new workbook all the cells are empty. A cell is active when the border is highlighted in blue. When you enter information, the information is stored in the active cell. Let's learn how to enter information into a workbook.

Entering Information Into a Workbook

Entering Text and Constants

Click on the Excel window, select a cell by clicking on it, and enter: Excel is fun.

Observe the following:

Observe that your text is displayed in two areas. Text is displayed in the active cell within the workbook and it is also displayed in the formula bar. The formula bar is activated as soon as you begin typing in a cell. At the far left is the reference section, which will show the reference of the active cell.

Next to the formula bar are the Cancel and Enter buttons (). The Cancel and Enter buttons are only visible while Excel is in edit mode. Excel is in edit mode anytime you begin typing an entry. To put Excel in edit mode, click in the formula bar.

Within the Excel window, click in the formula bar to display the Cancel and Enter buttons.

The Enter button enters the text you typed into the cell. You could also press the Return key on the keyboard.

If you want to edit the text you entered into a cell, you click the formula bar, type your changes and click on the Enter button.

The Cancel button cancels your changes.

Within the Excel window, click in the formula bar and change the text: fun, to outrageous.

Click on the Enter button to enter the edit.

Click on the Cancel button to cancel the edit.

Entering constant values is the same as entering text, except that constant values are right-justified by default. You will learn how to change this default when you learn other formatting changes.

Entering Formulas

All formulas in Excel must begin with an equal sign (=). When a formula is entered into a cell, the formula itself is displayed in the formula bar when that cell is highlighted, and the result of the formula is displayed in the actual cell. When you are typing in formulas, do not type spaces; Excel will delete them.

Within the Excel window, select cell A2 and enter the constant value 12. (Remeber to click the Enter button or the Return key when you are done typing).

Within the Excel window, select cell A3 and enter the constant value 15.

Within the Excel window, select cell A4 and click on the formula bar.

Within the formula bar, enter an equal sign followed by A3+A4.


Click on the Enter button or press the Return key to enter the formula.

Your worksheet should look as follows:

Excel displays the result of the formula in cell A4.

Within the Excel window, select cell A3 and change the number 15 to the number 40, and enter the edit.

The formula value should have changed in cell A4 to the number 52.

Now that you know how to enter information into an Excel workbook it is time to create a simple workbook.

Next Topic: Creating a Workbook
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