The Beginner's Guide to Excel - Excel Basics Tutorial



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How to Use Excel

Five Parts:

This wikiHow teaches you how to set up and use Microsoft Excel on your Windows or Mac computer.

Steps

Preparing to Use Excel

  1. Open an existing Excel document.If you want to open an existing Excel document at any time, simply double-click the document in question. This will bring up the document in an Excel window.
    • Skip this step if you want to open a new document in Excel.
  2. Open Excel.Click or double-click the Excel app icon, which resembles a white "X" on a dark-green background.
  3. Select a template if necessary.If you want to use an Excel template (e.g., a budget planner template), scroll down until you find the template you want to use and then click it once to open its window.
    • If you just want to open a new blank Excel document, click theBlankoption in the upper-left side of the page and then skip the next step.
  4. ClickCreate.It's to the right of the template's name.
  5. Wait for the Excel workbook to open.This will take a few seconds. Once you see the Excel template or blank page, you can proceed with entering your sheet's data.

Entering Data

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Excel ribbon tabs.In the green "ribbon" at the top of the Excel window, you'll see a series of tabs. Each of these tabs can be used to access different Excel tools; the main ones you'll need to know include the following:
    • Home— Contains options for formatting text, changing cell background color, and so on.
    • Insert— Contains options for tables, charts, graphs, and equations.
    • Page Layout— Contains options for page margins, orientation, and themes.
    • Formulas— Contains various formula options as well as a function menu.
  2. Consider using the top row of cells for headers.When adding data to a blank spreadsheet, you can use the top cell in each column (e.g.,A1,B1,C1, etc.) as your column heading. This is helpful when creating graphs or tables which require labels.
  3. Select a cell.Click the cell into which you want to enter data.
    • For example, if you're using a budget-planning template, you might click the first empty cell to select it.
  4. Enter text.Type in whatever you want to add to the cell.
  5. PressEnter.Doing so adds it to the cell and moves your selection to the next available cell.
  6. Edit your data.To go back and edit data later, click the cell you want to edit, then change whatever you need to change in the text box above the top row of cells.
  7. Format text if necessary.If you want to change the way a cell's text is formatted (e.g., if you want to change it from money formatting to date formatting), click theHometab, click the drop-down box at the top of the "Number" section, and click the type of formatting you want to use.

Using Formulas

  1. Select a cell for your formula.Click the cell in which you want to create a formula.
  2. Perform basic operations.You can add, subtract, divide, and multiply cell values with the following formulas:
    • Add— Type=SUM(cell+cell)(e.g.,=SUM(A3+B3)) to add two cells' values together, or type {{kbd|=SUM(cell,cell,cell) (e.g.,=SUM(A2,B2,C2)) to add a series of cell values together.
    • Subtract— Type=SUM(cell-cell)(e.g.,=SUM(A3-B3)) to subtract one cell value from another cell's value.
    • Divide— Type=SUM(cell/cell)(e.g.,=SUM(A6/C5)) to divide one cell's value by another cell's value.
    • Multiply— Type=SUM(cell*cell)(e.g.,=SUM(A2*A7)) to multiply two cell values together.
  3. Add a whole column of numbers.If you want to add all of the numbers in a whole column (or in a section of a column), type=SUM(cell:cell)(e.g.,=SUM(A1:A12)) into the cell you want to use to display the result.
  4. Select a cell for an advanced formula.To use a more advanced formula, you'll use the Insert Function tool. Start by clicking the cell in which you want to display your formula.
  5. ClickFormulas.It's a tab at the top of the Excel window.
  6. ClickInsert Function.This option is in the far-left side of theFormulastoolbar. Doing so opens a window.
  7. Select a function.Click in the window the function you want to use, then clickOK.
    • For example, to select the formula for finding the tangent of an angle, you would scroll down and click theTANoption.
  8. Fill out the function's form.When prompted, type in the number (or select a cell) for which you want to use the formula.
    • For example, if you select theTANfunction, you'll type in the number for which you want to find the tangent.
    • Depending on your selected function, you may need to click through a couple of on-screen prompts.
  9. PressEnter.Doing so applies your function and displays it in your selected cell.

Creating Charts

  1. Set up the chart's data.If you're creating a line graph or a bar graph, for example, you'll want to use one column of cells for the horizontal axis and one column of cells for the vertical axis.
    • Typically speaking, the left column is used for the horizontal axis and the column immediately to the right of it represents the vertical axis.
  2. Select the data.Click and drag your mouse from the top-left cell of the data down to the bottom-right cell of the data.
  3. ClickInsert.It's a tab at the top of the Excel window.
  4. ClickRecommended Charts.You'll find this option in the "Charts" section of theInserttoolbar. A window with different chart templates will appear.
  5. Select a chart template.Click the chart template you want to use.
  6. Click .It's at the bottom of the window. Doing so creates your chart.
  7. Edit your chart's title.Double-click the title at the top of the chart, then delete and replace the chart's current title with your own title.

Saving an Excel Project

  1. Click .It's in the upper-left side of the Excel window (Windows) or the screen (Mac). A menu will appear.
  2. ClickSave As.This is on the left side of the page if you're using Windows.
    • On a Mac, you'll click this in theFiledrop-down menu.
  3. Double-clickThis PC.It's in the middle of the page.
    • On Mac, clickOn my Macinstead.
  4. Enter a name for your project.Type whatever you want to name your spreadsheet into the "File name" (Windows) or "Name" (Mac) text box in the Save As window.
  5. Select a save folder.Click the folder in which you want to save your spreadsheet.
    • On a Mac, you may first need to click the "Where" drop-down box before you can select a file.
  6. Click .It's at the bottom of the window. Doing so saves your spreadsheet in the selected folder under the specified name.
  7. Save future edits with the "Save" keyboard shortcut.If you're editing the Excel document in the future, pressingCtrl+S(Windows) orCommand+S(Mac) will save your changes to the document without bringing up the Save As window.

