Spreadsheet Basics

Starting the Program
Leaving the Program
Entering Stuff
Here are some basics you need to work with the spreadsheet. To accomplish something fancier, try it, or look to the HELP Menu, a user's manual, your teammates, lab assistant, etc. The more you practice, the sooner it becomes a familiar tool. -- Dr. Lesser 
Starting the Program:

Procedure may vary with lab/computer. Double-click Excel group icon then double-click Microsoft Excel program icon. Selecting "New" from File menu starts new spreadsheet. See hardcopy Handout for anatomy of application window, which includes the document window (which is the actual worksheet you create). To open a previously saved worksheet, insert your disk in the disk drive, then use the Open command from the File menu. Open File and New Document commands are also icons in the Toolbar.

Leaving the Program:

First, make sure you save any desired changes to your worksheet. To save a new worksheet you just created: Insert a formatted disk (bring to class; they may be available for sale in the lab) in the appropriate disk drive, choose File from the menu bar, click on Save As and give the file a name of up to 8 alphanumeric characters. Default file type is Normal, which means the worksheet is saved as an XLS Excel spreadsheet file. A separately saved chart is saved as an XLC Excel chart file. You can store (with Save As) general useful settings in a XTL Template file that can be retrieved from your disk the next time ready to be filled in with new data.

Make sure you got any needed printouts (print commands are in the File menu; you can use Print Preview/Setup to choose if you want margin lines, headings and gridlines, headers, footers, etc.). The Save and Print commands are also icons in the Toolbar.

Close (in File menu) open document windows, exit Excel program, & take your disk with you!!! 

ENTERING stuff: select cell, type in label or value, press ENTER.

Label is text entry (use single quotes to enter numbers as labels: '30'); default is left-aligned; labels do not have to fit completely inside the cells

Value is either a formula or numerical data:

Remember that operations are done in this order: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, addition, comparison. So for example, if you type A1 + A2/6, EXCEL will interpret that as A1 + (A2/6), not (A1 + A2)/6, since multiplication and division are done before addition and subtraction.

For a final example, I can have a cell list a letter grade from a percentage stored in cell J2 using a logical function involving nested if statements: :

Other functions can be selected via the function wizard, whose icon is: fx.
While normal text and data are displayed as is in the cell, you will see that formulas and functions display the result in the cell while the formula or function is displayed in the workspace. If you want to see all the formulas at once, use Display from the Options pulldown menu.

When you drag-copy a formula (at the SE corner, cursor becomes a + and can then click and drag down a column), cell references such as H16 will change relative to the formula's new location. When you don't want that to happen (i.e., you want the cell referred to not to change when the formula is copied), refer to the cell with an "absolute cell reference": $H$16.

Insert Rows & Columns: see Edit menu

Help Menu-- pull down menu to "Search for help on...." or click on "?" icon and then unknown icon

Charts: Point & drag to select the cell range that contains data to be used in the chart. Click on the Chart Wizard "magic wand" icon in the Toolbar menu. Draw a box to be the chart's border and proceed through the dialog boxes. If you save the worksheet, the chart will be saved with it (you can open it in its own window so you can edit it, save or print it separately from the worksheet). Various chart type options are available in the Gallery menu once a chart has been created.

Splitting Worksheets: To see rows or columns all at once that are too far apart to fit in one screen, you can split the screen by using the Window menu's Split command or by dragging the thick black bars at the top and left edges of the scroll bars.

Printing Big Worksheets on One Page: Using Print Preview from the File menu, try decreasing the left & right margins, the font size, the column width, or try printing sideways ("landscape" orientation) on the page. If there are columns that are not necessary to print, you can hide them from view(from Format menu's Column Width option) and use the File menu's Print Preview option to print it this way, then close the worksheet without saving that change.

Linking Cells From Other Worksheets: Example: If you wanted cell A5 in your current worksheet to be the sum of the A5 entries from worksheets named FIRST.XLS and SECOND.XLS, you would enter the formula =(FIRST.XLS!A5)+(SECOND.XLS!A5)

Statistical Tools: Data Analysis option from Tools pulldown menu; if not there, select Add-Ins and add the MS Excel 4.0 Stuff

Getting Data Sets off the server (to save typing time): see Updates.

Other Versions: be aware that a few procedures are slightly different between different versions of Excel, and that files saved in a higher-numbered version may not be usable on a lower-numbered version


BONUS: Want some online help besides what Excel gives you? You can find stuff on the Internet such as "getting started" tutorials and tips for spreadsheets & charts, etc.