1. Getting to Know the User Interface

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Take a tour of Excel's user interface so that you can understand how to access commands in the ribbon, change the view setting in the footer and much more.

Lesson Notes

User interface: Ribbon

- To remove the ribbon, double-click on a tab
- To restore the ribbon, double-click on a tab again
- File is a special tab that allows us to open, save, print and create workbooks

User interface: Formula bar

- The formula bar displays the formula for the selected cell, not the output

User interface: Worksheet

- New workbooks have 3 worksheets but you can add as many as you want
- Each worksheet contains 16,384 columns and 1,048,576 rows
- Rows in Excel are marked by numbers
- Columns are labelled as letters, following a convention: A -> Z -> AA -> ZZ -> AAA

Keyboard shortcuts

F2: Jump into formula of selected cell


In this, our first lesson on Excel, we're going to take an in-depth look at the program's user interface which can be a little intimidating given the sheer number of commands and options at your disposal.

After opening Excel for the first time, you'll be greeted with a blank document such as this.

Across the top of the page, we have the ribbon which is common to Excel, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word.

The ribbon contains almost all of the commands you can perform in Excel, everything from data formatting to inserting mathematical functions and using data analysis tools.

To minimize the ribbon at any stage, you can just double-click on any tab.

To bring back the ribbon, double-click on the tab again.

On the far left-hand side is a special tab called File and this replaces the Windows button in Excel 2007.

If we want to print, open, save, or create new workbooks, this is the tab to use.

Let's now return to our spreadsheet by pressing this arrow.

Underneath the ribbon is the Formula Bar which displays the formula of the selected cell.

For example, if we add 5+7 and then press Return, we can see that the cell contains the answer which is 12, but the Formula Bar contains the formula “=5+7”.

The formula bar becomes especially useful when we have more complicated formulas in our financial models or when conducting data analysis.

The cell in which we entered this formula is part of a spreadsheet which Excel calls a “worksheet”.

Each worksheet contains 16,384 columns and these are identified by letters across the top of the page.

The lettering format moves from Z to AA, to ZZ, to triple A, until it reaches the final column XFD.

Each worksheet also contains 1,048,576 rows identified by numbers down the left-hand side of the page.

As a result, it's very unlikely that you'll run out of space for most of your projects.

Below the worksheet is the footer which contains a number of commands for changing our view.

The first of these is the slider by simply dragging the marker to the left or to the right.

Next to the slider are a number of different view options that I normally use before I print my Excel document and I want to check what the output will look like.

When using Excel, we'll typically have the view set to Normal and we'll have the ribbon tab set to Home.

Although I've used the mouse to show you around the Excel interface in this lesson, keyboard shortcuts are a much better way of navigating Excel.

To learn how to use keyboard shortcuts effectively, check out my next lesson on the topic.