Finding your way around Excel...

Posted by EasyPC Training on October 24, 2011

Opening Excel

There are several ways to open an Excel workbook, depending on whether you want to open a new workbook or an existing workbook.

Opening Excel from the Start Menu

     1. Click on Start > All Programs > Microsoft (Office) Excel 
     2. Click on Microsoft Excel shortcut on Desktop

Opening an existing Excel workbook

Double click on the workbook from My Documents / My Computer window.

The Excel screen

Depending on your computer's settings, you may see the Excel Task Pane appear on the right side of the Excel screen.

If the default settings have not been changed, then you would also see that the new workbook contains 3 blank worksheets and 2 toolbars at the top of the screen; the Standard toolbar and the Formatting toolbar.


Worksheets contain Toolbars and Menus, as in all Microsoft Office products, that contain commands to tell the program what you want it to do.

Standard Microsoft Office Menus:

  • File
  • Edit
  • View
  • Tools
  • Help

 Additional Excel menus

  • Insert
  • Format
  • Table
  • Window

 Accessing commands from the menu

     1. Click on a menu name
     2. Click on required command (you may need to click on to view all commands)


Toolbars are just another way of accessing commands. Each button (icon) on a toolbar represents a different command. When these buttons are clicked the command is run.

Shortcut Keys

Shortcut keys allow you to run commands using the keyboard rather than the menus or toolbars with the mouse. Using these shortcut keys can make working in Excel much quicker The only problem is remembering the shortcut keys!

Useful Shortcut keys

Navigating in Excel
Ctrl + End - Go to end of work area
Ctrl + Home - Return to cell A1
Page Up - Go to previous screen up
Page Down - Go to next screen down
Alt + Page Up - Go to previous screen left
Alt + Page Down - Go to next screen right
Ctrl + Arrow down - Go to bottom of range / spreadsheet
Ctrl + Arrow up - Go to top of range / spreadsheet
Ctrl + Arrow right - Go to far right of range / spreadsheet
Ctrl + Arrow left - Go to far left of range / spreadsheet
Ctrl + Page Up - Go to previous spreadsheet
Ctrl + Page Down - Go to next spreadsheet

Selecting data
Ctrl + Click - Selects multiple individual cells
Click + Shift + Click - Selects range of cells
Click + Shift + Arrow - Selects range of cells
Ctrl + Shift + End - Selects remaining work area
Ctrl + * - Selects current range
Ctrl + A - Selects spreadsheet

Working in the formula bar
Alt + Enter - New line within cell

Other useful shortcuts
Ctrl + O - Open a workbook
Ctrl + S - Save workbook
Ctrl + P - Print workbook
Ctrl + X - Cut selection
Ctrl + C - Copy selection
Ctrl + V - Paste selection
Ctrl + Z - Undo last action(s)
F1 - Help

Saving your workbook

When working on a computer it is important to regularly save your work in case files or data are lost through a technical fault. It is also important to save your files in an appropriate place, again in case of a fault with the computer, but also for ease of retrieval.

A workbook can be saved at any point (not just when it is finished). Therefore it is always good practice to save the file as soon as it is created.

To save a workbook:

     1. Go to File > Save (As)
     2. Select which folder to save the spreadsheet
     3. Type a name for the workbook
     4. Click on Save

What is the difference between 'Save' and 'Save As'?

Save - updates the current file i.e. saves over the top of the original workbook. This will only open a dialog box the first time that the workbook is saved.

Save As - allows you to change the file name or location of the file to make a copy of the original workbook. A dialog box is opened each time the Save As command is selected.

When working on any sort of document, click on the Save button every few minutes to ensure that the latest version of the document is stored on the computer should there be a technical fault.

Closing your workbook

Windows allows users to have more than one application open at any one time. It also allows users to have more than one document within an application to be open at any one time, therefore there are several ways of closing a workbook.

There are 3 basic options when closing a file in a Microsoft application:

  • Close the application i.e. Excel
  • Close the current workbook (leaving Excel open)
  • Close ALL open workbooks (leaving Excel open)

 At the bottom of the File menu is the Exit command. Selecting this will close Excel and all open workbooks. Towards the top of the File menu is the Close command. This, when selected, will close the current workbook.

If you want to close all open workbooks, but keep Excel open, you do not have to close each one individually. You can hold down the Shift key and then open the File menu. You will notice how Close becomes Close All.


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