What is Excel?

Excel is aspreadsheetprogram from Microsoft và a component of its Office hàng hóa group for business applications. Microsoft Excel enables users khổng lồ format, organize and calculate data in a spreadsheet.

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By organizing data using software like Excel, data analysts and other users can make information easier khổng lồ view as data is added or changed. Excel contains a large number of boxes called cells that are ordered in rows & columns. Data is placed in these cells.

Excel is a part of the Microsoft Office và Office 365 suites và is compatible with other applications in the Office suite. The spreadsheet software is available for Windows, macOS, Android và iOS platforms.

Common Excel use cases

Excel is most commonly used in business settings. For example, it is used in business analysis, human resource management, operations management and performance reporting. Excel uses a large collection of cells formatted lớn organize và manipulate data & solve mathematical functions. Users can arrange data in the spreadsheet using graphing tools, pivot tables and formulas. The spreadsheet application also has a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications.


Organizations use Microsoft Excel for the following:

collection và verification of business data; business analysis; data entry và storage; data analysis; performance reporting; strategic analysis; accounting và budgeting; administrative & managerial management; trương mục management; office administration.

Excel terminology và components

Excel has its own terminology for its components, which new users may not immediately find understandable. Some of these terms and components include the following:

Cell. A user enters data into a cell, which is the intersection of a column và row. Cell reference. This is the set of coordinates where a cell is located. Rows are horizontal và numbered whereas columns are vertical and assigned a letter. Active cell. This is the currently selected cell, outlined by a green box. Workbook. This is an Excel tệp tin that contains one or more worksheets. Worksheet. These are the different documents nested within a Workbook. Worksheet tab. These are the tabs at the bottom left of the spreadsheet. Column & row headings. These are the numbered & lettered cells located just outside of the columns & rows. Selecting a header highlights the entire row or column. Formula. Formulas are mathematical equations, cell references or functions that can be placed inside a cell lớn produce a value. Formulas must start with an equal "=" sign. Formula bar. This is the long input đầu vào bar that is used to lớn enter values or formulas in cells. It is located at the đứng top of the worksheet, next lớn the "fx" label. Address bar. This bar located to the left of the formula bar shows the number và letter coordinates of an active cell. Filter. These are rules a user can employ khổng lồ select what rows in a worksheet lớn display. This option is located on the vị trí cao nhất right of the home bar under "Sort & Filter." An tự động hóa filter option can be selected to show rows that match specific values. AutoFill. This feature enables users khổng lồ copy data khổng lồ more than one cell automatically. With two or more cells in a series, a user can select both cells & drag the bottom right corner down lớn autofill the rest of the cells. AutoSum. This feature enables users to địa chỉ cửa hàng multiple values. Users can select the cells they want to add and press the Alt & Equal keys. There is also a button lớn enable this feature on the top right of the trang chủ page, above "Fill" and to the left of "Sort & Filter." PivotTable. This data summarization tool sorts và calculates data automatically. This is located under the insert tab on the far left. PivotChart. This chart acts as a visual aid to lớn the PivotTable, providing graph representations of the data. It is located under the middle of the insert page, next to maps. Source data. This is the information that is used khổng lồ create a PivotTable.
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This image shows key features of Excel.

Advanced Excel capabilities

More advanced tools in Excel include the following:

TREND function. This tool is used khổng lồ calculate linear trend lines through a set of Y or X values. It can be used for time series trend analysis or projecting future trends. Trendlines can be used on charts. VLOOKUP. The Vertical Lookup, or VLOOKUP function, can be used to tìm kiếm for values in a larger data set và pull that data into a new table. VLOOKUP is a cell input đầu vào command that looks lượt thích =VLOOKUP(). The parentheses include the data the user wants to lớn look up, where to lớn look for it, the column number with the value lớn return; or optionally, the user can specify an Approximate or Exact match indicated by True or False. Table Array. This is a combination of two or more tables with data & values linked and related khổng lồ one another. This is part of VLOOKUP. Col_index_num. Another value when creating a table array that specifies the column from where data is being pulled. Range_lookup. This value in VLOOKUP provides information closest khổng lồ what a user wants to find when nothing matches other variables. This is represented by a true or false label. False gives the exact value a user is looking for và True gives results from a variable data range. MAX and MIN functions. These functions provide the maximum and minimum values from selected data sets. MAX is used to find the maximum value in a function tab & MIN is used to lớn find the minimum value. AND function. This function has more than one criteria phối when searching variables. If a variable matches the criteria, the value will be returned as true; if not, it will be returned as false. The input đầu vào for the function should look lượt thích this: =AND (logical1, , ...).

