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The Spreadsheet

Parts of a Spreadsheet

A spreadsheet is also known as a workbook. Here is a picture of a spreadsheet with some parts labeled.

We?ll discuss each of these parts later on. Right now hover, click, type, right click, and see if you can figure out what they do?
  • Office Button
  • Quick Access Tool Bar
  • Active Cell
  • Name box
  • Ribbon
  • Formula bar
  • Row Header
  • Column Header

    Excel is like graph paper and is divided into rows and columns. The rows go across and the columns go up and down like a column from a building.

    The columns shown above have letters A to M and the rows are numbered from 1 to 13. These names allow you to refer to a cell. That is where a row and column intersect.

    When Excel refers to a range of columns like A to M you specify the word ?to? or ?through? with ?:? (colon) so it becomes A:M, which from columns A through M. The rows are the same and become 1:13.

    This is your first introduction to the language (syntax) that Excel understands. Throughout this book, I?ll describe the specific syntax that Excel understands.

    Excel and all programs (except Google) aren?t very smart. They don?t understand your intention, so you must be very specific in speaking its language.

    Also, if you don?t use the right syntax, Excel is bad about telling you what you did wrong, usually with a short message like ?#VALUE!? all in caps as if it?s screaming at you.

    The intersection of a row and column is called a cell. Each cell has a unique name which is made by combining the column with the row.

    The Active Cell is A1. If you type this is where your data will go into the Active Cell.

    A spreadsheet is basically a piece of smart graph paper. The biggest benefit to a spreadsheet is that changing one cell can automatically change other cells.

    Menus and Ribbons

    Menus and Submenus

    Many Windows programs offer Menus, but starting with Office 2007 Microsoft starting incorporating Ribbons or Tabs instead of Menus. Below is the Home Ribbon for Excel.

    So the Ribbon is supposed to be a more user friendly menu, by showing some of the menu?s details.

    Excel has seven Ribbons from the main Excel Window and one that is hidden, the Developer Ribbon which is outside the scope of this book.

    Clicking anywhere on the Ribbon that has a down arrow will bring up a Menu or series of choices to make, except to decrease the font size.

    Where is the File Menu?

    For those of you who are familiar with Office 2003 programs and before, the File menu has been replaced by the Office Button.   You click it to see the menu.

    Grayed out items

    One thing I?ve always disliked is grayed out items. Excel will turn an item in the Ribbon or Menu gray if you can?t use it. If nothing is in the Clipboard, you can?t use the paste function so it is grayed out. In the picture below, to the left there is nothing copied to the Clipboard and to the right there is data on the Clipboard.  
    If you have a shape active, the Number, Styles, Cells, Editing groups will have some items that are gray.

    When you?re in Edit Mode, which means you?re editing or changing the contents of a cell, some of the menus might be grayed out.


    To view submenus, just hover over the item and the submenu will popup.  Submenus are indicated with a sideways pointing like below. On the Home Ribbon, click the Paste and hover over the As Picture and the submenu will display.

    Ribbon Groups

    Each Ribbon is split up into Groups. Groups are labeled at the bottom of the Ribbon. Groups like the Ribbon organizes the Excel functions that are similar together. For example the Clipboard group contains functions related to the Clipboard. The Home tab has seven different Groups.
  • Clipboard
  • Font
  • Alignment
  • Number
  • Styles
  • Cells
  • Editing

    Ribbon Groups
    Above is zoomed in view of the Clipboard Group and the Font Group.

    At the bottom of each Group there may be arrows that will bring up a Dialog or Menu. Pressing the Font Group arrow will show the For-mat Cells Dialog.
    Format Cells Dialog

    Special Ribbons

    Some Ribbons are hidden from view until you insert an object that requires the Ribbon and select the item:
  • Chart Tools
  • Table Tools
  • PivotTable Tools
  • Drawing Tools
  • SmartArt Tools

    Using the Mouse Wheel

    If you Hover over the Ribbon and move the Mouse Wheel up or down you can quickly change the Ribbon you?re looking at.


    An Excel spreadsheet can be made up of multiple sheets. When you open a New spreadsheet you typically see three sheet names at the bottom left, Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3
    sheet tabs

    Clicking the tabs above with bring you to a different sheet of data. The rightmost tab new sheet will create a new sheet for you. If you don?t like the sheet names you can change them by right clicking and selecting Rename from the menu. You can also move to the next sheet or previous sheet by pressing Ctrl+Pg Dn or Ctrl+Pg Up.

    If you get a spreadsheet from someone else that you didn?t create, be careful in renaming or deleting sheets as it could make the spreadsheet not operate properly.

    Terms for review

    Cell ? the intersection of a row and a column

    Active cell ? the cell where the square box is located. If you start typing this is where your information will be entered to.
    Cell name ? the way to tell Excel which cell you?re referring to using the column-row (aka A1) syntax.

    Clipboard ? place to temporarily store information that you can share within a spreadsheet or between different programs.

    Dialog ? A window that allows you to change or make settings with the program you are using.

    Font - type of character set to used. Common fonts are Arial and Courier. It is a printing term.

    Ribbon ? area at top of spreadsheet that contains buttons and drop-downs that allows you to perform various actions on your spreadsheet like setting the color or making text bold.

    Syntax - the specific language that Excel or any program understands.

    Blank Workbook

    To start a new blank Workbook, press the Office Button and then select New. Then press the Create button. Make sure the Blank Workbook is selected.

    Saving your work

    One thing Excel and most programs are not nice about saving your beautiful works of art.  You must tell Excel to save it, where to put it and what format it should be in. For now save all your workbooks in .xlsx or .xls format.

    The Office button is in the left hand corner of the window (2007)
    Clicking this button will bring up a list of actions you can take. You should see the following:
    Excel options

    Press Save and you?ll get the Save As Dialog

    One of the most frustrating things about computers is losing your work. This will happen to you. There are many ways that this can happen.

    If you don?t ?Save? your work it is lost forever. Excel has an Auto-save mechanism that you should try to locate right now. Check the Help or ask Mr. Google.

    There are two types of saving, ?Save? and ?Save As.?
  • Save ? Saves the file to the current name and overlays pre-vious copy
  • Save As ? Saves the file to a new name, so you have previous copy.

    There are a number of types of files you can save your work in. For now Save as ?Excel Workbook.?

    Creating a New Spreadsheet

    One thing Excel can do is allow you to work on multiple spreadsheets simultaneously and at the same time.

    To open a new spreadsheet click the Office button and select New.
    You?ll see the Blank Workbook dialog that looks like the following:

    At the left side are ?templates? that you can use to make your job easier.

    If you just want a blank Workbook then press the Create button.

    Excel will name your Workbook something like Book2.  You now have two Workbooks open. To switch back and forth between them you can press Ctrl+F6.

    You can also go to the View  tab and in the Window group select Switch Windows.

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