Excel 2003 – The Basics

Please read Microsoft Excel – The Basics before reading this article.

Starting A New Spreadsheet

Starting a new spreadsheet in Excel 2003 is very easy.  All you need to do is open the software and it will load itself into a blank spreadsheet ready for you to edit.

If you already have a spreadsheet open it’s just as easy.  All you need to do is click the new spreadsheet button in the tool bars (circled below).

Excel 2003 - New Button

Or you can go to the File menu, and choose New.  This will behave slightly differently and a Screen will appear to the side of your spreadsheet giving you some options (these are circled in the screen shot below)

Excel 2003 - New Spreadsheet Selection

–         Blank workbook will create a new empty spreadsheet for you to work on
–         From existing workbook will allow you to create a spreadsheet which is a copy of a spreadsheet you’ve already created
–         Templates allow you to fill in a spreadsheet that has already been created; there are links for templates that Microsoft has created online, templates that may already exist on your computer, and Templates on other websites.

When you hover over one of these options your mouse point will turn into a little pointing hand, and the text will be underlined.  If you click then Excel will create a spreadsheet of the type you have chosen (or display the File Open dialog box if you wish to use an existing spreadsheet or a template).

Saving a Spreadsheet

After you have been working on a spreadsheet you will want to save your work so you can return to it at a later point.  There’s two ways you can do this you can click on the Save button (circled below).  If the spreadsheet is one that you’ve used before this will save any changes you’ve made, otherwise the Save As dialog will appear allowing you to choose where you would like to save your file and what you would like to call it.  The default location that Excel (or any of the Microsoft Office applications) will choose to save is a folder called My Documents; if you’re unsure about what you’re doing this is a good place to save as it is also the first place the Microsoft Excel will look for files when you come to open them.

Top TipWe’d always recommend calling the file something that’s descriptive of the contents so you’re able to find it again easily.

Excel 2003 - Save Button

The other way to save a file is to use the options in the File Menu.  If you click on this you will see three different options for saving (circled in the picture below).

Excel 2003 - File Menu Save Options

Save will save your spreadsheet in exactly the same way as the Save button I described above – if it’s a spreadsheet you’ve already created it will just save any changes you’ve made, otherwise it will display the file name dialog box asking you to choose when and where you would like to save your spreadsheet.  As we mentioned above the default location that Excel (or any of the Microsoft Office applications) will choose to save is a folder called My Documents.

Assuming that you’ve already saved the spreadsheet once Save As is used to create a copy of the spreadsheet that you are working on.  If you click on this Excel will bring up the File name dialog box and ask you to choose where you would like to save the file, and what you would like to call it.  This won’t change the original file that you opened but will save any changes you have made to the spreadsheet.

Save As Web Page gives you the option to save your spreadsheet in a format that is readable by Internet Browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox.  This is useful if you have a spreadsheet that you are looking to publish onto the internet but probably isn’t the best save option to use when working with your personal finances!  When you click on this you will get a different version of the File Name dialog box which will take you through the different options for saving as a webpage and we’ll come back and look at this in a later tutorial.

Opening A Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet

Well you’ve setup your new spreadsheet, spent some time putting information into it, turned off the computer for the night, it’s the next morning and you want to add some more information how do you access your spreadsheet to be able to do this?  Well once again it’s very easy and there’s three ways of doing it.

You can click on the open button (circled below) this will then open the “File Open” dialog box.  In this screen you can navigate to the file you wish to open and click the Open button, your spreadsheet should then load.  The windows will automatically start looking for files in the My Documents folder but don’t worry if you saved your spreadsheet elsewhere as you can navigate through your computer in the same manner as you would when use Windows Explorer.

Excel 2003 - Open Button

Alternatively you can go into the File menu, and choose the option “Open” (circled below).  Once again this will give you the File Open Dialog box, allowing you to choose your file and then click on the open button to load the spreadsheet.  Remember to save when you’ve finished editing it!

Excel 2003 - File Menu Open Button

Finally you can go into the file menu, and at the bottom of the list of commands will be the names of the last five spreadsheets you accessed (circled in the screenshot below).  If you click on the name of the spreadsheet you would like to open, then that sheet should open instantly for you.

Excel 2003 - Recently Opened Documents

Closing A Spreadsheet

When you have finished working with your spreadsheet it is always important to close it properly.  When you have finished with your spreadsheet if you go into the file menu there is an option saying Close (circled below).

Excel 2003 - File Menu Close Button

If you have made any changes to the spreadsheet Excel will bring up a message asking if you wish to save your spreadsheet.

Be careful, if you click No any changes you’ve made to the spreadsheet will be lost and you’ll have to re-do them if you want to keep them.  If you click Yes, any changes you’ve made will be saved and the Spreadsheet will be closed.  Finally if you click Cancel you will be returned to your spreadsheet and nothing else will happen.

That’s the end of this guide – click here for the same functions in Excel 2007 and stay tuned for more guides coming soon.

Mug shotAbout the author
Alex is a guest contributor to the Refresh Technology website. He has experience of providing IT Support for one of the largest Local Authorities in the country. He seemed to become the go-to guy for problems with MS Office, though Excel still slightly scares him.