How to Use Excel - Excel Tutorials for Beginners

A Beginner's Guide to Excel

Screen Elements - Parts of the Excel Screen
Screen Elements - Parts of the Excel Screen. © Ted French

Microsoft Excel has been the most popular spreadsheet for years. However, it can be a little intimidating when you first launch the software. How to Use Excel is a series of tutorials designed with the absolute beginner in mind. The instructions include step-by-step examples on how to use Excel to create a basic spreadsheet.

Excel Screen Elements

This tutorial identifies the main elements of an Excel worksheet, focusing on:

  • Cell and active cell
  • Add sheet icon
  • Column letters
  • Row numbers
  • Status bar
  • Formula bar
  • Name box
  • Ribbon and ribbon tabs
  • File tab

Basic Excel Spreadsheet Tutorial

The tutorial covers the basics of creating and formatting a basic spreadsheet in the latest versions of Excel. Topics covered include:

  • Entering data
  • Creating simple formulas
  • Defining a named range
  • Copying formulas with the fill handle
  • Applying number and cell formatting to the worksheet
  • Adding cell formatting

Excel Math

Learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers in this Excel tutorial. The tutorial also covers changing the order of operations in formulas, exponents and Excel's math functions.

Each topic includes a step-by-step example on how to create a formula that will carry out one or more of the four basic math operations in Excel.

Adding Up Numbers With the SUM Function

Step by step instructions on using Excel's SUM function. Since adding rows and columns of numbers is one of the most common operations in Excel, Microsoft has included this formula shortcut to make the job easier.

The tutorial covers:

  • SUM function syntax and arguments
  • Entering the SUM function
  • AutoSUM 
  • SUM function dialog box

Move or Copy Data

In this tutorial, learn how to use shortcut keys to cut, copy and paste data in Excel. Move data to a new location or duplicate it in several ways. The tutorial covers:

  • Ways to copy data
  • The clipboard and pasting data
  • Using shortcut keys to copy and paste
  • Using the context menu to copy data
  • Using menu options on the Home tab to copy data
  • Moving data with shortcut keys
  • Moving data with context menu and using the Home tab

Add / Remove Columns and Rows

Need to adjust the layout of your data? Rather than move the data, add or remove columns and rows to expand or shrink the work area as needed. Learn the best ways to add or remove singular or multiple columns and rows using a keyboard shortcut or the context menu.

Hide / Unhide Columns and Rows

You can hide columns and rows containing data in a spreadsheet. Doing so can make it easier to focus on other, important areas of the worksheet and it is easy to bring them back when you need to see the hidden data again.

Entering the Date

Learn how to use a keyboard shortcut to quickly enter the current date and time to an Excel spreadsheet. If you would prefer to have the date update to the current date every time the worksheet is opened, use the TODAY function instead.

Entering Data in Excel

Don't miss these seven tips on best practices for entering data into a worksheet including:

  • Planning the worksheet
  • Laying out the data
  • Entering headings and data units
  • Protecting worksheet formulas
  • Using cell references in formulas
  • Sort your data

Column Chart

Also known as bar graphs, column charts are used to show comparisons between items of data. Each column in the chart represents a different data value from the worksheet. Learn how to use them effectively in this tutorial.

Line Graph

Line graphs or line charts are used to show trends over time. Each line in the graph shows the changes in the value for one data value from the worksheet.

Pie Chart

Pie charts are used to show percentages. A single data series is plotted and each slice of the pie represents a single data value from the worksheet.