A worksheet is organized into a grid of cells, which are formed by the intersection of rows and columns.
Rows are identified by numbers. Row numbers can range from 1 to 1,048,576.
Column labels are identified by letters and start with A to Z. After Z, the next column heading is AA, AB, AC, and so forth. The last possible column label is XFD, which means there are 16,384 columns in a worksheet.
The total number of possible cells in a single worksheet is more than 17 billion. That is just one worksheet!!
Chances are, that word alone stirs visions of lengthy spreadsheets and budgets with complicated formulas and charts.
It is true—Excel has become the standard in offices for pretty much anything that requires management of large amounts of data.
But, if you think Excel is only good for making you cross-eyed while looking at a bunch of numbers and financial reports, think again. There are tons of uses for Excel in business and at home.
The problem is that when people are asked to find a use for it outside of business or number crunching, most people are stumped.
I teach an Excel class at a community college and I get students who say they hope they don’t forget what they have learned.
Maybe you learned a little bit of Excel at work and you want to get better at it, but you can’t think of a reason to use Excel.
One thing I usually recommend is create a personal budget. But using Excel, doesn’t always have to involve numbers. When you have data, any data, use Excel to store it. One of Excel’s simplest yet most fundamental abilities is organizing data.
You can create:
Tracking birthdays and anniversaries
You don’t have to have a lot of data to use Excel.
Of course, there are plenty of fancy apps and tools out there to help you do a lot of what I just mentioned. But, if you want to become really good with Excel, then you need to use Excel.
A passion of mine is cycling. I ride almost year-round. I have a few different bikes and I have to keep them maintained. What does that have to do with Excel?
I keep a very simply log of my bicycle maintenance. I track the date, which bike, what the maintenance was or the purchase made, cost and who performed the maintenance.
Really the purpose of this spreadsheet is so I can remember what I did with what bike. Because I am tracking this information in Excel there are some basic tasks I can do with this data, such as
Sort and Filter
Using the SUM function to see what my total expenses have been
An active cell is outlined by a heavy border, which allows you to easily see where the cell is that is being worked with and where data will be entered. It can also be referred to as the current cell or selected cell.
Why is this important to know? I have a couple of reasons to share with you.
First, it lets you know what cell you are in. When you start typing text or entering a formula, this is where that data will appear.
Second, if you are in edit mode, some commands on the Ribbon will be grayed out and you can’t use them.
“Ms. Harris, my Ribbon isn’t working,” a student says out loud in class.
By now, when I hear something to that effect, I know what they are referring to. But I go ahead and ask
“can you be more specific?”
“Nothing I click on will work, everything is grayed out,” comes the response.
Let’s take a closer look at what this student is referring to. Take a look a Figure 1 below. The cell E2 is selected, but not in edit mode. You can see the commands are available on the Home tab of the Ribbon.
Now let’s take a look at Figure 2 below. Cell E2 is in edit mode. You can tell from the insertion cursor in the cell. Also notice that the commands on the Home Tab of the Ribbon are grayed out.
You can edit the contents of a cell directly in the cell (you can also edit the contents of a cell by typing in the formula bar.) When Excel is in edit mode some features work differently or are unavailable. For example, you cannot change the alignment of the contents of a cell.
Also, the arrow keys behave differently. Instead of moving the cursor from cell to cell, in Edit mode, the arrow keys move the cursor around in the cell.
To exit edit mode, simply hit the Enter, Tab, or the Esc key on your keyboard. Or click another cell in the worksheet.
In Excel, have you ever manually highlighted a row or rows based on a certain criteria? It’s a lot of work to do it that way, In this video I show you how to highlight rows based on a cell value using Conditional Formatting.