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A manual I wrote in 2013.


Table of Contents


Welcome to Excel 2013. Excel is a great program to use for putting together budgets, lists for mail merges and other tasks that involve data. Excel 2013 has some of the great features of Excel 2010, but has expanded and improved upon some as well. In Excel 2013 you will find:

  • An easier to find and sleeker Backstage View

  • New charts and graphs that are easier to use

  • Make quick reports with Power View

  • Share files and work with other people

A Word About Office 2013

Office 2013 revolutionized the typing experience by upgrading several aspects of the creating process. Since Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system already adopted a whole new style (called "Metro"), this version of Office does the same thing. The startup screens and interface all look a little "flatter" and sparse. For example, Excel used to open up straight to a blank document, but now opens to a special start-up screen. You will also notice that when you open a program you'll see a colored menu (for example, Excel is green) that will give you a list of recent documents. Lastly, since the world is looking to go "cloud-based," all the features of Office adopt that philosophy and make it easier to store to the Cloud.


Excel SpreadsheetIntroduction_to_Excel_2013_html_2a49c04b


Quick Access Bar

A Customizable toolbar that contains a set of commands that are independent of the tab that is currently displayed. You may modify this toolbar by adding and/or deleting commands on the toolbar.

To add/delete commands:

  1. Click the arrow on the right hand side of the bar

  2. Select the name of the command that you want to add or delete

Check mark indicates that the command is currently active on the toolbar.


The Ribbon

The traditional menus and toolbars have been replaced by the Ribbon--a device added in Office 2007 that presents commands organized into groups. The groups on the Ribbon display the commands that are most relevant for each of the task areas in the applications.

Minimizing the RibbonIntroduction_to_Excel_2013_html_m753f542

The Ribbon can be minimized so that it is not visible while you are in your spreadsheet.

  1. Click the arrow on the right hand side of the Quick Access Toolbar

  2. Select Minimize the Ribbon

Quick Access Toolbar--this is a customizable toolbar that contains a set of commands that are independent of the tab that is currently displayed. You may modify this toolbar by adding and/or deleting commands on the toolbar.

Ribbon Bar--the traditional menus and toolbars have been replaced by the Ribbon--a device added in Office 2007 that presents commands organized into a set of tabs. The tabs on the Ribbon display the commands that are most relevant for each of the task areas in the applications.

Sizing Buttons--these buttons are used to manipulate the size of the spreadsheet window.

Name Box--this box displays the active cell.

Dialog Launcher--this appears in the lower right corner of a Group providing access to the Group's corresponding dialog box.

Formula Bar--this bar displays the data in the active cell.

Worksheet Tabs--these are new ledger sheets. You can rename these sheets using up to 31 characters in the name.

Zoom Control--this option will allow you to magnify your spreadsheet. Click and drag the slider to the right to increase magnification and click and drag to the left to decrease the magnification.

Status Bar--this bar displays the current settings and commands in Excel. Also, when two or more cells are selected, and one or more contains a value, the status bar displays a total for the selected cells.

Worksheet Tabs

Adding a Worksheet

Click on the Plus or the New Worksheet sheet tab


  1. Right click on a worksheet tab

  2. Select insert

  3. Select Worksheet

  4. Click OK

Renaming Sheet Tabs

To rename a worksheet tab, just follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the sheet tab or right-click the sheet tab

  2. Click Rename on its shortcut menu. The current name on the sheet tab appears selected.

  3. Replace the current name on the sheet tab by typing the new sheet name.

  4. Press Enter.

Excel displays the new sheet name on its tab at the bottom of the workbook window.

Color Coding Sheet Tabs

  1. Right click on the tab

  2. Select Tab Color

  3. Pick a color

Hide and Unhide Sheet Tabs

  1. Select the Page Layout Tab

  2. Select Cells--Format--under Visibility select Hide Sheet

  1. Click the View Tab

  2. In the window box select Hide or Unhide


As you begin to type you will notice that your information will appear in the formula bar as well as in the cell itself. Once you are done typing in a cell, you have to remember to ENTER that information in the cell. If you do not enter your information in that particular cell then Excel will not let you continue to the next step. Once your information has been entered, Excel will look at that particular cell as a label cell, any character that Excel cannot interpret as a number, date, time, or formula, or value cell, any character Excel interprets as a number, date, time or formula.

Ways to enter information in a cell

  • Click in another cell

  • Hitting the enter key

  • Hitting the tab key

  • Hitting the arrow keys

  • Clicking the blue check mark on the formula bar

Moving within the Spreadsheet

The mouse is easy to point, click and drag but it's sometimes difficult to control. Therefore, there are several keystrokes that can be made to accomplish the same task.

  • Arrow keys allow you to move one cell in the direction of that arrow.

  • Ctrl key + Arrow keys will take you to the four corners of the worksheet.

  • Ctrl + Home will take you to cell A1.

  • Tab moves one to the right and Shift + Tab moves one to the left.

  • Ctrl + N will open up a new workbook.

  • Ctrl + Page Down takes you to the next sheet in a workbook.

  • Ctrl + Page Up takes you to the previous sheet.

  • Ctrl + Spacebar will highlight the entire column containing the selected cell.

Selecting Cells

Non-consecutive cells

  1. Select the first cell

  2. Hold down the Ctrl key

  3. Select any additional cells

Consecutive cells

  1. Select the first cell

  2. Hold down the Shift key

  3. Select the last cell

Label and Value Cells

To access the Format Cells box click on the Dialog Launcher in the lower right-hand corner of the alignment box.


