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The different parts of the Excel Screen Tutorial
Excel 2016 - Learn Excel Basics Tutorial

Free Online Microsoft Excel Tutorials

* How does the Excel Ribbon work?
* QAT - Quick Access Toolbar options
* Rows and columns in a worksheet
* Worksheet tabs in a workbook
* The Name Box and Formula Bar

If you are new to Excel, it is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the layout and terminology for all the parts of the Excel 2016 screen.  The Excel screen comprises elements such as the Ribbon, Tabs, Quick Access Toolbar, Name Box, Formula Bar, Column and Row Labels, cells and Worksheet Tabs.

Test your Excel skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
The Excel Screen - 2016 Excel Basics Test

* How does the Excel Ribbon work? Excel 2016

The Microsoft Excel Ribbon is where you will find all the functions, options and settings to use Excel efficiently. The Ribbon in Excel 2016 contains options for everything: from making your Excel worksheet look good and setting out how your worksheets print, to building complex financial or programmatic formulas and functions.

Before you can explore the rest of the MS Excel screen, understanding how the Ribbon and menu items are organized, is essential.

Study the image of the Excel screen below.  The Ribbon has been outlined in yellow:

How does the Excel Ribbon work?

Let’s investigate each area of the Ribbon:

Tabs: Let’s investigate each area of the Excel Ribbon

1. Tabs - the Excel Ribbon will change, displaying different function buttons, depending on which tab is selected.  To select a tab, click on any of the default tabs on the Excel 2016 Ribbon: File, Home, Insert, Page Layout, Formulas, Data, Review, View or Developer. 

The function buttons that display on the Excel Ribbon

2. The function buttons that display on the Ribbon relate to the Tab that is selected. In the example below, the Home tab is selected and the functions which display relate to essential Excel functions such as cutting and pasting, formatting text and setting cell alignment. 

The function buttons on the Ribbon in Excel is divided into groups

3. The function buttons on the Ribbon in Excel is divided into groups of similar function buttons.  For example, the Font group contains function buttons pertaining to changing the font type, size and color.  This makes it easy to find functions on the Ribbon in the Excel screen.

The dialog box launcher opens a box that has additional and advanced options

4. The dialog box launcher opens a box that has additional and advanced options relating to a specific group on the Ribbon.  For example, if you are looking for a font option that you cannot see within the Font group under the Home tab, click on the dialog box launcher to see additional options, like superscript and strikethrough.  The dialog box launcher button is very small and easily missed – we have magnified it for you in the screenshot above.

To master how the Ribbon works, open your copy of Excel 2016 and click on each tab individually, carefully studying the Microsoft Excel Ribbon areas.

1. Can you see the relationship of each tab to the groups and functions that appear when the tab is selected?
2. Look at the groups and how they are organized. Do all groups have dialog box launchers?
3. Resize your Excel window.  What happens to the Ribbon? Does it stay the same or does it look different?
4. What options do you have when you right-click on the Ribbon area?

* QAT - Quick Access Toolbar options - Excel 2016

The Excel Quick Access Toolbar is like a mini-Ribbon and very useful for option buttons you use frequently, saving you time in having to navigate through the Excel Ribbon and function groups to find a specific option. The Quick Access Toolbar is also known as the QAT or shortcuts menu. 

You will find the QAT in the top left-hand corner of your Excel 2016 screen:

1. Functions are displayed as icon buttons.  In the area labelled as 1 in the screenshot below, the QAT contains buttons for: Save, Undo, Redo, Open and New. 

QAT - Quick Access Toolbar options - Excel 2016

2. It is easy to add additional shortcut options to the Quick Access Toolbar in Excel: either click on the More Options arrow (labelled as 2 in the screenshot above) OR right-click on any option on the Excel Ribbon, and select to add the option to the QAT.


The Quick Access Toolbar can save you a lot of time! It is worth making the effort to master the skill of adding and removing options to this mini-menu in Excel:

1. What happens when you hover your mouse cursor over the function shortcut icons in the QAT? Does it display the function name?
2. Can you find a way of adding the Printing and Spelling checker functions to the QAT?
3. Are you able to easily remove shortcut buttons from the Quick Access Toolbar that you don’t find useful?

