How to use excel for beginners: Quick Excel guide

How to use excel for beginners

How do you use Excel? We want to show you a quick Excel guide in this article on how to use Excel for beginners.

We especially appeal to anyone who has never used Excel before and wants to know the first steps on how to use Excel.

If you already know Excel, then this article is not for you.
The goal is to offer you an Excel guide for beginners to introduce you to the spreadsheet and show you what you can do.

Welcome to Excel

For beginners, Excel might be a little scary. It’s normal!

What is Excel for?

Microsoft Excel is a helpful and powerful application for data analysis and documentation. It is a spreadsheet program, which includes a number of columns and rows, where each intersection of a column and a row is a “cell.” Moreover, each cell contains one point of data or one piece of information.

So, you can make information more comfortable to find by organizing the information in this way, and you can automatically draw information from changing data.

Using formulas and functions, you can make sense of your data by turning it into useful information. For example, you can automatically view sums, averages, and totals.

Excel-workbooks VS worksheets

Workbooks: Excel documents are called workbooks, and many (not all) versions of Excel will automatically have three tabs, each with its own blank worksheet when you first create an Excel document (a workbook).

If that’s not what your version of Excel does, don’t worry, we’ll learn how to build them. 

Worksheets: The worksheets are the actual components where the data is entered. Think of the worksheets as those tabs if it is easy to think of it visually.

By right-clicking and choosing the delete option, you can add tabs or remove tabs. Those worksheets are the real spreadsheets we are dealing with and finally, we are stored in the workbook file.

What will you learn in this article?

It’s a short path for beginners where you’ll learn how to use Excel, such as- what a spreadsheet is, how to enter data and save, print, share your Workbook.

To get started with Excel, that is all you need to remember.

What about the rest? Look for a solution in this blog: you will find many interesting articles that will allow you to learn many features.

Excel is a powerful application, even if sometimes it might be a little bothering. Nothing serious, we assure you!

That’s why we thought of this quick guide for those who want to start using Excel.

The secret to knowing Excel is:

  1. Have a lot of willpower and desire to learn,
  2. Do a lot of practice and,
  3. Have a good teacher!

How to open Excel

On my computer, I have installed the version of Excel 2019 for Windows. If you have a different version, no problem! The steps are identical.

When you first open Excel, the application will ask you what you want to do. It will show you a similar window.

Excel first interface
Excel first opening interface

To open a new workbook, click Blank Workbook.

If you want to open an existing workbook instead, click Open. Then select the file in the list or click Browse.

Excel existing workbook
Open an existing workbook in Excel

At this point, through the dialog box, find the Workbook you are looking for, select it, and click Open or double click on the selected Workbook.

Excel Browse file dialog box
Finder workbook dialog box

You just heard of Workbook.

In Excel, the Workbook is a file. It usually has an extension of type . XLSX, but it could be . XLS if you are using a version older than Excel 2007.

I anticipate that you will also hear about Worksheets.

A worksheet is a single sheet within a workbook. A workbook can contain many sheets. So each Excel sheet is identified by a label and name that you will find at the bottom of the screen.

How to use excel for beginners: the ribbon

Excel all tabs
Excel control panel tabs

The ribbon is the control panel of Excel. Inside you will find many Cards, Groups, and Commands. You can do pretty much anything you want right from the ribbon.

Find the ribbon at the top of the window.

Excel multi tabs bar
Multifunction bar in Excel

There are several tabs, including Home, Insert, Page Layout, Formulas, etc.

Each tab contains groups of commands. For example, you will find the Clipboard, Font, Alignment, Numbers, Styles, Cells, Editing group, all with different buttons on the Home tab.

Try clicking on the tabs to see what groups and buttons are contained within them.

Finally, you will find a search bar that says, “What do you want to do?”. Please enter in it what you are searching for, and Excel will help you find it. This is especially useful when looking for something specific – you can’t go through all the buttons to find out what they do.

Excel find and search bar
Find and Search bar in Excel

How to use excel for beginners: Worksheets

As mentioned above, a workbook can contain multiple sheets. By default, Excel contains only one worksheet, but you can insert more.

Excel default worksheet
Excel worksheet

Click on a label to open that particular worksheet.

Multiple worksheets in Excel
Excel multiple worksheets

To add a new worksheet, click the button at the end of the sheet list. The button with the “+” symbol.

Also, you can reorder the sheets in your Workbook by simply dragging them to a new location.

And if you right-click on a sheet label, you’ll get a context menu with a number of options. Among these, Rename and Delete are the most useful. For now, you can leave out the rest.

