But that's only the beginning. Suppose you need to revise your figures. No problem. Re-enter them, and Excel will re-do the calculations automatically.
And there’s more. Excel lets you change the width of the columns and the height of the rows, make text wrap in cells, change text fonts and colors, add borders and lines, and even change the color of the cells, to produce an attractive document.
All of this makes Excel ideal for such business applications as budgets, transaction records, accounts payable, accounts receivable, or inventory control, just to name a few. In addition, Excel does many types of calculations that are useful to scientists and engineers. Or you can use it at home to keep track of your household income and expenditures.
But Excel is about more than just row and column arithmetic.
An Excel worksheet is part of a workbook file. Worksheets can be linked, and so can workbooks. This means that data from many worksheets can be rolled up to summary sheets, and data from many workbooks can be rolled up to summary workbooks.
Automatic recalculation and linking across worksheets and workbooks make Excel a powerful tool for data modeling. In a set of linked workbooks, you can change input values to see how different inputs produce different results. Then you can present your results either as numerical data or in a chart.
You can create attractive charts based on your data. You can choose from many different chart types, including the popular column, bar, line, and pie, in both two and three dimensions. And, of course, you can paste the charts you create in Excel into Word documents or PowerPoint presentations.
Excel also shares many features with database management systems such as Access. You enter data in an Excel worksheet by columns and rows, just as you do in a data table in Access. So you can keep names and addresses, employee records, or client lists in Excel. Then you can sort your data, filter it to display only the rows that match specific criteria, or cross-tabulate it in a pivot table.
These database-management features in Excel lead many to use it as a "front end," or user interface, for a database.
Others use it as a platform for building sophisticated, powerful applications. Excel was the first program to implement Visual Basic for Applications, the macro language that is now supported by all members of the Microsoft Office family.
Box shots reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.