* Rows and columns in a worksheet

The area of the Excel screen where you add text, numbers or graphical content, is like no other word processing or design program you may have experience with using.  An Excel worksheet, also called a spreadsheet, is divided into multiple columns and rows (1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns to be exact).  For any worksheet you create, you use only as many rows and columns as you need for your data and ignore the blank, unused rows and columns.  You can also merge data across columns or rows and add separate lines of content within the same cell.

To understand how this works, lets study the worksheet in the image below:

Rows and columns in a worksheet – Excel 2016

1. The area labelled as 1 contain the column labels.  Columns are labelled alphabetically, with the first column being A. 

2. The area labelled as 2 contain the row labels.  Rows are labelled numerically, with the first row being 1. 

3. Each block within an Excel worksheet is called a cell. Each cell has an address based on the column and row intersection they appear in.  In the image above, the cell labelled as 3, is located in Column I and Row 6. This cell’s address will therefore be: I6

One of the reasons Excel works with a grid divided into cells, is to enable the content of each cell to be treated both individually and collectively with other cells (rows and columns) to be used in calculations in formulas and functions and for data analysis.

Carefully study the Excel screen grid in your copy of MS Excel 2016:

1. Can you identify the column and row labels?
2. Is it easy to see the grid?
3. Can you find the cell location for cell C9 on your sheet?

* Worksheet tabs in a workbook - Excel 2016

Worksheets, also known as spreadsheets, within an Excel workbook, are the digital versions of the different tabbed sections you would find in a traditional paper folder.  You may, for example, have an invoice folder, where you inserted tabs for each month of the year to separate and organize invoices into month sections.  In Microsoft Excel, these tab sections or dividers are called Worksheets. 

In the screenshot below is an example of a workbook containing five visible worksheet tabs:

Worksheet tabs in a workbook - Excel 2016

1. The area labelled as 1, contains worksheets that have been named: January, February, March, April and Quarter Total.  Depending on the workbook you are viewing, the worksheet labels will be different. In a blank new workbook, a worksheet label will be titled Sheet1.  When you click on a worksheet tab label, that worksheet will open. 

2. When a workbook contains multiple worksheets, these may not all be visible at the same time due to space constraints.  In the area labelled 2 in the screenshot above, you will find arrows to navigate backwards and forwards through all the worksheets in an Excel workbook.

3. The Add New Worksheet button is labelled as 3 in the screenshot above. To add more worksheets to a workbook, click the plus sign.


Open a workbook in Excel:

1. Can you identify the worksheet tabs easily?
2. Add 15 new worksheets to the workbook.
3. Are you able to navigate and view all the individual worksheet tabs in the workbook?

* The Name Box and Formula Bar

The Name Box and Formula Bar, which are located in the area between the Ribbon and the worksheet grid, serve two purposes: they provide you with information about the cell (or collection of cells) you have selected and you can insert information into them to name and add content to selected cell(s).

In the screenshot example below, the Name Box and Formula Bar are labelled as 1 and 2:

The Name Box and Formula Bar – Excel 2016

1. The Name Box contains the name of the cell which is selected within the worksheet. If you study the screenshot, you will see there is a green border around Lynn Norton’s surname [Norton] in row 4, column B.  The Name Box therefore displays the cell address which is: B4. The Name Box can also contain customized names for cells or ranges of cells.

2. The Excel Formula Bar reflects the contents of the cell which is selected. In this Worksheet cell B4, which is selected, contains the word Norton. You can type directly into the formula bar to change the cell contents.  The Formula Bar becomes really useful when a worksheet contains formulas or functions, where the worksheet cell will display the result of the calculation, the Formula Bar will display the actual formula or function.

An Excel worksheet can look overwhelming, especially if it contains a lot of data.  When you look at a worksheet, can you identify:

1. Where the Name Box is?
2. Where the Formula Bar is?
3. Cover the Name Box with one hand whilst selecting different cells in the worksheet.  See if you can guess what the Name Box will display with each cell you select.
4. What happens when you click in the Formula Bar and type your name followed by pressing the Enter Key?

Now you have done the tutorial:

Test your Excel skills with the corresponding FREE Online Multiple Choice
The Excel Screen - 2016 Excel Basics Test