Additional functions for use in Excel include subtract, multiply, divide, count, median, concatenate and other logical functions similar lớn AND, such as OR.

Excel & XLS files

An XLS file is a spreadsheet tệp tin that can be created by Excel or other spreadsheet programs. The file type represents an Excel Binary tệp tin format. An XLS file stores data as binary streams -- a compound file. Streams & substreams in the file contain information about the nội dung and structure of an Excel workbook.

Versions of Excel after Excel 2007 use XLSX files by default, since it is a more mở cửa and structured format. Later versions of Excel still tư vấn the creation & reading of XLS files, however. Workbook data can also be exported in formats including PDF, TXT, Hypertext markup language, XPS và XLSX.

Macro-enabled Excel files use the XLSM tệp tin extension. In this case, macros are sets of instructions that automate Excel processes. XLSM files are similar to XLM files but are based on the open XML format found in later Microsoft Office software.

Excel competitors

Even though Excel might be one of the most recognizable spreadsheet programs, other vendors offer competing products. Examples include the following:

Numbers. Apple"s spreadsheet program comes không lấy phí with every Mac and provides prebuilt templates, charts & graphs. Numbers excels at graphics & charts, but it does not handle large data sets as well as Microsoft Excel. Numbers is also exclusive for Apple"s devices. But it does enable users to save spreadsheets as Excel files, so a Windows user can still mở cửa a Numbers spreadsheet in Excel. Apache OpenOffice Calc. This không tính phí open source spreadsheet software features multiple user collaboration; natural language formulas that enable users to lớn create formulas using words; DataPilot, which pulls data from corporate databases; and style and formatting features that enable different cell formatting options. The software uses a different macro programming language than Excel & has fewer chart options. OpenOffice Calc works on Windows và macOS platforms. OpenOffice Calc also uses the mở cửa Document Format as its default, with only limited tư vấn for Microsoft"s XLSX format.
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This image compares Microsoft Excel và Google Sheets.

History và future of Excel

Microsoft released Excel in 1985 under the name Microsoft Multiplan. Microsoft"s spreadsheet program competed with similar products at the time, including Lotus 1-2-3 from the Lotus Development Corp. Although Lotus 1-2-3 was reportedly the first spreadsheet to lớn introduce cell names & macros, Multiplan used a graphical user interface và enabled users khổng lồ point and click using a mouse. Multiplan made it easier khổng lồ manipulate, process and view spreadsheet data.

Initially, Multiplan lost popularity on Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) systems when competing with Lotus 1-2-3. Two years after its initial release, in 1987, Microsoft introduced Excel version 2.0. By 1988, this new version, now on Windows platforms, began lớn outsell Lotus 1-2-3 and other similar spreadsheet programs.

In 1990, Microsoft released version 3 of Excel, with features such as toolbars, 3d charts, & drawing và outlining capabilities. Version 4 came along two years later and added the auto-fill function. In 1993, version 5 of Excel was released. This version included Visual Basic for Applications macros, which enabled regular tasks to be automated.

One of the next big updates khổng lồ Excel was version 12, which was released in 2007. This update used a new Ribbon menu system. Improved functions included a SmartArt mix of diagrams, better management of named variables & more flexibility for formatting graphs. Excel moved to using the more structured and open XLSX files as well. Version 15 released in 2013 included new tools such as nguồn View, power nguồn Pivot & Flash Fill. This version also improved multithreading capabilities.

The current version of Excel, version 16, was released in 2019. Since its conception, Microsoft Excel has become one of the most widely used business applications & is often paired with other Microsoft apps such as Word, Outlook and PowerPoint. Although Microsoft no longer updates Excel as different versions, it rolls out new features & updates automatically over time.

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Microsoft Excel is arguably one of the most popular spreadsheet applications và has long since played a role in businesses. However, with the popularity of other current spreadsheet software, Excel now has increased competition. The website askwonder.com claims that the collection of apps in Google Suite, which includes Google Sheets, is used by 2 billion users every month, whereas Microsoft Excel has an estimated 750 million to 1.2 billion monthly global users. Google và Microsoft bởi vì not publish monthly usage for either spreadsheet program, so it is difficult khổng lồ estimate values.

Learn more about the different benefits of using Excel for HR in this article.