|Creating a Worksheet|
|Entering Formulas and Functions|
|Formatting Your Worksheet|
|Embedding a Chart|
A spreadsheet is the computer equivalent of a paper ledger sheet. It consists of a grid made of columns and rows. It is an environment that can make number manipulations easy and straightforward. Microsoft (MS) Excel is a spreadsheet application that is part of Microsoft Office. It enables the calculation and display of complex mathematical formulas (functions) with a facility for extensive formatting. Functions are predefined calculations that may be included in any given Excel cell to perform specific manipulation of data. Using MS Excel, data could be imported from a variety of sources. Analyzing data is a very important skill of any professional, especially those who work in the fields of agriculture and natural resources where data in its raw collected state have very little use without some sort of processing. As a student and a professional, MS Excel can assist you in the analysis of data. This tutorial focuses on introducing the basic features of MS Excel 2003 to analyze general data. It will cover the basic steps of creating a spreadsheet, using formulas and basic formatting, and creating charts.
Before you start using this MS Excel tutorial, it is very beneficial for you to become familiar with the basic features of MS Excel workbooks and worksheets. In MS Excel, a workbook is the file in which you work and store your data. Because each workbook can contain many sheets, you can organize various kinds of related information in a single file. Worksheets are used to list and analyze data. You can enter and edit data on several worksheets simultaneously and perform calculations based on data from multiple worksheets. When you create a chart, you can place the chart on the worksheet with its related data or on a separate chart sheet. The names of the worksheets appear on tabs at the bottom of the workbook window. To move from one sheet to another, click the sheet tabs.
As you can see, we have already used the terms "spreadsheet" and "worksheet". Although people generally use the two terms interchangeably, the term worksheet refers to the row-and-column matrix sheet on which you work upon while the term spreadsheet refers to this type of computer application.
As mentioned earlier, the workbook can contain worksheets and chart sheets. The following illustration shows a new worksheet in an Excel workbook:
As you can see in the illustration, worksheets are made up of columns and rows. In a worksheet the "cell" is defined as the space where a specified row and column intersect. Each cell is assigned a name according to its "column" letter and "row" number. In each cell there may be the following types of data: text (labels), number data (constants), and formulas (mathematical equations that do all the work).
Spreadsheets have many mathematical functions built into them. The most basic operations are the standard multiplication (*), division (/), addition (+), and subtraction(-). There is an order of operations when you are evaluating a formula. Formulas are evaluated from left to right. Expressions enclosed in parentheses are evaluated first followed by exponents, multiplication and division (same level), and addition and subtraction (same level). MS Excel has many more operators and mathematical operations may also be performed using "functions" (e.g., the "SUM" function). A brief description of the latter and relevant common functions for summarizing data can be found here. Advanced MS Excel functions on correlation and regression analysis are also available.
Selecting cells is a very important concept of a spreadsheet. We need to know how to reference the data in other parts of the spreadsheet. When entering your selection you may use the keyboard or the mouse. We can select several cells together by specifying a starting and a stopping cell. This will select "all" the cells within this specified block of cells.
Depending on the task you want to perform in MS Excel, you can use either relative cell references (which are references to cells relative to the position of the formula) or absolute references (which are cell references that always refer to cells in a specific location). If a dollar sign precedes the letter and/or number, such as $A$1, the column and/or row reference is absolute. Relative references automatically adjust when you copy the cells while absolute references do not.
Some of the basic functions of MS Excel will be demonstrated in this tutorial where a worksheet that includes student information and grades are first created and then manipulated. Ultimately, the new worksheet is formatted followed by producing a graphical display of student data.
This section describes how to create a worksheet and modify it to suit your needs. You will then use formulas and formatting as well as embed a chart. To insert a new worksheet, follow the following steps:
All formulas in MS Excel must begin with an equal sign (=). When a formula is entered into a cell, the formula itself is displayed in the "Formula Bar" when that cell is highlighted, and the result of the formula is displayed in the actual cell. The following steps demonstrate how to enter formulas and functions in a cell:
Several formatting features are available within MS Excel to effectively display your data. Text and individual characters can be formatted to make them stand out (you can format all of the text in a cell or only selected characters). You may also rotate text (in a column for example) as well as add borders, colors, and patterns to distinguish among different types of information in a worksheet. Also, you can use number formats to change the appearance of numbers, including dates and times, without changing the number behind the appearance. Finally, you can format cells and lists quickly using auto-formats, styles, and the "Format Painter" button.
To demonstrate how to go about auto-formatting a worksheet, please follow the following steps:
In MS Excel, you can create either an embedded chart or a chart sheet. The steps involved are the same except for the last step when you could choose one or the other. In order to create a chart, you need to first select the cells that contain the data you want to appear in the chart. If you want the column and row labels to appear in the chart, include the cells that contain them in the selection. Then, you may click the "Chart Wizard" tool and follow the instructions of the wizard.
To demonstrate how to go about embedding a chart in your worksheet, please follow the following steps:
At any time while you are using MS Excel, you can get help by clicking the "Microsoft Excel Help" on the "Help" menu. To access online help, click "Microsoft Office Online" on the "Help" menu.
Before you end your MS Excel session, you should save your workbook if you intend to continue working on it in the future or want to save a copy for future reference. To do so, click on the "File" option from the top menu bar and select the "Save" option from the pull-down menu. The next time you want to work on this workbook (or any other workbook), choose the "File" option from the top menu bar and select the "Open..." option from the pull-down menu. To end your MS Excel session, choose the "Exit" option from the same pull-down menu.
I hope that you
find this introductory tutorial to MS Excel informative and useful. As you
may have noticed, there are numerous features and tools that were not
demonstrated in this tutorial. You can see the functions of these tools by
just trying them, or can click on the "Help" option on the top menu bar and get
help. The help screens provide a good overview of MS Excel.