Context menu in Excel
Excel context menu

How to insert data into Excel

It’s time to enter some data!

Data entry is one of the most essential and simple things you can do in Excel.

So just click in an empty cell and start typing.

Type the following numbers into the cells.

Data insert in Excel worksheet
Insert data in Excel worksheet

Excel cells can contain- text, numbers, and formulas.

Try typing some text or date in any cell and see what happens.

There are many other ways to enter data within a worksheet. For the moment, we will limit ourselves to this. However, we will use the numbers just entered to try to do the math.

Apply cell borders

  • Select the cell or range of cells to which you want a border to be added.
  •  On the Home tab, click the arrow next to Borders in the Font group, and then click the border style you like.
Apply borders in Excel cells
Excel cell borders

Apply Fill and Font Color

  • Select the cell or range of cells to which you want cell coloring to be applied. 
  • Click the arrow next to the Fill Color Button symbol on the Home tab in the Font group, and then, under Theme Colors or Standard Colors, select the color you want.
Excel fill color
Fill color in Excel
  • To change the font color, click the Font Color button symbol on the Home tab in the Font group, then select the color you want under Theme Colors or Standard Colors.
Font color in Excel
Excel Font color

How to include the data in a table

Putting the data into a table is an easy way to access the power of Excel.

  • To select the data, click the first cell and dragging it to the last cell in your data. To use the keyboard to select your data, click the first cell, hold down the Shift key, and press the last cell’s arrow keys.
  • After selecting your data, a Quick Analysis button Quick analysis buttonappears in the bottom-right corner and clicks on it.
Quick analysis button appears
Quick analysis button appears after selected data
  • Move your cursor to the Table button in the Quick Analysis Table gallery, and then click the Table button.
Table dialog box
Table dialog box displayed in Excel

How to use excel for beginners: Sort

To quickly sort your Data

  • Choose a date range, such as A1:E9 (Multiple columns and rows) or B Cell (single column). Titles you have created to define columns or rows can be included in the range. 
  • Select a single cell in the column that you want to sort.
  • In Excel, click the A to Z A to Zcommand to sort A to Z or the smallest number to the largest (A to Z or the smallest number to the largest) to perform an ascending sort. 
  • In Excel, click the Z to A Z to Acommand to sort Z to A or the largest number to the smallest number (Z to A or the largest number to the smallest) to perform a descending sort.

To sort by the specific situation

  • Firstly, select a single cell from anywhere in the range to be sorted. 
  • Choose Sort on the Data tab, in the Sort & Filter group. 
Excel data sort by the specific situation
Sort by the specific situation in Excel data
  • The Sort dialog box becomes visible.
  • In the Sort By list, select the first column you want to sort from. 
  • Select any Values, Cell Color, Font Color, or Cell Icon from the Sort On the list. 
  • In the Order list, pick the alphabetically or numerically ascending or descending (— for example, A to Z or Z to A for text or lower to higher or higher to lower for numbers) order that you want to add to the sort operation.

How to filter your Excel data

  • Select the data to be filtered. 
Excel filter data selected
Selected filter data in Excel
  • In the Data tab, click Filter in the Sort & Filter group. 
  • On the Data tab, group Sort, and Filter. 
  • Click the Arrow Filter drop-down arrow in the column header to show a list of filtering choices that you can make.
Filter your Excel data
Excel data filter
  • To select by value, clear the check box (Select All) in the list. This removes from all checkboxes the checkmarks. Then pick only the values you want to see, and then click OK to see the results.

How to use excel for beginners: do the basic calculations

Now that we have seen how to insert some data into a worksheet, let’s see how to do some simple processing.

Performing basic calculations in Excel is simple.

The important thing that you must ALWAYS keep in mind when working with formulas is that: all formulas always start with an equal sign.

Whenever you perform a calculation, the first thing you need to type is the equal sign “=”.

This is the way to alert Excel to prepare to perform a calculation.

Now let’s try to do a sum in Excel. Type the following formula in cell A3.


Then, hit the Enter key.

Excel evaluates your formula and displays the result: 17.

Basic sum formula in Excel
Basic sum formula

Now, look at the formula bar. You will see the original formula.

This is useful in case you forget what you originally typed.

You can modify the contents of a cell in the formula bar as well.

Click in any cell, then go to the formula bar and start typing.

Perform subtraction, the multiplication and division are just as easy.

Mathematics symbol for Excel
Excel mathematics symbol

Enter the following formulas in cells B3, C3, and D3, respectively.

The result will be the following.

