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A spreadsheet is a sheet of paper that shows accounting or other data in rows

and columns; a spreadsheet is also a computer application program that
simulates a physical spreadsheet by capturing, displaying, and
manipulating data arranged in rows and columns. The spreadsheet is one of
the most popular uses of the personal computer.

In a spreadsheet, spaces that hold items of data are called cells. Each cell is
labeled according to its placement (for example, A1, A2, A3...) and may have
an absolute or relative reference to the cells around it. A spreadsheet is
generally designed to hold numerical data and short text strings.
Spreadsheets usually provide the ability to portray data relationships
graphically. Spreadsheets generally do not offer the ability to structure and
label data items as fully as a database and usually do not offer the ability to
query the database. In general, a spreadsheet is a much simpler program
than a database program.

Daniel Bricklin and Bob Frankston created the first spreadsheet application,
VisiCalc (for "visible calculator"). Lotus 1-2-3 came next, followed by Microsoft
Excel. While Lotus 1-2-3 was the first to introduce cell names and macros,
Microsoft Excel implemented a graphical user interface and the ability to point
and click using a mouse. There are many other spreadsheet applications on
the market today; however, Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Excel continue to be the
most popular.

Code-named Odyssey, Excel is a software program

from Microsoft that is part of the Microsoft Office suite of software
programs. Developed by Microsoft and first released on September 30,
1985, Excel is capable of creating and editing spreadsheets that are
saved with a .xls or .xlsx file extension. General uses of Excel include
cell-based calculation, pivot tables, and various graphing tools. For
instance, with an Excel spreadsheet, you could create a monthly
budget, track business expenses, or sort and organize large amounts
of data.
Unlike a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, the Excel documents
consist of columns and rows of data, made up of individual cells. Each of
these cells can contain either text or numerical values that can be calculated
using formulas.
 Excel overview.
 How can Excel be formatted?
 Download an example of a spreadsheet file.
 Why do people use Excel?
 Why would someone use Excel over a different spreadsheet program?
 Related Excel pages.
 Microsoft Excel help and support.

Excel overview
Below is an example of Microsoft Excel with each of its major sections
highlighted. See the formula bar, cell, column, row, or sheet tab links for
further information about each of these sections.
How can Excel be formatted?
Each of the rows, columns, and cells can be modified in many ways,
including the background color, number or date format, size, text font,
layout, etc. In our above example, you can see that the first row (row 1) has
a blue background, bold text, and each cell has its text centered.
Download an example of a spreadsheet file
We've created a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that can be downloaded and
opened in any spreadsheet program including Microsoft Excel. This
spreadsheet helps illustrate some of the capabilities of a spreadsheet,
formulas, and functions used in a spreadsheet and allows you to experiment
more with a spreadsheet.
Download example.xls
Why do people use Excel?
There are many reasons people may use Excel (a spreadsheet program). For
example, someone might use Excel to keep track of their expenses. For a full
list of reason and examples of how people use a spreadsheet, see
our spreadsheet definition.
Why would someone use Excel over a different spreadsheet
Today, there are many different free spreadsheet options that someone
could use instead of Excel. However, even with the available free options,
Excel remains the most used spreadsheet because of all of its available
options, features, and because many businesses still use the program.
Spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel enable you to set up text and numbers in a row and
column-based interface that provides built-in resources for calculating and evaluating business data.
The look and function of a spreadsheet mimics the ledger books that accountants use to track costs
and profits, minus the need for manual calculations. Each part of a spreadsheet either contains,
calculates or displays information, making it easy to leverage company data to answer what-if
questions, find high- and low-performing assets, track employees and evaluate profits and losses.

Workbooks and Worksheets

Excel refers to its documents as workbooks. Within each file, individual worksheets function like the
pages in a ledger. Although you'll hear the word "spreadsheet" used to refer to Excel documents as
well as their pages, the term also applies to the type of software itself. By default, an Excel workbook
contains three worksheets, but the file format accommodates as many pages as your computer's
available memory allows. The workbook interface identifies each worksheet with a named tab that
you can customize to reflect its contents.

A worksheet cell exists at the intersection of a row and column, and can contain up to 32,767
characters. How you set up your data determines whether a row or a column represents the
equivalent of a full record of information. For example, each row can represent contact information
for an individual member of your staff or production information for a single item in your company's
lineup. To identify and reference your data, each cell carries an address that reflects the combination
of its column and row location. In Excel's default A1 reference style, columns use letters and rows
use numbers as identifiers, making the first cell in a workbook "A1." Excel also includes an alternate
reference style, R1C1, in which rows and columns both use numeric identifiers, turning cell A1 into
cell R1C1.

Within an individual Excel file, you can access up to 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns. To identify
row and column locations, Excel displays headings, prefabricated labels that appear to the left and
above the main data area of each worksheet. Clicking on an individual heading selects its
corresponding row or column of data. By default, Excel displays but does not print these headings,
but you can alter either or both of these settings in the program's preferences.

