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Introduction to Microsoft Excel 

What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program used to record and analyze numerical and statistical data. Microsoft Excel provides multiple features to perform various operations like calculations, pivot tables, graph tools, macro programming, etc. It is compatible with multiple OS like Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.


A Excel spreadsheet can be understood as a collection of columns and rows that form a table. Alphabetical letters are usually assigned to columns, and numbers are usually assigned to rows. The point where a column and a row meet is called a cell. The address of a cell is given by the letter representing the column and the number representing a row.

Why Should I Learn Microsoft Excel?

We all deal with numbers in one way or the other. We all have daily expenses which we pay for from the monthly income that we earn. For one to spend wisely, they will need to know their income vs. expenditure. Microsoft Excel comes in handy when we want to record, analyze and store such numeric data. Let’s illustrate this using the following image.


1. Ctrl + N: To create a new workbook.
2. Ctrl + O: To open a saved workbook.
3. Ctrl + S: To save a workbook.
4. Ctrl + A: To select all the contents in a workbook.
5. Ctrl + B: To turn highlighted cells bold.
6. Ctrl + C: To copy cells that are highlighted.
7. Ctrl + D: To fill the selected cell with the content of the cell right above.
8. Ctrl + F: To search for anything in a workbook.
9. Ctrl + G: To jump to a certain area with a single command.
10. Ctrl + H: To find and replace cell contents.
11. Ctrl + I: To italicise cell contents.
12. Ctrl + K: To insert a hyperlink in a cell.
13. Ctrl + L: To open the create table dialog box.
14. Ctrl + P: To print a workbook.
15. Ctrl + R: To fill the selected cell with the content of the cell on the left.
16. Ctrl + U: To underline highlighted cells.
17. Ctrl + V: To paste anything that was copied.
18. Ctrl + W: To close your current workbook.
19. Ctrl + Z: To undo the last action.
20. Ctrl + 1: To format the cell contents.
21. Ctrl + 5: To put a strikethrough in a cell.
22. Ctrl + 8: To show the outline symbols.
23. Ctrl + 9: To hide a row.
24. Ctrl + 0: To hide a column.
25. Ctrl + Shift + :: To enter the current time in a cell.
26. Ctrl + ;: To enter the current date in a cell.
27. Ctrl + `: To change the view from displaying cell values to formulas.
28. Ctrl + ‘: To copy the formula from the cell above.
29. Ctrl + -: To delete columns or rows.
30. Ctrl + Shift + =: To insert columns and rows.
31. Ctrl + Shift + ~: To switch between displaying Excel formulas / their values in cell.
32. Ctrl + Shift + @: To apply time formatting.
33. Ctrl + Shift + !: To apply comma formatting.
34. Ctrl + Shift + $: To apply currency formatting.
35. Ctrl + Shift + #: To apply date formatting.
36. Ctrl + Shift + %: To apply percentage formatting.
37. Ctrl + Shift + &: To place borders around the selected cells.
38. Ctrl + Shift + _: To remove a border.
39. Ctrl + -: To delete a selected row or column.
40. Ctrl + Spacebar: To select an entire column.
41. Ctrl + Shift + Spacebar: To select an entire workbook.
42. Ctrl + Home: To redirect to cell A1.
43. Ctrl + Shift + Tab: To switch to the previous workbook.
44. Ctrl + Shift + F: To open the fonts menu under format cells.
45. Ctrl + Shift + O: To select the cells containing comments.
46. Ctrl + Drag: To drag and copy a cell or to a duplicate worksheet.
47. Ctrl + Shift + Drag: To drag and insert copy.
48. Ctrl + Up arrow: To go to the top most cell in a current column.
49. Ctrl + Down arrow: To jump to the last cell in a current column.
50. Ctrl + Right arrow: To go to the last cell in a selected row.
51. Ctrl + Left arrow: To jump back to the first cell in a selected row.
52. Ctrl + End: To go to the last cell in a workbook.
53. Alt + Page down: To move the screen towards the right.
54. Alt + Page Up: To move the screen towards the left.
55. Ctrl + F2: To open the print preview window.
56. Ctrl + F1: To expand or collapse the ribbon.
57. Alt: To open the access keys.
58. Tab: Move to the next cell.
59. Alt + F + T: To open the options.
60. Alt + Down arrow: To activate filters for cells.
61. F2: To edit a cell.
62. F3: To paste a cell name if the cells have been named.
63. Shift + F2: To add or edit a cell comment.
64. Alt + H + H: To select a fill colour.
65. Alt + H + B: To add a border.
66. Ctrl + 9: To hide the selected rows.
67. Ctrl + 0: To hide the selected columns.
68. Esc: To cancel an entry.
69. Enter: To complete the entry in a cell and move to the next one.
70. Shift + Right arrow: To extend the cell selection to the right.
71. Shift + Left arrow: To extend the cell selection to the left.
72. Shift + Space: To select the entire row.
73. Page up/ down: To move the screen up or down.
74. Alt + H: To go to the Home tab in Ribbon.
75. Alt + N: To go to the Insert tab in Ribbon.
76. Alt + P: To go to the Page Layout tab in Ribbon.
77. Alt + M: To go to the Formulas tab in Ribbon.
78. Alt + A: To go to the Data tab in Ribbon.
79. Alt + R: To go to the Review tab in Ribbon.
80. Alt + W: To go to the View tab in Ribbon.
81. Alt + Y: To open the Help tab in Ribbon.
82. Alt + Q: To quickly jump to search.
83. Alt + Enter: To start a new line in a current cell.
84. Shift + F3: To open the Insert function dialog box.
85. F9: To calculate workbooks.
86. Shift + F9: To calculate an active workbook.
87. Ctrl + Alt + F9: To force calculate all workbooks.
88. Ctrl + F3: To open the name manager.
89. Ctrl + Shift + F3: To create names from values in rows and columns.
90. Ctrl + Alt + +: To zoom in inside a workbook.
91. Ctrl + Alt +: To zoom out inside a workbook.
92. Alt + 1: To turn on Autosave.
93. Alt + 2: To save a workbook.
94. Alt + F + E: To export your workbook.
95. Alt + F + Z: To share your workbook.
96. Alt + F + C: To close and save your workbook.
97. Alt or F11: To turn key tips on or off.
98. Alt + Y + W: To know what's new in Microsoft Excel.
99. F1: To open Microsoft Excel help.
100. Ctrl + F4: To close Microsoft Excel.