Community Q&A

Search
  • Question
    How do I make cells large enough to fit the data I put into a cell?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Click the cell, then drag the column of the cell, from the top to the desired size
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do I move cell contents to another cell?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Highlight the cell, right-click, and click Copy. Click destination cell, right-click and Paste.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    Can I add work sheets on Excel?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. At the bottom left of the Excel you will see the list of sheets. To the left of those sheets you will find a "+" sign. Click on it.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do you add a check mark or an X mark to a cell?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can go into Insert, then Symbol, and choose the symbol you want. After that, you can just copy and paste the symbol from one cell to another.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How can I sort columns alphabetically?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Highlight the column that you would like to sort. Then, go to "Sort and Filter" on the Home tab and click the option to sort from A-Z.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do I download Excel?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Excel comes with the OS (operating system) you already have, if it is Microsoft. If you use Microsoft, it should be on your computer, just search for it in the Start Menu. If you are using a Mac, you will not find "Microsoft Excel", but a program similar to it.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do I carry headings from one sheet to the next?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Highlight the row with the headings and copy. Open a new sheet. Highlight the first cell (A1) in the new sheet, and paste.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    The arrows do not work. How do I turn this function on?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Click in the cell you are wanting to move. You will see a dark boarder around the cell. Hold you pointer over one of the sides and the arrows will appear.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do I print titles on columns?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Click on the cell where you want the title to highlight it, and type in your title.
    Thanks!
  • Question
    How do I delete unwanted cells in Excel?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Highlight the cells you don't want and go to the Home tab and click on Delete Cells.
    Thanks!
Unanswered Questions
  • How to use billing in computer?
  • How do I copy rows from one place in the worksheet to another, keeping the same height format of the rows? There is an option for columns but none for rows.
  • How do I format find results?
  • How can I learn all modules of Excel?
  • How do I insert an Excel file into Word?
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of How to Use Excel was reviewed on September 26, 2019.

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Cheryl Ell

Jul 3, 2019

"I am applying for a job that requires comprehensive knowledge of Excel. Well, I don't have it, but this articlelets me know enough to sound intelligent and truthfully claim I can use the program. Thank you very much!"

Jan Adams

Oct 2, 2019

"I decided to move our book-keeping from the dark ages, that is pencil & paper, into the 21 century. It isstraight forward and easy to understand. This article has helped immensely! Thank you so much! "
Rated this article:

Helen Mark

Dec 26, 2019

"I have never used Excel before, and didn't know were to start. This has been so helpful to me, thank you so much.I start a new job hopefully this week, and I needed to learn as much as I could. "

Christine Henningfeld

Aug 21, 2019

"Looking for step-by-step tutorial on a simple scenario for a friend new to computers. This was great, the exampleswere so simple and not cluttered. Very realistic for a beginner."

Jessica Doolittle

Jun 7, 2019

"I had learned how to use Excel in middle school, but I hadn't used it since. I was needing a quick refresher for ajob I wanted, and this helped bring it (mostly) back. "

B. J.

Nov 29, 2019

"First time using Excel. Information in article was clear and I was successful doing the basics. Look forward tolearning more about Excel via this article."
Rated this article:

Elishba Sohail

Jul 27, 2019

"I already know about excel, and used it a couple of years age. I know I forgot about it, and wikiHow reminded me ofeverything again."

Vickie Cooley

Jun 16, 2019

"I needed a refresher course just to remember how to create spreadsheets. If you don't use it, you lose it.Excellent article. "
Rated this article:

Eyitayo Makinde

Mar 21, 2019

"So good and easy to use. I had to create a user guide on Excel and I didn't know what to do, so I just copied andpasted this."

Anum Ahmed

Apr 30, 2019

"It helps me a lot. In fact, this is the only article which I found to be the best when I was searching on theinternet."
Rated this article:

Susan Jane

Nov 9, 2019

"I have been plunging into Excel without knowing what I was doing, so this is a very useful guide to the basics."
Rated this article:

Thomas Musonda

Nov 17, 2019

"It has helped me to understand how to make my own programs and become a great Windows user. "

Giles V.

Mar 20, 2019

"I wanted to know about converting data to charts, and this tutorial was immensely helpful."
Rated this article:

Dipuo Pule

Oct 18, 2019

"Very helpful. It's the little things we take for granted. I learned something today. "
Rated this article:

Edgar Rodriguez

Jul 1, 2019

"I have learned so much. President Trump was right, education is the key to success."

Gibson Gibi

Aug 1, 2019

"It helped me to understand more about Excel work in data and organizing budget. "

Faris Abdulrauf

May 5, 2019

"It helped me with knowing how to make calculations. I think I know the way now."

Deboshree Karmakar

Mar 4, 2019

"It was so helpful. I'm a beginner, and it helped me a lot. Thanks!"

Nitin Agrawal

Apr 4, 2019

"This is a mind-blowing article, it helps me a lot in using Excel."
Rated this article:

Prasanna De Mel

Jun 2, 2019

"Interesting and informative. Very much appreciated, thanks."

Rahul Unnithan

Jun 7, 2019

"This was very helpful and easy to understand. Thank you."

Anonymous

Jan 11, 2019

"Knowing the difference between rows and columns helps. "

Ronald Nyabocho

Sep 13, 2019

"The step-by-step approach on how to use Excel helped."

Maxima Slater

May 30, 2019

"Learned the basics of Excel navigation.





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Date: 07.12.2018, 15:52 / Views: 72153