Formula Bar
Although you can use a spreadsheet to collect and display information without performing any data
manipulation on your aggregated text and numbers, spreadsheet software really shines when you
use its built-in functions and formulas to calculate and combine information. The formula bar
provides Excel's interface element through which to create formulas that find the highest or lowest
number in a series, display a result in another cell when parts of your data meet specific tests,
change the color of a cell's contents or background depending on the information it contains, or
combine text elements from multiple columns to turn an employee directory entry into the text for an
address. Each formula combines information from and about your data with functions that provide
prefabricated access to specific types of data inquiries and calculations.

Parts of Excel

Microsoft Excel XP is a spreadsheet application in the Microsoft Office suite. A

spreadsheet is an accounting program for the computer. Spreadsheets are
primarily used to work with numbers and text. Spreadsheets can help organize
information, such as alphabetizing a list of names or ordering records, and
calculate and analyze information using mathematical formulas.

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

 Identify the parts of the Excel window
 Understand the differences between a workbook and a worksheet
 Understand a cell and its importance to Excel
 Move around a workbook

The Excel window

Many items you see on the Excel XP screen are standard in most other
Microsoft software programs like Word, PowerPoint, and previous versions of
Excel, while some elements are specific to Excel XP.
Also called a spreadsheet, the workbook is a unique file created by Excel XP.

Title bar

The title bar displays both the name of the application and the name of the
Menu bar

The menu bar displays all of the menus available for use in Excel XP. The
contents of any menu can be displayed by left-clicking the menu name.

Some commands in the menus have pictures or icons associated with them.
These pictures may also appear as shortcuts in the toolbar.

Column headings

Each Excel spreadsheet contains 256 columns. Each column is named by a letter
or combination of letters.

Row headings

Each spreadsheet contains 65,536 rows. Each row is named by a number.

Name box

This shows the address of the current selection or active cell.

Formula bar

The formula bar isplays information entered—or being entered as you type—in
the current or active cell. The contents of a cell can also be edited in the formula


A cell is an intersection of a column and row. Each cell has a unique cell
address. In the picture above, the cell address of the selected cell is B3. The
heavy border around the selected cell is called the cell pointer.
Navigation buttons and sheet tabs

Navigation buttons allow you to move to another worksheet in an Excel

workbook. They are used to display the first, previous, next, and last worksheets
in the workbook.

Sheet tabs separate a workbook into specific worksheets. A workbook defaults

to three worksheets. A workbook must contain at least one worksheet.

Workbooks and worksheets

A workbook automatically shows in the workspace when you open Microsoft
Excel XP. Each workbook contains three worksheets. A worksheet is a grid of
cells consisting of 65,536 rows by 256 columns. Spreadsheet information—text,
numbers, or mathematical formulas—is entered into different cells.

Column headings are referenced by alphabetic characters in the gray boxes that
run across the Excel screen, beginning with column A and ending with column

Rows are referenced by numbers that appear on the left and then run down the
Excel screen. The first row is named row 1, while the last row is named 65536.

Important terms

 A workbook is made up of three worksheets.

 The worksheets are labeled Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3.
 Each Excel worksheet is made up of columns and rows.
 In order to access a worksheet, click the tab that says Sheet#.

The cell
An Excel worksheet is made up of columns and rows. Where these columns and
rows intersect, they form little boxes called cells. The active cell—or the cell
that can be acted upon—reveals a dark border. All other cells reveal a light gray
border. Each cell has a name. Its name is comprised of two parts: the column
letter and the row number.

In the following picture, the cell C3—formed by the intersection of column C

and row 3—contains the dark border. It is the active cell.
Important terms

 Each cell has a unique cell address composed of a cell's column

and row.
 The active cell is the cell that receives the data or command you
give it.
 A darkened border, called the cell pointer, identifies it.

Moving around the worksheet

You can move around the spreadsheet in several ways.

To move the cell pointer:

 To activate any cell, point to a cell with the mouse and click.
 To move the pointer one cell to the left, right, up, or down, use the
keyboard arrow keys.

To scroll through the worksheet:

The vertical scroll bar located along the right edge of the screen is used to
move up or down the spreadsheet. The horizontal scroll bar located at the
bottom of the screen is used to move left or right across the spreadsheet.
The PageUp and PageDown keys on the keyboard are used to move the cursor
up or down one screen at a time. Other keys that move the active cell are Home,
which moves to the first column on the current row, and Ctrl+Home, which
moves the cursor to the top-left corner of the spreadsheet, or cell A1.

To move between worksheets:

As mentioned, each workbook defaults to three worksheets. These worksheets
are represented by tabs—named Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3—that appear at the
bottom of the Excel window.

To move from one worksheet to another:

 Click the sheet tab—Sheet1, Sheet2 or Sheet 3—you want to
 Display the contents of every menu in the menu bar, and note the
icons associated with specific menu choices. Try to find the
pictures or shortcuts on the Standard toolbar.
 Click each of the three worksheet tabs—Sheet1, Sheet2 and
Sheet3—to become familiar moving from sheet to sheet in the
 Use the Page Up (PgUp) and Page Down (PgDn) keys to get used
to scrolling in a worksheet.
 Use the horizontal and vertical scrollbars to practice scrolling up,
down, left, and right in the worksheet.