Basic Skills for the Workplace: Excel

There are essentially three things you need to know how to do in Excel in order to provide a useful and accurate spreadsheet to a boss or colleague.

The first thing to do, of course, is make sure all the columns in your spreadsheet are useful and relevant. Otherwise, you're just wasting space and people's time, and too much time wasted means people might not even bother to read it.

Use Multiple Sheets

There are tabs on the bottom of the document. By default, they are called Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3, but you can call them something more useful (like "Red Team," "Blue Team" and "Green Team," if those describe your project). You can also add or delete sheets. Right-click (or CTRL+click on a Mac) and select the proper action.

Sort Alphabetically or Numerically

The easiest way to look at data is in order. So why not present it that way? Select the column you want to sort by, by clicking on the letter at the top. Then, press either the "A->Z" or "Z->A" button, depending on which way you want to sort. You'll get a pop-up box asking if you want to "Expand the Selection." You do. It means that all the other columns will re-sort so that all the data remain in the correct rows.

Mathematical Formulas

These are pretty much the reason we still use spreadsheets. Here is how to set up your spreadsheet.

1. Click in the cell where you want the formula to calculate.
2. Click the equals sign (=).
3. Click a cell that has the first bit of data you want in the formula.
4. Put in the sign of the function you want to use (+, -, * or /)
5. Click the next cell in the formula.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you reach the end
7. Hit your "Enter" key.

You can ensure this formula reaches all cells in the column by clicking on the cell that has the formula in it, then grabbing the little black square at the bottom right and dragging it all the way down the column.

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