Excel is a spreadsheet program. It consists of worksheets, workbooks,
and formulas. The basic tool is the formula. It’s a special
type of cell entry that returns a result. When you enter a formula
into a cell, the cell displays the result of the formula. Upon activation
of the cell, the formula itself appears in the formula bar. The formula
bar is just below the toolbars at the top of the Excel window. A
formula begins with an equal sign (=) and can consist of any of the following
elements: operators such as + (for addition) and * (for multiplication),
cell references, including addresses like B4 or C12 as well as named cells
and ranges, values and text, and worksheet functions, such as SUM.
You can enter a formula into a cell in three ways: manually, by pointing
to cell references, or use the assistance of the formula palette.
The following tips apply to most versions of the Excel software programs.
Excel 2002 comes with a new Text-to-Speech feature that you can use
as an aid in proofreading your spreadsheet data. This tool is useful for
the sight impaired user. It’s also helpful if you're entering a lot
of data manually, for example, from a printed sheet. While entering the
data into the range, you can look at the printed sheet while Excel audibly
confirms each entry. If the data has already been entered into the
spreadsheet, you can also check the printed sheet while Excel speaks out
each entry. To use the Text-to-Speech feature, you need to display
the Text to Speech Toolbar. To display the Toolbar and use its option,
choose the Tools, Speech, Show Text To Speech Toolbar menu command.
You can also choose the View, Toolbars, Text To Speech menu command.
Excel then displays the Text To Speech Toolbar. If you want Excel
to speak a range, select the range and click the By Rows or By Columns
button to make Excel speak the cells across rows or down columns.
Click the Speak Cells button for Excel to start speaking the cells.
Click the Stop Speaking button for Excel to stop speaking the cells.
If you want Excel to speak the cell every time that you enter data into
a cell, click the Speak On Enter button. Click the button again to
cancel the feature. Remember your computer must have the appropriate
equipment for the text-to-speech feature to work. At minimum, you must
have a sound card with speakers or a pair of headphones. The “Speak
On Enter” tool persists across Excel sessions. If you enable this
feature during one session and shut down Excel, it's still enabled the
next time that you start the program.
Excel's AutoFilter feature makes it a breeze to hide everything in
a database except the records you want to see. All you have to do to filter
a database is position the cell pointer somewhere in the database before
choosing Data, Filter, AutoFilter on the menu bar. To filter the
database to just those records that contain a particular value, you click
the appropriate field's drop-down list button to open a list box containing
all the entries made in that field, and select one to use as a filter.
Excel then displays only those records that contain the value you selected
in that field.
Working with AutoShapes in Excel is different than in PowerPoint or
Word. One big difference is that you can't simply select a group
of objects with the mouse and then move, size, or delete them. In
Excel, you need to click the Selection Objects tool in the Drawing Toolbar.
Once you select the tool, Excel turns off the standard worksheet pointer
and allows you to choose objects. When you're finished with the Select
Objects tools, press Esc to return to the normal worksheet functions.
The AutoSum tool on the Standard Toolbar not only enters the SUM function
but also selects the most likely range of cells in the current column or
row that you want totaled. It then automatically enters them as the
function's argument. In most cases Excel selects the correct cell
range to be totaled by highlighting it. If no selection, you can
manually correct the range by simply dragging the cell pointer through
the block of cells that need to be summed. Position the cell pointer
in the cell where the sum is to appear, and click the AutoSum tool.
Excel inserts the SUM function onto the Formula bar. It also places
a marquee, the moving dotted line, around the cells it thinks you want
to add and uses that cell range as the argument of the SUM function.
Background Colors and Patterns
To change the background color or pattern used in cells, select the
cell or range that you want to format. Choose Format, Cells from
the menu bar or press Ctrl+L. Click the Patterns tab in the Format
Cells dialog box that appears. Click a color on the Color grid.
To add a pattern, click the Pattern drop-down list box
and select one from the list. You can choose a second color for the
pattern. Click OK to apply the color and/or pattern. A faster
way to change the background color, but not a pattern, is to select the
cells and then choose a color from the Fill Color tool on the Formatting
Toolbar. In some cases you may want to use a graphics file as a background
for a worksheet that is similar to the wallpaper displayed on your Windows
desktop. However, the graphics background is only for the screen
display. It doesn't show up on the page when you print the worksheet.