Now let’s change perspective and try something different. What I’m going to show you is one of the fundamentals of Excel.

Type the same data into another worksheet. Now click in cell A3 and type the following:


Finally, hit the Enter key.

You should get 17: the sum of the numbers in cells A1 and A2.

At this point, change one of the numbers to A1 or A2.

What happens when you change the values ​​in one of the cells? You will notice that Excel automatically updates the total.

Try applying the different arithmetic operations in the other cells. The result will be identical, but the perspective is distorted.

Excel addition, subtraction, multiplication, division formula
Excel multiple formulas

Subsequently, it will be sufficient to change the cells’ contents to which the formula refers to obtain different results.

What you did manually earlier can be done automatically.

Use AutoSum to add your Data

When you’ve entered numbers in your sheet, you may want to add them up. A quick way to do that is by using AutoSum.

  • Select the cell below or to the right of the numbers that you want to add. 
  • Click the Home tab, and then in the Editing group, click AutoSum
  • On the Home tab, AutoSum.
Autosome Function in Excel
Excel AutoSum Function
  • AutoSum adds up the numbers and finally displays the result in the selected cell.

The heart of Excel: the functions

The engine of Excel functions. Thanks to the functions, you can perform complex calculations.

Basically, you will find the standard Excel functions in the Edit group of the Home tab.

Function In Excel
Excel function

Now let’s see how to use one of the many Excel functions.

Let’s go back to the sheet containing the data entered previously.

Let’s go to cell E1 and then click on the Excel Sum function.

Excel sum function
Sum Function in Excel

Then, hit the Enter key.

Result of sum function in Excel
Excel sum function

The resulting number, 72, is the sum of the numbers in cells A1, B1, C1, and D1.

As you can see, in the SUM function, I entered the word “A1: D1”.

This writing tells Excel to refer to all cells A1 to D1.

There are many useful functions in Excel. Some you can use alone, others instead as nested functions. Nested functions are functions within functions.

If you want to see all the functions that are available, then go to the Formulas tab, and you will find all the function libraries.

Function libraries in Excel
Excel function libraries

Then, click on one of the icons to find the function that will allow you to solve a specific problem.

Scroll through the list of functions that are available and pick the one you want.

When you start typing a formula (don’t forget to enter the equal sign ), Excel will help by showing you some of the possible functions you might be looking for.

Start typing function in Excel
Start typing functions in Excel

Finally, after typing a formula name and the opening parenthesis, Excel will tell you which arguments you need to enter.

Excel function arguments
Function arguments in Excel

It might not be easy to understand Excel’s advice if you’ve never used a function before. It will become clearer, however, with a little practice and experience.

How to use excel for beginners: Save your work

In order not to lose the work you’ve done within your Workbook, you’ll need to save your changes.

Save Excel workbook
Excel workbook save

Use the F12 function key to save. If you haven’t saved your file yet, Excel will ask you where you want to save it and what name you want to assign.

On the other hand, you can click the button Save this in the Quick Access toolbar.

Excel quick analysis save

I suggest you save often.

Get into the habit of naming and choosing a location to save your file before you start working.

Otherwise, losing your job could be painful!

How to use excel for beginners: Print worksheet

  • Click the File tab, and then the Print button, or keyboard shortcut press Ctrl+P
  • By clicking the Next Page and Previous Page arrows, preview the pages. 
  • In the Print Preview window, the Next and Previous buttons. 
  • Basically, depending on the settings of your printer, the preview window shows the pages in black and white or in color.
  • You can change page margins or add page breaks when you don’t like how your pages are written. 
Excel worksheet print
Print Excel worksheet
  • Finally, click Print.

How to use excel for beginners: Share workbook

The easiest way to share your Excel files is to use OneDrive.

Simply click the Share button in the top right corner of the window.

Excel will guide you through sharing the document.

How to use Excel for beginners: Share workbook
Excel workbook share

Also, you can save your document and send it by email.

On the other hand, you can use any other cloud service (Such as- IDrve, SugarSync, Dropbox, etc) to share it with whoever you want.

Activate and use an add-ins

  • Choose Options on the File tab, and then choose the Add-Ins category. 
  • Near the bottom of the Excel Options dialog box, in the Manage box, make sure that Excel Add-ins are selected, then click Go
  • In the Add-Ins dialog box, select the add-ins you want to use in the checkboxes, and then click OK.
Activate and use an add-ins in Excel
Activate and use an add-ins

If Excel shows a message stating that this add-in cannot be run and prompts you to install it, finally click Yes to install add-ins.

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