Excel 2007 – The Basics

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

Starting A New Spreadsheet

Starting a new spreadsheet in Excel 2007 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 have an Excel window open it’s easy.  All you need to do is click the round circle with the windows logo in the top left corner of the software (circled below).   This will give you access to the file menu.

In the menu that’s displayed choose the first option in the left column – New.

This will bring up the new workbook screen (shown below) allowing you to choose from a standard blank spreadsheet, any spreadsheet templates that are installed on your system, a copy of a spreadsheet you have already created, or a Template provided by Microsoft through their website.

On the right hand side of the screen there will be a preview of the spreadsheet that you are about to create to give you an idea of what the finished product will look like.  The catergories to left-hand side are broken down as follows.

–           Blank and recent – this gives you the option of a blank workbook which is an empty spreadsheet for you to work on, or any templates that you have used recently.  This functions almost like a collection of your favourite different types of spreadsheets.
–          Installed Templates – this will give you a selection of templates installed on your computer and allow you to use one of these for creating your spreadsheet
–          My Templates – allows you to select specific templates and to use this menu as a shortcut for loading them.
–          New from existing… –  will allow you to create a spreadsheet which is a copy of a spreadsheet you’ve already created
–          Microsoft Office Online – Microsoft provides a range of templates in different categories.  These are spreadsheets already setup to specific designs that only require you to fill in the relevant data.   These spreadsheets all come from the Microsoft website so may not be available to you if you don’t have a internet connection.

If you select the template that you would like to use in the centre area of the screen, it should then be highlighted in a yellow/gold box.  You should then be able to click the create button in to the bottom right corner to create the new spreadsheet.

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, if you haven’t edited the quick launch icons in Microsoft Excel 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 2007 Quick Launch Save Button

The other way to save a file is to use the options in the File Menu, which is accessed by clicking the circle with the Windows Logo in the top left corner of the software.  If you click on this you will see two different options for saving (circled in the picture below).

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 will expand out into a range of different options as shown in the Screenshot below:

The different options do the following:

–          Excel Workbook – this allows you to save your spreadsheet as a standard Excel Spreadsheet.  You should be able to open this on any computer which has Microsoft Excel 2007 or later installed.  If you try and open this file type of a computer with an older version of the software installed it may not open if the correct convertors haven’t been installed.
–          Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook – This will save the workbook in a similar style to the Excel Workbook save options.  The only difference is that it will also include any macros that have been included with the workbook.  We’ll come back to this when we talk about Macros at a later point
–          Excel Binary Workbook – this saves your workbook into a very simple format which can be used to transfer it between systems, or for importing the data into another piece of software.  We will cover what this is and how it works in a later guide.
–          Excel 97-2003 Workbook – This gives you the option to save the spreadsheet as though it was created in Microsoft Excel 2003.  This may lose some of the newer features, but should allow you to open the spreadsheet on an older computer without encountering any problems.
–          Open Document Format – this is a format where the coding it uses is freely available on the internet.  This means that different pieces of software can read the file without needing the specialised de-coders that Microsoft provides.  You are unlikely to need to use this format as most pieces of software can read Excel spreadsheets without a problem.
–          PDF or XPS – this will export you document into a PDF or XPS document.  A PDF document is a fairly universal document that can be read as long as you have a free piece of software called Adobe Reader.  The advantage of this format is that the spreadsheet is guaranteed to look the same, no matter which computer it is opened on, and it is also very hard to edit a PDF report.  If you are submitting a spreadsheet digitally for a report or presentation that it is normally recommended to convert it to PDF first.  The XPS file format is very similar to the PDF format except that this has been created by Microsoft.  XPS files need a special viewer that is not always installed on Windows XP computers, but should be included with the operating system on Windows Vista or Windows 7 computers.  While these both offer similar options PDF tends to be used more because it is more easily accessible.
–          Other formats – this allows you to save your document into all the other formats that Excel can support saving into.  You are unlikely to need to use these given that the common save formats are all covered above.

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 a couple of ways of doing it.

The other way to save a file is to use the options in the File Menu, which is accessed by clicking the circle with the Windows Logo in the top left corner of the software.  If you click on this you will see two different options for opening (circled in the picture below).

You can click on the open button (circled in red) and 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 window 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 will also keep a record of all the files that you’ve worked on recently (circled green in the screenshot).  This will show the last ten spreadsheets that you’ve opened, as well as any spreadsheets that you open regularly.  If you want to open a spreadsheet from here you just have to move the mouse over it so the name highlighted in a yellow box, and click – the spreadsheet should open.

Top Tip – when you are working on a spreadsheet it’s a good idea to save at regular intervals so you don’t lose any work.

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 which is accessed by clicking the circle with the Windows Logo in the top left corner of the software, there is an option saying Close (circled below).

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 2003 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.