To add a background to a worksheet, activate the worksheet and choose the
Format, Sheet, Background command. Excel displays a dialog box that
lets you choose a graphics file. Locate the desired graphics file.
You may have to change to a different folder. Finally click Insert
and Excel tiles your worksheet with the selected graphic.
To emphasize sections of your worksheet or parts of a particular table,
you can add borderlines or shading to certain cells. But don't confuse
the borderlines that you add to accent a particular cell in the worksheet
because borders added are printed whether or not you opt to print the worksheet
gridlines. To add borders to a cell selection, choose Format, Cells.
Click the Border tab from the Format Cells dialog box that opens.
Select the type of line you want to use in the Style area of the dialog
box, such as thick, thin, bold, or hash marks. Next choose the edge(s)
to be applied to this line from the Border section of the dialog box.
When selecting where you want the borderlines drawn, keep these points
in mind: 1. To have Excel draw borders around only the outside edges
of the entire selection, click the Outline button in the Presets section
of the Border tab. 2. If you want borderlines to appear around all
four edges of each cell in the selection, like a paned window, select the
Inside button in the Presets section instead. To get rid of borders,
you must select the cell(s) that presently contain them, open the Format
Cells dialog box, and click the None button in the Presets section.
You can also do the same thing by clicking the first button in the Borders
You may have heard about calculation bugs that affect Excel 97.
Microsoft has acknowledged the existence of these bugs. They involve
a failure to recalculate some formulas under certain conditions. However,
the bugs do not affect most Excel computations. If you use Excel
97, make sure that you install SR-2, the most recent service release, and
check Microsoft's Web
site for the latest information on calculation bugs.
Excel’s cell comment feature enables you to attach a comment to a cell.
It’s useful for documenting a particular value or helping to remember the
functions of a particular formula. When you move the mouse pointer
over a cell that has a comment, it pops up in a small box. To add
a comment to a cell, select the cell and choose the Insert, Comment command
or press Shift+F2. Excel displays a text box that points to the cell.
Enter the text for the comment into the text box and click any cell when
you're finished. The cell displays a small red triangle to indicate
that the cell contains a comment.
To delete a cell in an Excel worksheet, you press Delete or Backspace.
However, this doesn't delete the cell, it only clears the contents.
If you really want to delete cells, select the doomed cells and then press
Ctrl + - (minus sign). Now the selected cells will disappear and
the adjacent cells will shift to fill the empty space.
If you've forgotten the range name needed in a formula or don't want
to type it, press the F3 function key to display all range names.
Now you can double-click your desired name.
Centering Printed Output
Normally Excel prints a page at the top and left margins. If
you want the output to be centered vertically or horizontally on the page,
choose the File, Page Setup command. Click the Margins tab of the
Page Setup dialog box that appears on your screen. Now select the
appropriate check boxes, horizontally or vertically, in the “Center on
Page” area. Lastly click OK to close the Page Setup dialog box.
Chart Titles and Legends
To move a chart title, click the title and drag one of the edges of
the rectangular block that surrounds the title. Even though there
are handles on this boundary, they serve no purpose. You cannot resize
a chart title area with these handles. If necessary, change the font
size or alter the text and the size of the box. To move a legend,
click and drag it. To resize, click it and drag one of the eight
handles in any direction.
The type of chart you choose depends on your data. Each chart
type presents data in a specific way. For example, area, column,
and line charts show changes to values over time while pie charts show
percentages. After creating a chart, you can select a different type
of chart that will better suit your data. To change a chart on a
worksheet, click a blank area in the chart you want to change. Handles
will appear around the chart. To change a chart on a chart sheet,
click both the tab for the chart sheet and Chart, Chart Type to see the
Chart Type dialog box. Next click the chart type you want to use
from the list of options in the Chart Type box. Click the chart design
you want to use from the Chart Sub-Type box. The available chart designs
depend on the chart type you selected in the previous step. Click
OK to confirm your changes and the chart displays the selected chart type.
Excel is a powerful tool. Using its worksheets, workbooks, and
formulas’ you can calculate and display complex information in an easy
format which can be used to make difficult decisions a much easier task.