Introduction to Microsoft Excel

In this article, we will introduce you to excel and discover its capabilities and how we can take advantage of them to enhance our productivity. We will cover the following topics

What is Microsoft Excel?

Why should I learn Microsoft Excel?

Where can I get Microsoft Excel?

The difference between excel and CSV file

Summary

What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that is used to record and analyse numerical data. Think of a spreadsheet as a collection of columns and rows that form a table. Alphabetical letters are usually assigned to columns and numbers are usually assigned to rows. The point where a column and a row meet is called a cell. The address of a cell is given by the letter representing the column and the number representing a row. Let's illustrate this using the following image.

Introduction to Microsoft Excel

Why Should I Learn Microsoft Excel

We all deal with numbers in one way or the other. We all have daily expenses which we pay for from the monthly income that we earn. For one to spend wisely, they will need to know their income vs. expenditure. Microsoft Excel comes in handy when we want to record, analyze and store such numeric data.

Where can I get Microsoft Excel?

There are number of ways in which you can get Microsoft Excel. You can buy it from a hardware computer shop that also sells software. Microsoft Excel is part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs. Alternatively, you can download it from the Microsoft website but you will have to buy the license key.

The difference between excel and CSV file

CSV is the acronym for "comma separated values". It is used to store tabular data where the column names and row values are separated using commas. The following image illustrates this

Introduction to Microsoft Excel

Differences between CSV and Excel files

CSV File
Excel File

Ends with CSV file extension

Ends with xls. file extension for 2003 and xlsx for versions higher than 2003

Can be opened with many different programs i.e. Excel, text editors i.e. notepad, etc.

Only opens in spreadsheet programs i.e., Excel, Google Spreadsheets, etc.

Cannot save Excel formulas & formatting

Can save formulas & formatting

Similarities between CSV and Excel Files

  • Both can be opened in spreadsheet programs
  • Both store data in tabular formats i.e. columns and rows
  • Both can be manipulated using functions and features found in Excel.

The following screenshot shows a CSV file opened in Excel

Introduction to Microsoft Excel

Summary

Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program used to record, manipulate, and store numeric data.