An Introduction to Microsoft Excel | Basics Knowledge + Components + Examples

The truth is, before you go for a job interview, you must have basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel.

From an accountant to a receptionist, human resource to administration department all are using Microsoft Excel.

It is not only limited to the large companies, small entrepreneurs and college students are using it for their day to day work.

That's something which you can’t skip. 

To get a job, learning basic Excel tasks (at least some) is must in today's era, that’s a firm truth.

And, to help you in this I have compiled this guide.

This guide will help you to learn all those basics using some examples and some of the most important beginner's tutorials. 

So without further ado let's get down to the business…


There are numbers of spreadsheet programs but from all of them, Excel is most widely used.

People have been using it for last 30 years and throughout these years, it has been upgraded with more and more features.

​The best part about Excel is, it can apply to many business tasks, including statistics, finance, data management, forecasting, analysis, inventory, billing, and business intelligence.

Following are the few things which it can do for you.

  • Number Crunching
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Store and Import Data
  • Manipulating Text
  • Templates/Dashboards
  • Automation of Tasks
  • And Much More...

Three most important components of Excel is which you need to understand first:

1. Workbook

A workbook is a separate file just like every other application has. Each workbook contains one or more worksheets.

You can also say that a workbook is a collection of multiple worksheets or can be a single worksheet.

You can add or delete worksheets, hide them within the workbook without deleting them, and change the order of your worksheets within the workbook.

2. Worksheet

A worksheet is made up of individual cells which can contain a value, a formula, or text. It also has an invisible draw layer, which holds charts, images, and diagrams.

Each worksheet in a workbook is accessible by clicking the tab at the bottom of the workbook window.

In addition, a workbook can store chart sheets; a chart sheet displays a single chart and is accessible by clicking a tab.

3. Cell

A cell is a smallest but most powerful part of a spreadsheet.

You can enter your data into a cell either by typing or by copy-paste. Data can be a text, a number, or a date.

You can also customize it by changing its size, font color, background color, borders, etc.

Every cell is identified by its cell address, cell address contains its column number and row number (If a cell is on 11th row and on column AB, then its address will be AB11).

Window Components

Before you start using it, it’s really important to understand that what’s where in its window.

So ahead, we have all the major component which you need to know before entering the world of Microsoft Excel.

excel basic with window components

1. Active Cell

A cell which is currently selected. It will be highlighted by a rectangular box and its address will be shown in the address bar.

You can activate a cell by clicking on it or by using your arrow buttons. To edit a cell, you double-click on it or use F2 to as well.

2. Column

A column is a vertical set of cells. A single worksheet contains 16384 total columns.

Every column has its own alphabet for identity, from A to XFD. You can select a column clicking on its header.

3. Row

A row is a horizontal set of cells. A single worksheet contains 1048576 total rows.

Every row has its own number for identity, starting from 1 to 1048576. You can select a row clicking on the row number marked on the left side of the window.

4. Fill Handle

It’s a small dot present on the lower right corner of the active cell. It helps you to fill numeric values, text series, insert ranges, insert serial numbers, etc.

5. Address Bar

The address bar is the small input bar at the left side of the window.

It shows the address of the active cell. If you have selected more than one cell, then it will show the address of the first cell in the range.

6. Formula Bar

Formula bar is an input bar, below the ribbon. It shows the content of the active cell and you can also use it enter a formula in a cell.

7. Title Bar

The title bar will show the name of your workbook, followed by the application name (“Microsoft Excel”).

8. File Menu

The file menu is a simple menu as like all other applications. It contains options like (Save, Save As, Open, New, Print, Excel Options, Share, etc).

9. Quick Access Toolbar

A toolbar to quickly access the options which you frequently use. You can add your favorite options by adding new options to quick access toolbar.

10. Ribbon Tab

Starting from the Microsoft Excel 2007, all the options menus are replaced with the ribbons. Ribbon tabs are the bunch of specific option group which further contains option.

11. Worksheet Tab

This tab shows the all the worksheets which are present in the workbook. By default you will see, three worksheets in your new workbook with a name of Sheet1, Sheet2, Sheet3 respectively.

12. Status Bar

It is a thin bar at the bottom of the Excel window. It will give you an instant help once you start your working in Excel.

Basic Functions

Basic Tips

Recommended Books

Below are my two favorite Excel books for beginner's which every person which is starting out with Excel should read.

This book covers everything you need to know to perform the task at hand. 

Includes information on creating and editing worksheets, formatting cells, entering formulas, creating and editing charts, inserting graphs, designing database forms, adding database records, using seek-and-find options, printing, adding hyperlinks to worksheets, saving worksheets as web pages, adding existing worksheet data to an existing webpage and sending worksheets via e-mail.

Whether you are just starting out or an Excel novice, the Excel 2016 Bible is your comprehensive, go-to guide for all your Excel 2016 needs.

Whether you use Excel at work or at home, you will be guided through the powerful new features and capabilities by expert author and Excel Guru John Walkenbach to take full advantage of what the updated version offers.

Learn to incorporate templates, implement formulas, create pivot tables, analyze data and much more.

  • Thanks for sharing this informative post. It is very useful the beginners, who are new to excel.

    • Puneet Gogia

      You’re welcome. 🙂

  • vikrant m

    Hi…isnt that the column is vertical set and rows are horizontal…

    • Puneet Gogia

      Thanks for the correction.

  • Edwine Mokaya

    thanks a bunch

    • Puneet Gogia

      You’re welcome.

  • Uche Nwankwo

    Hi, I believe the column is vertical while the row is horizontal

    • Puneet Gogia

      Thanks a lot.