Microsoft Excel – The Basics

Microsoft Excel is a piece of software that allows you to create, and manage spreadsheets.  You can use a spreadsheet for anything that would be table based and Excel includes the option to run simple and complicated calculations on your data through the use of formulas.  The Aim of this guide is to show you have to create, save, re-open and close an Excel spreadsheet using Excel 2003 or Excel 2007.

How Do I Tell Which Version Of Excel I Am Using?

As this guide is split I thought I’d best start by showing you how to check which version of Excel you have installed on your home computer.  There’s a couple of different ways of doing this.

1. Check Your Desktop Icons

On your desktop (the screen with all the icons that you see when you first log into the computer) there is normally an icon for Excel.  If you click on this is should show the name of the software it will open below the icon stating either Microsoft Excel 2003, or Microsoft Excel 2007 (pictures below).

Excel 2003 Desktop IconExcel 2007 Desktop icon

2. Check The Start Menu

If you cannot find the icons for Microsoft Excel on your desktop, you can try looking at your Start Menu to see if this holds any clues.  By clicking on the Start Button and going to all programs you should be able to find an option for Microsoft Office 20XX – this will then tell you which version of Excel you have installed on your system:

Start Menu Showing Excel 2003Start Menu Showing Excel 2007

Note – The screenshots in this guide have all been taken on a computer running Windows XP.  If you’re using a computer running Windows Vista or Window 7, instead of a button saying “Start” you’ll have a circle with the Windows logo in it, at the bottom left-hand corner of your screen.  This will respond in the same way as the “Start” button shown above.

3. See What The Software Looks Like

If you’re still unsure as to which version of Excel you have installed on your computer you can have a look at the software itself for a clue.  Microsoft gave the interface a large overhaul between Excel 2003 and Excel 2007 so by looking at what it looks like when you open the software it can give you a clue as to which version you are using.

If the software you have installed is Excel 2003 or older then when you open the software it will look like this:

Excel 2003 Screenshot

However if you are using Excel 2007 or a more recent version it will look more like this:

Excel 2007 Screenshot

Hopefully we have now been able to identify which version of Excel you are using.  If you use the links below they will take you to the relevant section of the guide for the software you have.

Excel 2003 Desktop IconExcel 2007 Desktop icon

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.