BASIC EXCEL SKILLS

Now a days, any job requires basic Excel skills. These basic Excel skills are – familiarity with Excel ribbons & UI, ability to enter and format data, calculate totals & summaries thru formulas, highlight data that meets certain conditions, creating simple reports & charts, understanding the importance of keyboard shortcuts & productivity tricks. Based on my experience of training more than 5,000 students in various online & physical training programs, the following 6 areas form the core of basic Excel skills.

GETTING STARTED

Excel is a massive application with 1000s of features and 100s of ribbon (menu) commands. It is very easy to get lost once you open Excel. So one of the basic survival skills is to understand how to navigate Excel and access the features you are looking for.

When you open Excel, this is how it looks.

this-is-how-excel-looks

There are 5 important areas in the screen.

1. Quick Access Toolbar: This is a place where all the important tools can be placed. When you start Excel for the very first time, it has only 3 icons (Save, Undo, Redo). But you can add any feature of Excel to to Quick Access Toolbar so that you can easily access it from anywhere (hence the name).

2. Ribbon: Ribbon is like an expanded menu. It depicts all the features of Excel in easy to understand form. Since Excel has 1000s of features, they are grouped in to several ribbons. The most important ribbons are – Home, Insert, Formulas, Page Layout & Data.

3. Formula Bar: This is where any calculations or formulas you write will appear. You will understand the relevance of it once you start building formulas.

4. Spreadsheet Grid: This is where all your numbers, data, charts & drawings will go. Each Excel file can contain several sheets. But the spreadsheet grid shows few rows & columns of active spreadsheet. To see more rows or columns you can use the scroll bars to the left or at bottom. If you want to access other sheets, just click on the sheet name (or use the shortcut CTRL+Page Up or CTRL+Page Down).

5. Status bar: This tells us what is going on with Excel at any time. You can tell if Excel is busy calculating a formula, creating a pivot report or recording a macro by just looking at the status bar. The status bar also shows quick summaries of selected cells (count, sum, average, minimum or maximum values). You can change this by right clicking on it and choosing which summaries to show.

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