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Introduction to Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application used to perform financial calculations, statistical analysis, and other mathematical operations. A spreadsheet is an interactive program that displays rows and columns. Using a spreadsheet, you can manipulate and analyze data in ways that would be difficult to do manually.

Excel files are known as "workbooks". A workbook consists of "sheets", each of which contain 256 columns labeled from A to IV (the letters IV, not Roman numeral 4) and 65,536 rows numbered from 1 to 65,536.

The intersection of a row and a column is called a "cell". 256 columns x 65,536 rows gives you 16,777,216 cells per sheet. A workbook can have as many sheets as your computer can store in memory. A cell can hold text, a number, a formula, or it can hold nothing at all.

The Excel program window

Each cell has an address, which is the column row location of the cell. For example the address of the cell in the upper-left corner of a worksheet is A1. The address of the cell in the sixth column and the tenth row is F10. The address of the cell at the farthest lower-right corner of a worksheet is IV65536.

Lets create a simple example spreadsheet

To open Excel, select Start | All programs | Microsoft Office | Microsoft Excel. The Excel program window appears. When you open Excel, by default it creates a blank workbook named "Book1".

A worksheet always has one active cell. The active cell is the one that is currently selected and has a thick border. The contents of the active cell is displayed in the "Formula Bar" located just above the column headings. When you first open Excel, the active cell is A1.

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