Basics of Excel

Different ways to open an excel file

There are various ways to open an excel file, some of them are listed below -

  1. From Start Menu:
    1. Go to the start menu and search for Ms-Excel icon
    1. Click on the icon to open an excel file
  2. Another method using Start Menu:
    1. If Ms-Excel icon is not visible, click on Search
    1. Type ‘Excel’ and it will then show you the excel icon
    1. Click on the icon to open an excel file
  3. Using Mouse:
    1. Go to any folder or desktop and do a right-click using your mouse
    1. Go to ‘New’
    1. If you see Ms-Excel icon, click on it to open it
  4. From another excel file:
    1. If you already have an excel file open, click on ‘File’ group
    1. Click on ‘New’ to open a new excel file


Different operations which can be done on worksheets

Addition of more worksheets in a file

  • For Ms-Excel 2016 users, click on ‘+’ sign to add a new worksheet
  • For users with older versions of Ms-Excel, go to the sheet name, do a right-click and click on ‘Insert’ and then select ‘Worksheet’.

Deleting a worksheet or a group of worksheets in a file

  • Select the worksheet you want to delete, do a right click and click on delete
  • If you want to delete more than one worksheet,
    • Select the worksheets by clicking on the names of the worksheets while keeping the control key pressed on your keyboard
    • Do a right click and click on delete

Do note that excel will not allow you to delete all the worksheets in an excel file. So if you have 3 worksheets in a file, you can delete only 2 of them.

Renaming a worksheet in a file

  • Select the worksheet you want to rename by clicking on the name of the worksheet
  • Do a right-click and click on ‘Rename’
  • Choose a name which is not longer than 31 characters – it can be alphanumeric i.e. combination of numbers, alphabets and some special characters like _ , - , +
  • Some special characters cannot be used \ , / , * , ? , : , [ , ]
  • No two worksheets can have the same name in an excel file


An excel file consists of millions of cells and each cell can be uniquely identified using the cell location which is based on which column and row the cell is in. In each cell, you can input 3 different types of values –

Text – some examples –

  • Someone’s name,
  • Email address,
  • Address,
  • A statement like ‘It is raining today’

Basically, any value which has alphabets in it (a combination of alphabets and numbers and special characters as well) can be entered

Number/Numeric value – some examples –

  • Age
  • Salary
  • House Number
  • Phone Number – but if you had a bracket or a + sign, excel will read it as a text and not a numeric value
  • Marks in a subject
  • It can take decimals as one – supposedly weight of a person 151.2 lbs

Function/Formula as they are interchangeably called – excel cells contain formulas as well. To call a formula, you need to use equal to sign first by pressing on it on your keyboard and then calling the function by writing its name – the example which we discussed in the video used the ‘Average’ function/formula.

We will discuss different types of formulas in detail in the last module of this course.

To type something in a cell, just go to the cell where you want to type, and just use your keyboard. If you want to edit –

  • Go to the cell and press F2 key on your keyboard or do a double click using your mouse and use the arrow keys and then delete what you want to
  • Go to the cell and you can see the information in the cell in the formula bar on the top. Go to the formula bar, click on it and using arrow keys, delete what you want to


An excel file has more than 16,000 columns and more than 1 million rows which is quite a lot! So in each column, we have 1 million cells and multiplying with 16000 columns, in total we have 16 billion cells in an excel file.

In the Ms Excel 2003 version, the number of rows is limited to 65000 rows and number of columns to 256 only.

We will learn more about the various operations which can be performed on columns and rows as we progress through the course.

How to use Excel?

Excel can be used in multiple platforms in all aspects of your career. All industries use Excel in all their basic calculation, data manipulation, creating a spreadsheet for financial analysis. Below is a brief description of the sectors where Excel has been used actively.

  • Investment banking

All the transactions are being maintained in software. But whenever the internal computation must regarding some specific data. They are firstly fetched into Excel. Then, it helps the bankers in all the quantitative analysis, including accretion of financial math and data mining. The banking official worked upon the company’s functioning model in Excel’s dynamic spreadsheet and rebuilt the model from scratch. The powerful Excel formulas help them in computing the calculations

  • Private equity

Excel is one of the most widely used tools in investment class (contains capital that is not listed on a public exchange). The excel financial formulas add up the efficiency in the calculation of the funds exchange and return profits. More than half percent of private equity use excel spreadsheet tools to monitor their investments quickly.

  • Corporate development

Corporate Development is a budding profile in any organization. Excel charts and pivot tables are used worldwide for successful presentations and meetings. With the help of excel advances tools one can easily share or interpret their idea and visually explain it to others. Hence, the executive can crack any deals with a confident visual strategy that could leverage the value of the company’s business platform.

  • Equity research

Excel is a powerful analytical tool. Equity research analyst focuses on the financial analyses and maintains the records of the qualitative and quantitative facets. They do time-to-time reviews and maintains the track record with the help of an Excel spreadsheet. The excels’ advance features make this analysis easy to maintain and visually more attractive.

  • Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)

Microsoft has toiled hard to expand the Excel spreadsheet’s ability to obtain and manage data. Excel has developed its “Get External Data” to “Get & Transform” functions in its previous versions. Due to the flexibility of Excel, it is broadly used in Financial planning and data analysis functionality.