MVP #1: Meet Microsoft Excel, world's Number 1 Analysis tool

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Have you met Microsoft Excel?
I remember my first encounter with her 6 years ago, while in my 3rd year in the university. Our most geeky lecturer told us to make a GPA calculating sheet in Excel. That day, he moved up significantly in the disliked lists of most of us. In fact, I attributed my not-too-good grade in his course to that assignment. Then, I believed MS Excel is a specialist software like AutoCAD or Matlab, to be used by some industry and research geeks for some esoteric work. And that as long as I don't land a finance job, my world will be much better without MS Excel.

I was right. I didn't get to use Microsoft Excel until I landed a Business Analyst job doing some finance stuff day in day out (+ holidays and some weekends). And my corporate world has never been brighter. Monday to Friday are now my favourite days of the week, and holidays aren't really that special anymore. I now see myself as a magician, doing the seemingly impossible with data (of all sorts), saving the company money, making the company money and getting better at it. Now, I experience what career experts say - Find a job you love and work will be fun.

So, meet Microsoft Excel -

I prefer to split the entire MS Excel window into - menu bar, body and footer.

1. Menu Bar

The menu bar is the uppermost section of the Excel window, and I call it the menu bar because it houses all the settings you'll need for all the magics you'll be able to do if you keep reading my MVP posts. It houses the Quick Access Toolbar, File Tab, Ribbon and Formula bar. But don't bother too much about the names, because like me, you'll be able to milk all the magic they've got without remembering their names (I actually got help from Google to remember their names).

2. Body

This is the part you'll end up typing in, applying some mind twisting formulas and formatting to produce a job that a graphic artist will spend weeks trying to replicate with all the collections of his design software. Sadly, this is the part that gives a new user the most trouble. Excel is notorious for representing data in it's own esoteric way. When you type in a phone number it removes all the leading zeros, and when you type a long entry into a cell it makes it look like you've just wasted your time.
But, don't worry. I am going to show you the logic behind Excel's behaviour. You'll be so good that no one will believe you've ever struggled with Excel.
Oh, one more thing! The body is comprised of columns numbered A to XFD and rows numbered 1 to 1048576. Most importantly, where the rows and columns intersect are called Cells. So the body is essentially a gallery of cells.

3. Footer

This is the least used section. But it's not in anyway less magic-full. For now, just notice the Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3 at the base. You'll be needing them soon.

A bientot. 


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