  • Select the Number tab to format any value cellsIntroduction_to_Excel_2013_html_m2d6ff5b

  • Select Alignment to format your value and label cells

  • Select font to format the appearance of your value or label cells

  • Select Border to add a border to your cells

  • Select Fill to shade your cells

  • Select Protection to lock your cells

Cut, Copy, Paste

In Office 2013 you have the Paste with Live Preview option. This option allows you to determine how your content will be pasted.

  1. Right click on the content that is to be cut or copied

  2. Select cut or copy

  3. Right click the cell where the content will be placed

  4. Select the paste option. To preview before you paste, hover your mouse over the available options

Note: Available paste options change to best fit the content you are reusing.

Formulas and Functions


A formula is a mathematical arrangement of one or more values, cell references, functions, and operations that produce a numeric value. The operators for formulas include:

+ Addition

      • Multiplication (asterisk)

^ Exponentiation

_ Subtraction

/ Division


A function is an abbreviation of a formula. It provides a quick way to calculate the value of a cell that would often require a long expression. Each function begins with an equal sign followed by the name of the function.


  • Calculations can only be performed on values.

  • To create a value cell you must always precede the data with an equal symbol (=).

  • When you have a formula that contains two or more operators Excel performs the calculations in the following order: percent, exponentiation, multiplication and division, addition and subtracting, concentration, comparison. To control this order of calculation, use parentheses. Excel evaluates all items within parentheses first, from the inside out, using the same order as listed.

Setting up a simple Sum function
(In this example we will add the values in cells A1 through A5)

  1. Select the cell where the answer will be placed. In this example, that cell is A6.

  1. Select AutoSum, which is now located on the Home tab on the Editing section.

  1. Select the values to add. Hit enter.

Formula AutoComplete

  1. Select the cell where the answer will be placed

  2. Type the equal sign and the beginning letters of the function

  3. The Formula AutoComplete box will appear with valid resultsIntroduction_to_Excel_2013_html_31dd71a9

  1. Double-click on the function

  2. Select the values to be included in the function

  3. Type in the end parenthesis

  4. Hit Enter

Cell References

Cell references can be included in formulas, built-in functions and mathematical operators. You can either type in a cell reference or select the cell with your mouse.

Relative cell reference such as A1, is based on the relative position of the cell that contains the formula and the cell the reference refers to. Example of a relative cell reference in a formula: =A1*23

Absolute cell reference such as $A$1, always refers to a specific cell in a specific location. Example of an absolute cell reference in a formula: =$A$1*23

Error Codes


What it Means



Formula contains an argument of the wrong type.

Make sure the formula or function is correct for the required operand or argument, and that the cells referenced by the formula contain valid values.


The numeric value entered into a cell is too wide and too long to display within the cell. In Excel 2007 and 2010 the column automatically resizes to fit the number. Resizing will not work if you have already set the column manually.

Follow the directions in this handout for changing the width of a column.


Formula is trying to divide by a zero value or a blank cell.

Check the divisor in your formula and make sure it does not refer to a blank cell.


This error occurs when the wrong type of argument or operand is used.

You've probably mixed two incompatible data types in one formula. Check the formula.


This code means that "no value is available."

You can enter this in a cell that temporarily has no value.


Formula contains text that is neither a valid function nor a defined name.

Look to make sure you didn't misspell a function name or range name.


Refers to intersection of two areas that don't intersect.

Choose new labels for the row or column or both.


This error occurs with invalid numeric values in a formula or function.

This usually means you've used a function incorrectly. Check your function.


This error occurs when a cell reference is not valid.

Did you delete a cell or range that this formula originally referred to? Check your formula.

Move and Copy

Move and copy are two powerful features available with a spreadsheet package. It gives the user the opportunity to copy or move contents of a cell to another cell without having to retype the information. The information can contain text as well as a formula or function.

Copying Text

  1. Select the cell(s) that you want to copy.

  2. Place your mouse over the bottom right corner of the cell.

  3. Hold down the left mouse button and click and drag until you come to you destination.Introduction_to_Excel_2013_html_m44df954

Moving Text

  1. Right-click on the cell(s) you want to move.

  2. Select cut.

  3. Click on the cell you want to move the information to, right-click and select paste.

Columns and RowsIntroduction_to_Excel_2013_html_7d71bd36

Hiding Columns

  1. Select a cell within the column(s) to be hidden.

  2. Click the Home tab, in the Cells group and click Format.

  3. Under the Visibility section select Hide & Unhide--Hide Columns.

Unhide Columns

  1. Select the columns adjacent to the hidden columns.

  2. Click the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format.

  3. Under the Visibility section, select Hide & Unhide--Unhide Columns.

**Apply the same procedures to hide/unhide ROWS.**

Changing the width of a column and row

  1. Place your mouse pointer between the Column or Row head; a cross will appear.

  2. Take the cross and click and drag with your mouse to the left or right depending on how wide or narrow you want your columns or rows to be.


Double click on the line in between the Column or Row header.

Changing the width of two or more consecutive columns or rowsIntroduction_to_Excel_2013_html_m11aa0e1

  1. Highlight the entire row or column you want to change.

  2. Place your mouse between any of the rows or columns you have highlighted; a cross will appear.

  3. Move the cursor to the right or left depending on how wide or narrow you want your columns or rows to be.


Comments can be used to document information, explain calculations and reminders.

  1. Select the cell where the comment is to be placed.

  2. Right-click in the cell and select insert comment; a comment box will appear.

  3. Click inside the comment box and begin typing.

  4. Once you are finished typing select any cell in the spreadsheet.


Comment boxes will display one of two ways. They will either be hidden or displayed on the spreadsheet. To get either option, click the comment and look to your Ribbon and under the Comments section, click Show/Hide Comments. You can also select either option by right-clicking in the cell with the comment box and select Show Comment or Hide Comment depending on which option is available.

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