What is Microsoft Excel?

What is Microsoft Excel? -magoosh

Editorial credit: PixieMe / Shutterstock.com

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program included in the Microsoft Office Suite of applications. Spreadsheets present tables of values arranged in rows and columns that can be manipulated mathematically using both basic and complex arithmetic operations and functions. Microsoft Excel performs all basic functions of a spreadsheet. It can present columnar data quickly and easily. Also, it eliminates the need for doing time-consuming calculations.

It can be used to create a worksheet which once created can be edited. Rows and columns in a worksheet can be altered with the results getting automatically recalculated. There are many uses of MS Excel, for example, it helps in building great charts, conditional formatting, identifying trends, bringing data together, etc.

Starting MS Excel

Microsoft Excel can be started by two methods. Depending on your computer setup you can choose any one of them.

Method 1

  1. Start Windows
  2. If the desktop displays the Excel icon, double-click on it
  3. Maximize the Excel window, if it is not on the full screen

Method 2

  1. Start Windows and click on the Start button to access the Start menu.
  2. Point to Programs.
  3. Move onto the Microsoft Excel in the programs menu and click on it to start Excel.
  4. Maximize the Excel window on the screen.

If your computer has the complete Microsoft office package installed in it, the option for MS Excel may lie in the Microsoft Office Program Group. In such a case, move the pointer to this group icon in the programs menu. A submenu will appear showing Microsoft word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, etc. Click on the Microsoft Excel option to start the program and then maximize the window.

Types of Data that can be entered in MS Excel

In MS Excel when data is entered, it directly goes into cells. The cells can contain formulae or constant values, which can be 225 characters long. These values can be text, numbers, dates and logical (true or false) values. Following are the different types of data that can be entered in a spreadsheet using MS Excel:

  1. Text: The text data can contain alphabetic characters, numbers or special characters or a combination of these. Examples of text data are: Sonia, B48, Airbus300, etc.
  2. Numbers: This kind of data can include numbers (0-9), exponent symbols, decimal points or plus or minus sign. For example, 50%, +, – etc.
  3. Dates: This type of data is used to enter any date which contains numbers and a slash sign in the form of mm/dd/yy.
  4. Formulae: Any formulae written in excel is used for calculations. All the formulae must start with an ‘=’ sign; otherwise, it will be considered as a text or a number entry. While writing a formula the address of the cells to be calculated is required to be given along with mathematical signs required for calculations. For example, to add the contents of cells, B1, B2 and B3, the formula would be, = B1+B2+B3.

Features of MS Excel

Following are some interesting features of MS Excel:

  1. One of the most important features of MS Excel is the pivot table. It helps you in creating complex reports, charts and calculations. Therefore, it saves a lot of time and that is why people are in love with this feature of MS Excel.
  2. Another important feature of MS Excel is the lookup formulas. It is very useful as it helps you in locating information in your workbook based on the input criteria. If you know how to write the lookup formulas, then you can build dashboards, makes interactive charts, and creative effective models.
  3. Next is Excel charts. This feature is also very useful and has its own importance. It is sometimes hard to work with Excel charts but then it helps you to communicate insights and information with ease.
  4. Conditional formatting is one of the useful features of MS Excel; it can be used to make the workbook look more interesting with the help of its new features data bars, color scales, and icon sets.
  5. The most important feature of MS Excel is power pivot because it turns out to be very helpful to excel when it struggles in analyzing certain types of data.
  6. One of the unique features of MS Excel is visual basic applications. Visual basic applications are a language that excel speaks so if a person learns this language then it can make excel do a lot of things easily, like automatic emailing and generating monthly reports.

MS Excel saves a lot of time for the people and it makes it easy for the people to analyze data. It is useful in a lot of ways, like helping make a boring workbook all the more interesting, communicating insights and information, building dashboards and making interactive charts, creating effective models, among others. It has the ability to do automatic calculations and therefore, it is often used in accounting and finance.

Excel tables are one of the most important and useful features of MS Excel, as it is used for administrative as well as other purposes. People love using this feature because it saves a lot of time of the people. Excel charts are also very useful. For example, one can make charts of his or her income statement and then they can see it anytime. This will help them in knowing that how much they have spent and how much of the income is left. In this way, their time will also get saved.

Comments are closed.

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!