An Excel Overview

Excel can look a bit daunting when you first encounter it but the basics are very straightforward.

Excel basic image

Across the top is a quick access menu. The image at the end is a drop down menu where you can add or remove the items you use the most.

Underneath that is the ribbon bar. This is where all the menu items are to be found. It is split into two parts: the top part has text such as ‘File’ and ‘Home’; Underneath are the icons which activate the functions. Except that in the example above, ‘File’ is green which means that menu is active. If you clicked on ‘File’ a drop down menu shows things you can do with that relate to filing your document.

By default, you do not need to  click on ‘Home’. The icons in the main ribbon at present relate to ‘Home’. If you clicked on ‘Insert’, you get these icons:

Excel Insert Ribbon

Each text item offers a new menu. Have a play. Notice that when your mouse is anywhere within the ribbon, that scrolling with the mouse wheel changes the menu items, so you can scroll from ‘File’ to ‘Review’ just by rolling your mouse’s wheel.

The next level down of the menu is the Name Bar and the Formula Bar. The Name Bar has ‘A1’ in the example above. That lets you know that the part of the work area that you are is in Column A and Row 1. To the right is the Formula Bar. The text in there is ‘=1+3’. This means that in the bit of the Excel work area that is active (i.e. where you are), Excel has named ‘A1’ and it knows that what is in that area is a formula; notice that in A1, there is the number 4. That is of course, the resolution of the formula =1+3.

A quick note to end today, you can just type numbers or letters such as 4 or Jim into the active area but if you want Excel to recognise that you’re typing a formula, you must start with = or +.