Microsoft Excel provides a grid interface
to organize nearly any type of information.
The power of Excel lies in it's flexibility to define
the layout and structure of the information you
want to manage. Basic tasks require no special
training, and Excel allows you to work with text,
numbers, and date information in a relatively open
and unstructured way. Nearly 30 years after
it's initial introduction, Excel remains the worlds
leading spreadsheet software.
article provides an introduction to Microsoft Excel,
major uses, and key features every Excel user should
be aware of.
Excel is used widely in any financially-related
activity. The ability to create new spreadsheets
where users can define custom formulas to calculate
anything from a simple quarterly forecast to a full
corporate annual report makes Excel highly appealing.
Excel is also used widely for common information
organization and tracking like a list of sales leads,
project status reports, contact lists, and invoicing.
Finally, Excel is a useful tool for scientific and
statistical analysis with large data sets.
Excel's statistical formulas and graphing can help
researches perform variance analysis, chi-square
testing, and chart complex data.
An Excel document is called a
Workbook. A workbook always has at least one Worksheet.
Workseets are the grid where you can store and calculate
data. You can have many worksheets stored inside
a workbook, each with a unique worksheet name.
Worksheets are laid out in columns (vertical) and
rows (horizontal). The intersection of any given
row and column is a cell. Cells are really where
you enter any information. A cell will accept
a large amount of text, or you can enter a date, number,
or formula. Each cell can be formatted individually
with distinct border, background color, and font color/size/type.
You can create simple and complex
formulas in Excel to calculate just about anything.
Inputs to a formula may be other cells, the results
of other formulas, or just straight-forward math (5*2+3).
Excel includes a formula library for calculating things
Net Present Value (NPV),
standard deviation, interest payments over time,
and other common financial and mathematic formulae.
Excel's formula bar includes a feature to help you search
for a formula you need, and also helps you select the
appropriate cells in your workbook to calculate the
Excel offers a wide array of
charts to visualize data. They range from simple
line graphs to bubble and radar charts. Excel
has two main tools for charting: standard charts
and pivot charts.
A standard chart is relatively static
one you create it. As you change data in your spreadsheet,
related cells will refresh the chart to show the new updates.
A pivot chart is more dynamic, allowing you to "slice-and-dice"
your data in several different ways by choosing which columns
contain the information you want to group by, or apply mathematical
operations (sum, count, average, find the maximum, etc).
A common question is when to use
the table layouts in Word, and when to use Excel to present
a list. Both have important features appropriate for
specific uses. Even if you have a Word document where
you want to display tabular information, the easiest path
may be to embedd an Excel sheet within the Word document.
In general, Excel shines with sorting, conditional formatting,
and when the table should be dynamically calculated (to
save from copy/pasting into Word as totals change).
On the other hand, if your table is mostly just textual
information, Word is an excellent tool to display the tabular
Primarily textual information
Text and numeric/date information
Word table or Excel
Numeric information based on dynamic calculations
Conditional formatting of date fields compared
to current date