Microsoft Excel Tutorial for Beginners

By Katelyn Kelley

Part of the Microsoft Office suite of desktop software, Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that allows you to work with data in a row-column (or "table") format. With Excel, you can enter data, create charts and sort and filter remote data with database functions, and automate tasks using macros and Visual Basic for Application (VBA) commands.


Excel data is entered on worksheets inside a file known as a workbook. A workbook can have many worksheets associated with it. They are labeled by tabs at the bottom of the screen.

Entering and Formatting Spreadsheet Data

Click in a box or "cell" on the spreadsheet screen and type your data, and press the "Enter" key to move down to a new cell. To format, click on a cell containing data, then select the "Format" menu and choose "Cells..." or (for Excel 2007) utilize one of the format panes under the "Home" tab.

Creating Calculations

After entering your data, click into an empty cell, then select the "Insert" menu and choose "Function..." or use the "Formula" tab in Excel 2007.

Saving and Printing Data

From the "File" menu choose "Save" to save your data, and "Print..." to print your data, or in Excel 2007 use the Office button (a multi-colored circle in the upper left) to choose "Save" or "Print."

Inserting a Chart

Select the cells of data you wish to chart. (The data must be grouped together in adjacent cells). From the "Insert" menu, choose "Chart..." In some versions of Excel, this will start a Chart Wizard, which will prompt you to customize your chart type, labels and appearance.

Working with Databases

From the "Data" menu, choose "Get External Data," and you can enter a query to a remote database or import data from a server on your network. In Excel 2007, you will find the database commands under the "Data" tab.