Excel online training course

excel lesson 2, The basics 101

Making a new workbook

To make a new workbook we click on "File" and "New" in the menubar.

Or just click on the "New" button excell_small_05.jpg (1.127 bytes) in the standard toolbar.

When you are using Excel 2003 or XP and you select "File" and "New" (Blank Workbook) the taskpane will open where you choose a new workbook.

excell_12.JPG (19.642 bytes)

When you are using Excel 2000 or 97 and you click on "File" and "New" in the menubar a window will open where you choose the workbook from the "General" tab.
Once you have done this click on "Ok".

Saving a workbook

After inserting data into our new workbook we must save it so we wont lose the information.
To do this we click on the "Save" button excell_small_07.jpg (1.437 bytes).

Select the folder where you want to save the file, give you file a name and click on "Ok".
Dont forget where you saved the file and what you named the file.
This will save you a lot time later on when you need to find the file again.

Closing files

To close a file we click on "File" and "Close" in the menubar, or we click on the "X" in the topright corner of our workbook.
Quick note: dont click on the "X" in the topright corner of the application because this will close Excel and not the workbook.
Excel will warn you if you want to save the file, click on "Yes" if you want to, or click on "No" when its not neccesairy.

Opening files

When you want to open a file, the first thing you need to know is where this file is located on your computer.
Is it somewhere on your harddrive, a dvd or a cd ?.
Once you know where the file is located you click on the "Open" button excell_small_06.jpg (1.323 bytes).
A new window will appear where you need to search the file, select it, and click on "Open".
If you want to open mulitple files, you need to hold down the "Shift" key on your keyboard, select all files and click on "Open".
In Excel XP, 2000 and 2003 you can see shortcuts to much used folders on the leftside of the opened window.

Selecting cells

When we open a new workbook the selected cell will allways be A1.
You can use the mousecursor to click in any cell to make this "Active".
Or we can use the arrows on our keyboard to scroll through the cells.

There are many ways to select a cell which i made a list of:

arrow key "UP" Moves the active cell up
arrow key "DOWN" Moves the active cell down
arrow key "LEFT" Moves the active cell left
arrow key "RIGHT" Moves the active cell right
Page Up key Moves the active cell Up one page
Page Down key Moves the active cell Down one page
"Alt Key" and "Page Up" key Moves the active cell one page to the left
"Alt Key" and "Page Down" key Moves the active cell one page to the right
"Ctrl" and "Home" key Moves the active cell to the top left cell
"Ctrl" and "End" key Moves the active cell to the bottom right cell
"Tab" key Moves the active cell to the right
"Shift" and "Tab" key Moves the active cell to the left
"Enter" key Moves the active cell down
"Shift" and "Enter" key Moves the active cell up

Insert text into cells

In Excel a combination of numbers and text in a cell is treated as text.
All text will automaticly be aligned to the left.
When we enter text into a cell, Excel will be in "Enter status" (Like i mentioned in the previous lesson in the statusbar)
Excel will go into the "Ready status" when we pressed the "Enter" key on our keyboard.
And only in the "Ready status" are we able to format cells and text.
So first push the "Enter" key, and then choose the cell again to apply formatting to it.

Long lines of text will be fully shown spread over the other cells, as long as there is no information in the cell to its right.

Text cannot be seen when the cell to the right is filled, but the information in the cell will remain.
We can show the text entirely by adjusting the column width.
We can adjust this by clicking and dragging the stripe between two columns.

I will explain more about this in the next lesson.

Insert numbers into cells

In Excel numbers may only contain numbers and no letters, otherwise this will not be seen as a number but as text.
And as far as i know we still cant make any calculations with text.
So we will only numbers with possibly foreseen with a comma.
When a number is longer than the width of a column this will be displayed as either:
1. scientific notation 5.4324E+14
2. #####
In both cases we cant really know what is in the cell so its best to adjust the width of the column.


Since Excel 95 there is a great function called "Autocomplete" which help us automaticly fill in recurring information.
For example: when we type the word "computer" in cell A1 and push "Enter".
When we start typing in cell A2 with the letter "c", Excell will automaticly show the word "computer".
If we dont want to use the word we just continue typing.

We can also disable this autocomplete function.
Click on "Tools" and choose "Options", in the "Edit" tab we click on the checkbox next to "Enable Autocomplete for cell values" so that the box will become empty.

Make your own list

If you need to used the same list of words regularly then you can also make your own lists in Excel.
First type in your list in Excel.
Then click on "Tools" and "Options" in the menubar.
We go to the "Custom list" tab.
And click on the "Range" button.
Select all cells in the workbook and push "Enter".
Click on "Import" on the bottom.

When your done click on "Ok".

You can also use these lists in all workbooks and worksheets of Excel for automatic adding the entire list.
To do this type the first item and next click and drag the rows downwards or to the right.

As you can see there are also default lists present in Excel.
I will explain more about this in lesson 3.

Zoom in and out on the worksheet

We can enlarge or reduce the view of our worksheet.
We use the "Zoom" button excell_small_26.jpg (1.955 bytes) for this.
We can choose a percentage from the list or we can manually type a percentage.
First select the field which you want to enlarge or reduce and then click on the black arrow to open the dropdown menu of the zoom box.

Editing multiple workbooks

Sometimes we want to copy information from one workbook to another.
We open both workbooks in Excel and then select the information we want to copy in our "Source" workbook.
To navigate between our different workbooks we click on "Window" in the menubar.
In the dropdown menu you can see all our opened workbooks.
The one which has a check infront of it is the one you are currently working on.
We click on the "Copy" button excell_small_14.jpg (1.455 bytes).
Then we open the workbook where we want to copy the information to and select the cell where it needs to go.
Finally we click on the "Paste" button excell_small_15.jpg (1.693 bytes).

Give workbooks another name

Once you have save the file you can still change its name at a later time.
You can also save files which are altered or where nothing has been changed to a different name or location.
Just choose "File" and "Save as.." in the menubar.