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EXCEL TUTORIAL (Beginners' Guide)

The essence of this tutorial is to take the reader (you) through the basics of Microsoft EXCEL as a form of spreadsheet package used to input and calculate numerical data.


Learning Goals:



An Excel worksheet can be opened by double-clicking the icon if available on the Windows Desktop. Otherwise, click the start Menu and select program(me). In most cases, this can be found by pointing the mouse to MS Office sub-menu and then select Excel.


The diagram below illustrate a typical Excel application window when an Excel icon is clicked:

Table 1

                        Active Cell                                   Column              Scrollbar




Row                                                                      Formula Bar    


An excel application window consists of Rows and Columns and these are identified by a unique cell number. For example, the bold print rectangular active cell box from the diagram above consists of a unique cell number- A1. Other important part of an Excel application window include:

Formula Bar- this displays all formula entered on an active window.

Scrollbar- this is used to move an Excel worksheet from top to bottom of the page.


Data Entry- Information entered on an Excel worksheet is referred to as data. As explained earlier, these can be entered in the cell by pointing the mouse on the particular cell in which the data is supposed to be entered. This will now be the active cell, which is indicated by a bold print as shown in the rectangular shaped cell.


Types of Data Entered on an Excel Worksheet

  1. Text- this can be a letter or any character other than a number. In most cases, text data can be used to name the worksheet (indicated in the head of the sheet) or to identify variable(s) used.
  2. Number- this can take any value and in some cases, can be combined with currency or a point to specify a decimal number. Numbers written on an Excel worksheet always bear a unique cell number identified by the particular row and column in which it is placed. For example, suppose you want to list the items bought on a Saturday at Tesco Supermarket, this can be entered in an excel worksheet as shown below.




Total amount spent from the above table can be calculated by adding up all the ‘Amount Spent’ in column B downwards. In short the total can be calculated by using the formula “=B3+B4+B5” or SUM(B3:B5) in the formula bar in Table 2. This means summing up all values from column B3 up to B5.


Notations used in Excel Formula

Type                                               Notation/Symbol

Addition                                                      +

Subtraction                                                  -

Multiplication                                               *

Division                                                      /

Greater than or equal to                               >=

Less than or equal to                                   <=



Dialogue Box to display Formula

Table 3



  Steps to show formula:

  1. Highlight the particular row or column in which you want formula to be shown.
  2. Click the Tools menu and select the option sub menu.
  3. Tick off the formula option box as indicated by bold rectangular box in the Dialogue Box above.
  4. This will automatically be shown in the worksheet as indicated in Table 3.



A chart can be defined as a graphic representation of data from a worksheet. Values inputted in the Excel worksheet can be illustrated by charts of all sort for example, Graphs and Pie Charts. A simple way of doing this is by selecting or highlighting the data to be represented in the graph and then click the Chart Wizard icon as shown in the standard Toolbar box. Alternatively, this can be done by clicking the Insert menu and then select chart. 


Table 4                                                                     Graph Produced from Table 4



There are four steps involved in creating a graph from an Excel worksheet table. The first step is to select the type of chart needed (i.e., whether Graph or Pie Chart) after clicking on to the Chart Wizard Icon. The remaining steps involve naming the chart and the different axis present. For example, Amount Spent from table 4 above is represented on the Y-axis (Vertical) and Items on the X-axis (Horizontal).


Adding Rows and Columns to an existing Excel Worksheet

This can be done by highlighting the particular row or column where the insertion should take place and then click on to the Insert menu and then select row or column which ever is needed.


Editing Cell Content

Cell content in an Excel document or worksheet can be edited by highlighting the particular area in the document to be edited. For example, a number can be changed by simply deleting the content of the cell and replace it with the new number. The advantage of using Excel spreadsheet is that, any changes made to an existing document can automatically be adjusted. For example, increasing the amount spent in Bread will automatically adjust the Total.


Also, a whole Excel worksheet can be copied on to another worksheet by highlighting the entire document and right click the mouse and select ‘Copy’. This can then be pasted on a different worksheet by right-clicking the mouse and then select paste. This will finally placed the worksheet copied from the previous sheet on to the new sheet.


Saving and Opening an existing Excel Document

An Excel document or worksheet can be saved by clicking on to the File Menu and select Save As for a new document.


Save As Dialogue Box                                     Open Dialogue Box

To provide a name to an Excel document, specify the location in which the document should be saved by clicking the save in box as shown above. If you want the file to be saved in a floppy disk, then select the 3.5 floppy option. The document can also be saved in the C drive by clicking the C: option. The second stage is to provide a name to the file by clicking in the File Name box. The document can be saved in an older version of Excel by clicking in the ‘save in type’ by as shown above. Clicking this will produce a drop down list of Excel versions, that is, Excel 5,6. After completing all of the above steps, then click the save box which will finally the save the document in the name selected.


Similarly, an existing Excel document can be opened by clicking the File Menu and then select Open. If the file is saved in a floppy disk, then select the drive by clicking on the ‘look in’ box as can be seen in the Open Dialogue box. This will then display lists of files already saved in the floppy disk or the C drive. After completing all of these, then click the ‘Open’ box to open the particular document selected.