 Excel is a spreadsheet in electronic format that can be used to organize your data and perform simple to complex mathematical operations quickly. Spreadsheets consist of rows and columns and you can enter data in cells, which are the intersections of rows and columns, and save this information in your personal computer to retrieve it as and when required. Data could be text, numbers or even formulas. As complex calculations are done by the computer, you don’t have to worry in making changes to the data as the calculations are performed as required.

This tutorial is based on Microsoft Excel 2007. Though the basics of using any version of Excel are similar, you might or might not find some of the menu options in later or older versions of Excel. We will start with the most basic concepts of Excel including data types. Go to Start Microsoft Excel 2007. You will get a window as given below (without the colors). In a spreadsheet, the vertical space is referred to as the column and the horizontal space is referred as a row. The intersection of a row and a column is known as a cell. Letters like A,B, C, D etc are used to refer columns and numbers like 1, 2, 3 etc are used to refer cells and combination of column letter and row number is used to refer cells. In the above opened window, blue color is given to the column F and orange color is given to the row 5 and green color is given to the cell F5. Active cell which is the currently selected cell would have black border on all sides. In the above window, J10 is the active cell. When you work on Excel, you are working on a particular workbook of many different worksheets. Different worksheets are Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3. You can change the names if you want and select different sheets if you wish to organize data.

Suppose, you wish to enter any data in a cell in your Excel file, then you can click the particular cell and enter the data in that cell and save the file. The data you enter can be of three types: labels, constants and formulas. Labels are just text values that are used mainly for our understanding. Constants are numbers and they can be of any type including percentage, amounts etc. Formulas are mathematical equations used to do some calculations. You have to be careful when you enter formula. All formulas should start with equal sign (=). Consider the following example. In this example, labels are: Monthly Payment Calculation, Gold loan, Rate of Interest, Number of Payments and Monthly Payment. Constants are \$15,000.00, 10.30% and 60. Now, the value displayed in the column C7 “\$320.92” is not entered using the keyboard. Instead, it is automatically calculated with the help of a formula. The area that is just above the columns is known as formula bar denoted (right to the symbol fx). There you could see the formula “PMT(C4/12,C5,-C3)”. Here, the advantage is that you do not have to worry though you have to change the interest rate or number of payments or the gold loan amount. The formula will do the calculation based on the new values. We will learn more about formulas in coming chapters.

Now, you would have noticed different menu options available on the top of Excel file. The main menu options are Home, Insert, Page Layout, Formulas, Data, Review and View. Based on the active menu, that is the menu clicked, you will get different tabs which are known as ribbons that contain different options below the main menu bar. We will look into different menu options in detail in coming chapters. 