Spreadsheets: Getting Started, Part I  

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I. Overview of the Excel Work Space
    Titles, Windows, and Worksheets
    Menus
    Formula Bar
     Toolbars
     Status Bar
    Worksheet Referencing Scheme
    For More Information

 

Titles, Windows, and Worksheets

The title bar at the very top of your Excel screen reminds you that you're in Excel. If your workbook is expanded to take up the maximum amount of screen space, its title bar is merged with Excel's title bar to look like this: Microsoft Excel - Book1. If your workbook is taking up less than the maximum amount of screen space it's displayed in its own moveable window with its own separate title: Book1.

Book1 is the default name for an Excel workbook until you assign it another name. Book1 is composed of multiple worksheets. Take a look at the bottom of the Book1 window to see the tabs labeled Sheet1, Sheet2, Sheet3, etc. Use the mouse to click any one of these tabs to move that worksheet to the top of the display.

Right-click any tab to get a "pop-up menu" of options specific to the tab. For example, one of the options is "Rename". Click the Rename option to put the selected tab's name in reverse video. Type a different name and hit the enter key to change the tab's name.

Change the order of worksheets by dragging and dropping a tab from one location to another. Delete a tab by clicking the tab to select it, right clicking, and selecting "Delete" from the pop-up menu that displays.

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Menus

Excel's menu appears across the top of the workspace. The menu is a part of Excel's workspace and is separate from the workbook in which you create worksheets, charts, and other objects.

The menus are arranged to lead you to the option you need. Select any top-level menu entry by clicking it with the mouse or holding down the ALT key and tapping the underlined letter for your choice. Excel displays a further set of options using a drop-down menu list. Selections with a diamond to the right of them lead to other drop-down lists. Menu selections with elipses after them lead to a dialog box that collects information Excel needs to carry out your command.

There are times when the menu contents may change. For example, if you're working with a chart the menus reflect choices relevant to the InfoWindow or the charting environment.

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Formula Bar

The formula bar appears under the menus and any toolbars you might have open at the top of the screen. It reflects the contents of whatever cell is the current cell in the worksheet. The left of the formula bar shows the cell reference or the cell name if the cell has been assigned a name. To the right of the bar is a display of the cell's contents. If your cell contains a formula, the worksheet displays the value of the evaluated formula while the formula bar displays the contents (the formula itself).

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Toolbars

 ScreenCam movie Introduction to Excel Toolbars. Playing time: 1 min 25 sec.
Player-required version (file size ~1,925K).
Stand-alone version (file size ~2,708K).
Information about running ScreenCam movies.

Excel has a thirteen preconfigured toolbars. The icons on a toolbar are generally shortcuts to commands you might otherwise issue using the menus or with keystrokes. Toolbars appear as strips or boxes of icons located around the edge of your worksheet or floating on the surface.

When you start Excel you see the Standard toolbar, with icons for frequently-used tasks such as file management, printing, copying and pasting, formatting, functions, charting, etc. To open up more toolbars, use the commands View, Toolbars and then select the toolbars you want displayed from the dialog box that appears. Turn off toolbars the same way.

Move the mouse pointer to the top edge of an icon on a toolbar to have Excel display a "tooltip", or a short description of what that icon does.

"Grab" a toolbar by holding the left-hand mouse button on a space on the toolbar but not directly on a tool button. Drag to any location in the workspace where you want the toolbar to be.

Reshape any toolbar by dragging with the mouse on an end or side. For example, you may prefer to have all the tools in a toolbar in a box.

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Status Bar

 ScreenCam movie Introduction to Excel's Status Bar. Playing time: 1 min 13 sec.
Player-required version (file size ~1,756K).
Stand-alone version (file size ~2,538K).
Information about running ScreenCam movies.

At the very bottom of the Excel workspace is the status bar. Keep an eye on the status bar for information about the status of your session or a particular operation. For example, if you have the num lock key on and the caps lock key on, Excel displays the words NUM and CAPS in the status bar.

The status bar is also useful for getting on-the-fly calculations about spreadsheet values. In the example below, highlighting the range of numbers in column A displays their sum (the default) in the status bar.

Right-click the "Sum" report in the status bar to change the status bar calculation to one of the other options: Average, Count, Count Nums, Max, or Min.

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Worksheet Referencing Scheme

The worksheet part of the screen is arranged as a grid of rows and columns. An individual cell in the grid is named by the intersection of the numbered rows and lettered columns. For example, starting at the upper left-hand corner (the worksheet "home" position) a cell two columns over and four columns down is named cell B4.

If you prefer, you can turn on an alternative "R1C1" style of referencing where both rows and columns are numbered. To do this, select Tools, Options, General and select the "R1C1 reference style" under "Settings".

If you make this selection, both rows and columns have numbers as names.   For example, with this scheme, the name for cell A5 becomes R5C1, as in the illustration above.

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For More Information

- Click Help on the top-level menu and select Contents. Select the item Working with Workbooks and Worksheets.

 

- Turn on the Office Assistant by selecting Help from the main menu and then Microsoft Excel Help. Click the assistant. When prompted, enter the term or topic you want help with.

 

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