Chapter 1: Excel Overview

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Above is the link to the book I am reading and reviewing.  Although this first chapter may have been trying at times for me (as you are about to read), it is a very thorough book and is a great addition to anyone’s library wishing to build their Excel knowledge!

So let’s just dive in… this first chapter was … rough… yes, I think that is probably the word that best sums it up.  They weren’t kidding when they named the chapter an overview… It contained every little nuance of Excel.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  Well, keep reading and you will understand my frustration!

It started with all the possibilities of how you might use Excel.  News flash: if you start talking about text manipulation, graphical dashboards, etc., you are going to need to give more information or a reference page number to it look-up!  I was left thinking, “What???”

So, for me, that was not a great start.  It moved on to the new features in Excel 2016… ugh!  This really should not have been called Chapter 1, maybe just Introduction or miscellaneous Trivia facts about Excel.  Okay, so I pushed on, only now I received every definition ever conceived that might be used in Excel… thank you, but no thank you!  Seriously, I do not need to know what a draw layer is this early in my Excel knowledge!  So, yeah, this was not going well.  By now, I have had to take multiple breaks to breathe, found my son’s M&M’s stash (don’t judge me), and ranted and raved to my husband who sweetly listened to my complaints.

Continuing on, I plowed through topics such as parts of the Excel screen, navigating with both your mouse and keyboard, navigating the ribbon, every button type you might encounter, etc. … You’re welcome!  I read it and will now pass the relevant knowledge along to you in a video, shortly. I am getting a new computer (🎉🎉🎉) in a couple of weeks and will create the video then.

If you made it through the first part of the chapter, you were finally rewarded with “Creating Your First Excel Workbook.”  They provided a hands-on activity to start your Excel journey.  What was pretty cool about this section was how it intermingled basic with some cool tips to expand your Excel efficiency (and I am ALL for efficiency).  It thoroughly walked the user through creating their first set of data, creating a table, creating a chart, and finally printing the product.  Now, I am finally getting more excited! As a tactile/visual learner, I needed to get my hands dirty in Excel to truly learn the information.  This book does a great job of explaining every step needed while not being too patronizing for more advanced users.

So here are a few topics that I thought were cool and helpful for anyone who ever uses Excel.

  • Auto Fill – Excel is a pretty smart program and picks up on patterns in your worksheet.  For example, if cell A1 is Jan, not only does Excel recognize this is short for January, but it also can help you finish filling in the months, Feb, Mar, etc.!  I will be working on a video to help show this, but for now, I will have to leave you in suspense!
  • Formatting – Excel has so many different ways to format each cell.  A shortcut to opening the formatting dialog box, because that is the official term for what pops up, is highlighting or selecting the cells you would like to format and using CTRL+1.  The box below should pop open. Format Dialog Box So right now, cell A1 (Jan) is selected.  If I decide to change the format, only this cell will be affected.  And look at all your different options for formatting!  When selected, each category gives you a brief description on what it looks like, as well as giving you a “Sample” view of your current selected cell.  Seriously, if you have never formatted cells, just play around with it today!  Just think about the possibilities in your own life and how you could utilize Excel…
  • Tables – Okay, it may already be obvious by now, but this is not my first Excel rodeo!  I am a daily user of Excel, BUT I know enough to know I need to know more.  Tables is one of those topics that I did not even know existed until I read this chapter (personal example of why I emphasis learning something new every day).  So below are the quick steps to creating a table.  First, select the data you would like to include in your table.  In the Home tab, find “Format as Table” and click on it.  The drop-down menu below should pop up.  Select the style you would like and click on it. Another box will pop up asking what data you would like to “Format as Table”.  If you have already selected it, click Ok.  If not, select the data now and click Ok.  Look at you, being all fancy with tables!Table Formatting Table Formatting2Table Formatting3
  • Fun fact!  Excel auto saves your work every 10 minutes by default!  Thank you, Excel!  No seriously, THANK YOU!

So the chapter did start off pretty rough, but persevere and it seriously became exciting… ok, I may be one of the only ones excited, but I am so pumped to learn more in the next chapter, which is all about “Entering and Editing Worksheet Data”!  I know you are all waiting on pins and needles 😂  Until next time, keep learning!