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Microsoft Excel 2003 Primer

Module by: Marcus Brown. E-mail the author

Summary: Teaches key terms and concepts of the Microsoft Excel 2003 application.

Introduction to Computers: Excel Primer

What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a program developed by the Microsoft Company that fits in the category of software called application software. Although Excel can be purchased as a separate, stand-alone program; it is generally bundled as part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications.

The Microsoft Office suite includes such popular programs as Word, PowerPoint and, depending upon the version of Office that you have Outlook, Publisher and Access.

Microsoft Excel is an application or program designed to create spreadsheets. In other words, Excel is most efficient when you need a program to manipulate and analyze data.

Microsoft Excel can also be used as a simple, but effective database. We will discuss databases in greater detail later.

Stated plainly, Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application.

What is a spreadsheet?

After launching the Microsoft Excel program, a blank book or specifically sheet is displayed. This sheet has horizontal rows and vertical columns that resemble the ledger paper that accountants used to use. The place where a row, identified by numbers, and a column, identified by letters, intersects is called a cell.

Why use a spreadsheet?

The advantage that spreadsheets have over other applications such as Word, PowerPoint or Publisher is that Excel displays data in an orderly, table format. This format makes it easy to sort the data alphabetically and numerically or to calculate values such as the sum, average, minimum or maximum of a range of numbers.

Getting familiar with the Microsoft Excel 2003 window

Let’s get familiar with the Excel 2003 environment, its appearance and how it functions.

Title bar: tells you, 1) what you’re looking at and; 2) what program is being used to display it.

Minimize: collapses the open window down to the Task bar.

Restore Down: reduces the area of the window from full screen to 1/3 the original size.

Close: shuts the window and ends that instance of the application.

Menu bar: contains a list of tasks associated with each word i.e. there’s the File menu, Edit menu, View menu, etc.

Figure 1
Figure 1 (graphics1.png)

Standard toolbar: contains icons that enable the user to create a New workbook, Open an existing workbook, Save a workbook, etc.

Figure 2
Figure 2 (graphics2.png)

Formatting toolbar: contains menus and buttons that allow the user to change the appearance of fonts, text alignment, font color, etc.

Figure 3
Figure 3 (graphics3.png)

Status bar: displays the Page number, Section number, number pages, lines, columns, etc. in the document.

Figure 4
Figure 4 (graphics4.png)

Entering data in the Excel 2003 sheet

Column: is a vertical area separated by left and right lines on either boundary and identified by letters i.e. “Column A”.

Row: is a horizontal area separated by top and bottom lines on either boundary and identified by numbers i.e. “Row 1”.

Cell: is an area that represents the intersection of a Row and Column and is identified by the column letter and row number i.e. “Cell M12”.

Select the cell that you want to enter data into by clicking it once and typing the alpha or numeric value in the cell area. Complete the entry by pressing the Enter key, clicking the Enter button (the green check mark) or pressing an arrow key.

Creating formulas using Microsoft Excel

Before creating a formula that adds, subtracts, multiplies or divides numbers, we must first understand the mathematical operators that Excel uses and the structure of a formula.

In school we were taught that a number, 7 for example, plus another number, let’s say 8, equals another number. In this example: 7 + 8 = 15.

In Excel, all formulas begin with the ‘=’ symbol.

Addition:

When creating a formula to calculate the sum of 7 + 8 in Excel the order or syntax is the opposite of what we learned in school.

In school we learned: 7 + 8 = 15

In Excel we learn: = 7 + 8

Subtraction:

When creating a formula to calculate the difference of 7 – 2, once again in Excel the order or syntax is the opposite of what we learned in school.

In school we learned: 7 - 2 = 5

In Excel we learn: = 7 – 2

Figure 5
Figure 5 (graphics5.png)

Press ENTER to see the result:

Figure 6
Figure 6 (graphics6.png)

A word about building formulas

One of the best features about spreadsheet programs, like Excel, is that you can instruct the program to calculate the sum, difference, or product of absolute values (numbers) such as 7 and 8 or cell references; such as A1 and A2.

In Excel we build our formula in the cell in which we want the answer to appear. If you have entered values in A1 and A2 and you want to multiply those values and have the answer appear in A3, you would select cell A3 then type ‘=A1*A2’ and press the ENTER key.

Multiplication:

When creating a formula to calculate the product of 7 x 5, once again in Excel the order or syntax is the opposite of what we learned in school.

In school we learned: 7 x 5 = 35

In Excel we learn: = 7 * 5

Mathematical operators used in Excel:

Not only does Microsoft Excel use a different structure for mathematical calculations or formulas, it uses different operators. See the table shown below for a list of operators for common formulas.

Table 1
Math Symbol Description Excel Symbol
+ Addition +
- Subtraction -
x Multiplication *
÷ Division /
% Percent %
32 Exponentiation ^
= Equals =

Let’s build our first formula

Select cell A2 by clicking it one time with your mouse. Notice that the Name Box displays A2 as confirmation of your selection. Type the number 12 in cell A2.

Next, select B2 by clicking it once with your mouse. Again, the Name Box confirms that B2 has been selected. Type the number 9 in cell B2.

Finally, click cell C2 one time to select it. Type the formula ‘=A2+B2’ and press the ENTER key. Note: Do not type the ‘. This will cause an error in your formula.

The sum of A2 (which is 12) and B2 (which is 9) is displayed in cell C2.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your first formula.

Saving spreadsheets

Remember, there are at least 3 ways to perform any action in a Microsoft application, so let’s explore a few of them.

Save using the Standard toolbar:

  1. Click the Save button on the Standard toolbar. (The Save icon is the diskette and is usually the third icon from the right on this toolbar.)
  2. Choose a location to save your file to in the Save As dialog box. (My Documents is the default save location. You may browse to save the file to a different location such as the Desktop, a diskette, a jump drive or separate folder on your hard drive.)
  3. Click the Save button.

Save using the File menu:

  1. Click File on the Menu bar.
  2. Click Save on the File menu.
  3. Choose a location to save your file to in the Save As dialog box. (My Documents is the default save location. You may browse to save the file to a different location such as the desktop, a jump drive or separate folder on your hard drive.)
  4. Click the Save button.

Save using the Keyboard Shortcut:

  1. Press the F12 key.
  2. Choose a location to save your file to in the Save As dialog box.
  3. Click the Save button.

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