A complete guide on how to use Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel is arguably the most popular and powerful spread sheet program available today. There are many different spreadsheet programs available, but Microsoft Excel is used in almost every business around the world. Whether you work in an office or a factory you would have most likely used Microsoft Excel. The very power of Excel means a complete guide on how to use Microsoft Excel is essential. This guide starts with the very basics moving gradually on to the more complex functions Excel has to offer.
It’s also essential to understand Excel if you own your own business because Excel allows you to do complex calculations to make sure your business is making a profit. The use of Excel is endless and many companies around the world use Excel for more than just number crunching. There are many reasons for this; one of the biggest being most people have used Excel, so companies do not have to worry about training people on using new software. Another big reason is because it comes as standard with Microsoft Office, and unlike Microsoft Access, which is a hugely powerful program; Excel is more entry level when it comes to understanding how it works.
All spread sheet programs are powerful because of their number crunching capabilities. However, it is more than just number crunching that has made spread sheets popular. The second main reason for there universal use is formulas, which allows you to manipulate data to get an end result.
What is a spread sheet?
A spread sheet is a computer program that allows you to make calculations with numbers. At its very basic level a spread sheet is very similar to a calculator, as it gives you the ability to add/subtract/multiply/divide numbers.
The difference between a spread sheet and a calculator is the power a spread sheet can give you. Also, you can save your work on a spread sheet for future use. A spread sheet also allows you to setup formulas, which means you only need to consider the calculation once. This is because once you are certain you have your formula correct, you can use that formula for as long as it’s still needed; all you would need to do is to enter the figures for the formula to calculate.
The key to the spread sheet being successful is that it’s relatively easy to understand. At first it’s only natural for a spread sheet to appear daunting, but once you understand certain principles you’ll be confident using a spread sheet in every day life. If you understand numbers, and how to use numbers to get certain results, then you’ll realise spread sheets are an extremely powerful tool.
As mentioned earlier there are many different spread sheet programs available. However, this article concentrates on Excel. Although, all spread sheets have very similar ways of working, it’s important to remember the information going forward is based on Excel only.
Workbook, worksheets, rows, columns and cells
Excel is made up of hundreds of thousands of cells, which are contained within thousands of row and columns. These cells sit in a ‘tab’ or ‘worksheet’ and a worksheet sits inside a workbook. This may sound confusing, so why not watch our video, which explains the workbook, worksheets, row, columns and cells in Excel.
Using basic formulas to add/subtract/multiply and divide in Excel
Excel is great at number crunching and although Excel is extremely powerful and capable of dealing with the costs associated with a FTSE 100 company. The majority of the time Excel can be used for much more simpler calculations like you would get on your standard calculator.
To calculate numbers in Excel you must first enter the number you want to calculate. You do this by entering the numbers you want to calculate into separate cells within Excel. As you can see from the spread sheet below. This Excel spread sheet shows the number of sales done on a weekly basis. These figures are split down into daily figures, and who in the team made the sales. So it’s important to remember for Excel to provide you with the right calculations, you must ensure you enter the correct data. If you enter incorrect data then don’t be surprised if Excel then gives you incorrect information.
You can see from the above that we now have all the sales figures for each member of the team for a whole week. Now we can use simple formulas to manipulate these numbers, so we can see immediately who is performing and who is under performing and needs more support.
How to add numbers together in Excel
Excel allows you to create formulas in more than one way. This may appear confusing at first because you would assume a calculation must be done a certain way. However, Excel allowing you to use different formulas to calculate numbers makes Excel easier to use. This is because some people will find certain formulas easier to understand than others. This is great, but you must always remember the easier to understand formulas will not always be suitable to your situation.
How to use ExcelUsing the above I will show you how to add numbers together, which gives exactly the same results, but using totally different formulas. If I wanted to know what the total sales were for Monday I would need to add the following cells together:
Cells: B5, B6, B7, B8, B9, B10
You could add these cells together using any of the following formulas. None of these formulas are incorrect, and there is no right or wrong way of using Excel. Providing you get the desired figure then it does not matter. However, as mentioned earlier, you will realise over time that some formulas are only suitable for certain situations.
Formula to add cells B5 to B10
Both of the above formulas will give the same result, which is 97. The first formula may feel the most logical to use, but as you can see it also requires the most work. Imagine if you had 20 members of the sales team. The formula would have to be the following:
You can immediately see how time consuming it would be using the above formula. However, if you used the second formula your formula would look like this:
As you can see the second formula would be much quicker to use, and this is why you should always consider what formula to use depending on the situation. It’s a good idea to try and get used to using the =sum rather than the longer formula, as this is what makes Excel so convenient to use.
Watch the video to see how you can use basic formulas to calculate numbers in Excel
If you want to get a good understanding on how to do basic calculations watch the following video How to do basic calculations in Excel. This video looks at add/subtract/multiply/divide and also takes a look at averages.
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