Excel basics: installation and basic setup

Excel basics: installation and basic setup
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Microsoft Excel is an indispensable program in many industries, such as accounting, marketing, healthcare or even science and research. In today's article, we'll walk you step-by-step through the installation process and basic Excel setup so you can start making the most of this tool right away.

Microsoft Excel - spreadsheet 

Need to get to grips with large amounts of data? Do you want to sort, filter, add or insert data into spreadsheets? Excel can do all of the above, but in addition to these options, you can also use various functions in Excel or create charts and contingency tables. But in this introductory episode, we'll only cover the basics of Excel, so you'll learn more about contingency tables in the sequel. 


How to download and install Microsoft Excel? 

Downloading and installing Microsoft Excel depends on what operating system you are using. Let's take a look at the two most widely used platforms, which are Windows and macOS. 


How to install for Windows? 

  • Open the official Microsoft Office website or click on this link: www.office.com.  
  • Sign in with your personal, work or school Microsoft account. If you don't have a license or subscription on your private Microsoft account, you can try Excel and the entire Microsoft 365 suite for 1 month for free
  • Select Install Application and select Microsoft 365 to start the installation. The default option is the 64-bit version, but you can also choose the 32-bit version. Then follow the on-screen instructions.  
  • Launch Excel and accept the license agreement when the program opens - you will not be able to use the application without this step. After this action, Microsoft Office Excel will be activated so you can start working.  

How to install for macOS? 

The procedure is similar to the Windows installation: 

  • Open www.office.com in your browser and log in to your Microsoft account or work or school account. 
  • Select Install Program and follow the instructions.  
  • Then launch Explorer, open your Downloads folder, and run the Microsoft_Office_20XY_Installer.pkg file (the name may vary slightly).  
  • The next step is to start the installation. Click Continue and confirm that you agree to the license agreement. This will start the installation. 
  • Select the required components, select the location on the disk and select Continue. 
  • You are likely to be prompted for verification. In that case, enter the login password (which you use to log in to your Mac) and then click Install Software. 
  • When the installation is complete, select Close. 

How do I install on a mobile device? 

You can also install Microsoft Excel on your mobile device. 

  • Android devices - open this page, click on the Install button and follow the instructions. 
  • iOS devices - go to this page, click Install and follow the next instructions. 

Basic Microsoft Office Excel settings 

You can set up Excel to best suit your needs. So what should you set up first when you open your workbook? 

1. Interfaces 

The first thing you see when you open Excel is the workbook. So you can first choose if you want to work with a blank workbook or if you want to use one of the predefined templates. You'll only see five of these, so if you don't choose one, click Show other templates.  

2. Number and data formats 

Right on the home page, under the Home tab, in the section called Number, you can set which data and number formats you want to work with. Select a cell or range of cells, click on the arrow to list the possible number formats, and select the appropriate format, such as time, currency, or text. In addition, you can specify data formats such as percentages or decimals. This menu can be found directly under number formats. 

3. Locking rows and columns 

If you are working with large data or want to see the heading of a section, use the Anchor Partitions option to lock rows and columns. How to do it? Highlight the first row of your table and select the Anchor Top Row option on the View tab in the section called Window. This will ensure that the headings remain visible even when scrolling

Do the same for columns. Simply select the corresponding cells and choose Anchor First Column in the View tab

4. Automatic calculations 

Use the Format as Table option to filter and sort your data in a table. This will make it easier to work with mathematical operations such as SUM for sum, AVERAGE for average, or IF for conditional calculations. You'll find the Format as Table option on the Home tab in the section called Styles - you'll be interested in the icon in the middle. Click on it and select the table of your preference. 

5. Sheet Protection 

You can also protect your data and sheets from unwanted changes. In the Revisions tab, click on Manage Protection. The protection settings will appear in the right-hand bar, where you can also choose a password. 

6. Automatic saving  

Autosave is available if the file is stored in Microsoft OneDrive or SharePoint in Microsoft 365. You can set up autosave in the File tab, where you click Save As. Select your personal, work, or school OneDrive account, select your subfolder, and select Save


And that's it from the intro. In the next installment, you'll learn about the most important functions and formulas, conditional formatting, or how to work with data and charts. Until the next installment is published, you can pass the time with an article on how to use Microsoft Outlook or PowerPoint.

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