How to Teach Yourself Excel

By K.K. Lowell

Microsoft's Excel is a robust spreadsheet program. While becoming an expert in its use may take months of study and cost thousands of dollars, you can gain a working knowledge of the program by teaching yourself. There are many low-cost books available, as well as several free Internet tutorials, which make self-study a viable way to learn this program. Always have Excel open and learn by doing, as in this example.

Step 1

Open Excel and position your cursor in the upper left-hand block of the blank spreadsheet. This is cell A1. Type "My first spreadsheet" in this cell.

Step 2

Resize the text you typed in cell A1. Do this by clicking on the number 1 at the beginning of that line and then selecting the font size you desire from the font size drop-down.

Step 3

Move your cursor to cell A3. Type "Last" in this cell.

Step 4

Move the cursor to the next cell to the right with the right arrow key. Enter the word, "First" here.

Step 5

Move the cursor to the right again. Type "Score 1", then move to the next cell to the right and type, "Score 2". Repeat moving to the right, and enter, "Score 3". Move the cursor to cell F3 and enter "Total."

Step 6

Place the cursor on the number 3 at the beginning of that line. Click on the button to bold text. Now anything entered on line 3 of the spreadsheet will be bold text.

Step 7

Move the cursor to cell A4 and type in a last name, such as Brown.

Step 8

Move your right one cell. Type "John" in this cell.

Step 9

Repeat entering last and first names for a few more lines.

Step 10

Move your cursor to cell C4 and enter a number (score). Repeat doing this for all the cells under the "Scores" labels on the lines where names have been entered.

Step 11

Place the cursor in cell F4. Enter "=SUM(A4:E4)" (without the quotation marks).Press the "Enter" key. Note that your typing has been replaced with the sum of cells A4 through E4.

Step 12

Right-click on Cell F4 to access a drop-down menu. Click on "copy" in that menu.

Step 13

Hold down the left mouse button and highlight cells F5 and below to the end of the last line containing names and scores. Right click anywhere in the highlighted area and click on Paste from the drop down. This copies the formula in cell F4 to these lines, but changes the values to the proper line and cells.

Step 14

Hold the left mouse button down and highlight the data you have entered in the spreadsheet.

Step 15

Click on "Data" in the top toolbar. A drop-down menu will appear. Select "Sort" from the menu. In the resulting box, click on the arrow at the end of the text box labeled, "Sort by." Select "Column F" and then "Descending." Click "OK." This is how to sort your list of names and scores from the highest score to the lowest.

Step 16

This simple spreadsheet exercise teaches you several simple Excel functions. Learn more about the features and functions of Excel with the help of online tutorials and the many books available.

Tips & Warnings

  • Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Spend as much time as you can studying a tutorial or book and practice writing spreadsheets.