How to Make Excel Spreadsheets

By Tricia Goss

Whether you want to create a chart that presents sales data, create a recipe table that you can sort and filter, or track schedules and manage your family's calendar, Microsoft Excel provides an assortment of tools and features you can use to create effective spreadsheets. Learning how to set up a basic worksheet will give you the foundation you'll need to make any type of spreadsheet you require for home, school or work.

Step 1

Start Microsoft Excel. A new, blank spreadsheet opens by default. Click on cell "A1," which is the uppermost cell on the left side of the spreadsheet. Type a heading for your first column into this cell. Press the "Tab" key to move to cell B1. Enter headings for all of the columns you need.

Step 2

Format the heading row. Select the cells in the first row using your mouse. Click the "Borders" drop-down arrow in the Font group of the Home tab and then select the border that you want to apply to these cells, such as "All Borders." Choose a different font size and color if you wish. Click the "Fill Color" button if you would like to shade these cells, which can help them stand out on the spreadsheet.

Step 3

Enter the data you want to work with in the rows below your heading row. Format these cells as desired, adding borders or modifying the font as needed. Change the format of a column by clicking on the letter at the top of the column to select it. Right-click and choose "Format Cells." Select an option on the Number tab in the Category list, such as "Number," "Currency" or "Text." Click "OK" to apply the changes.

Step 4

Sort or filter the spreadsheet data. Click anywhere inside your table and click the "Sort & Filter" button in the Editing group of the Home tab. Choose a sort option or select "Filter" to add sort arrows to each heading. Use them to sort, filter or search for data in the columns.

Step 5

Perform basic math functions on your data. Click on the cell in which you want the result to appear. Click the "AutoSum" drop-down arrow in the Editing group of the Home tab. Choose the function you want to use, such as "Sum" or "Average." Press "Enter" to use the cells suggested by Excel, or you can select the cells you want to sum or average using your mouse. Select noncontiguous cells by pressing and holding the "Ctrl" key while clicking on the cells you wish to include.

Tips & Warnings

  • To use advanced mathematical functions, click on the cell in which you want the result to appear. Click the "Insert Function" button to the left of the formula bar. Enter a short description of your desired task and click "Go." Choose a function from the list of results, which provides descriptions of each and click "OK." Enter the data you want to use in the Function Arguments box or click "Help on This Function" for more details.