Three most important components of Excel is which you need to understand first:

1. Cell

A cell is a smallest but most powerful part of a spreadsheet. You can enter your data into a cell either by typing or by copy-paste. Data can be a text, a number, or a date. You can also customize it by changing its size, font color, background color, borders, etc.

Every cell is identified by its cell address, cell address contains its column number and row number (If a cell is on 11th row and on column AB, then its address will be AB11).

2. Worksheet

A worksheet is made up of individual cells which can contain a value, a formula, or text. It also has an invisible draw layer, which holds charts, images, and diagrams. Each worksheet in a workbook is accessible by clicking the tab at the bottom of the workbook window.

In addition, a workbook can store chart sheets; a chart sheet displays a single chart and is accessible by clicking a tab.


3. Workbook

A workbook is a separate file just like every other application has. Each workbook contains one or more worksheets. You can also say that a workbook is a collection of multiple worksheets or can be a single worksheet.

You can add or delete worksheets, hide them within the workbook without deleting them, and change the order of your worksheets within the workbook.

Microsoft Excel Window Components

Before you start using it, it’s really important to understand that what’s where in its window. So ahead we have all the major component which you need to know before entering the world of Microsoft Excel.

  1. Active Cell A cell which is currently selected. It will be highlighted by a rectangular box and its address will be shown in the address bar. You can activate a cell by clicking on it or by using your arrow buttons. To edit a cell, you double-click on it or use F2 to as well.

  2. Columns: A column is a vertical set of cells. A single worksheet contains 16384 total columns. Every column has its own alphabet for identity, from A to XFD. You can select a column clicking on its header.

  3. Rows: A row is a horizontal set of cells. A single worksheet contains 1048576 total rows. Every row has its own number for identity, starting from 1 to 1048576. You can select a row clicking on the row number marked on the left side of the window.

  4. Fill Handle: It’s a small dot present on the lower right corner of the active cell. It helps you to fill numeric values, text series, insert ranges, insert serial numbers, etc.

  5. Address Bar: It shows the address of the active cell. If you have selected more than one cell, then it will show the address of the first cell in the range.

  6. Formula Bar: The formula bar is an input bar, below the ribbon. It shows the content of the active cell and you can also use it to enter a formula in a cell.

  7. Title Bar: The title bar will show the name of your workbook, followed by the application name (“Microsoft Excel”).

  8. File Menu: The file menu is a simple menu like all other applications. It contains options like (Save, Save As, Open, New, Print, Excel Options, Share, etc).

  9. Quick Access Toolbar: A toolbar to quickly access the options which you frequently use. You can add your favorite options by adding new options to quick access toolbar.

  10. Ribbon Tab: Starting from the Microsoft Excel 2007, all the options menus are replaced with the ribbons. Ribbon tabs are the bunch of specific option group which further contains the option.

  11. Worksheet Tab: This tab shows all the worksheets which are present in the workbook. By default you will see, three worksheets in your new workbook with the name of Sheet1, Sheet2, Sheet3 respectively.

  12. Status Bar: It is a thin bar at the bottom of the Excel window. It will give you an instant help once you start working in Excel.

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