The First Encounter With Microsoft Excel – Part I

The 2003 Microsoft Excel interface is quite simpler than that of the 2007 version:

Microsoft Excel 2003 Interface

(Click to enlarge)

Here is a snapshot of the menus bar in the 2003 version of Microsoft Excel:

Microsoft Excel 2003 Menus Bar

(Click to enlarge)

Open Microsoft Excel. Select a range of cells. Note the shape of your mouse pointer which is a big white plus sign. It means you are going to select cells. Press Data in the menus bar and a drop-down menu appears:

Microsoft Excel 2003 Data Menu

Choose the Sort command. You will get an error message since you are working on a new empty sheet:

Microsoft Excel 2003 Error Message Due to Empty Sheet

So, you see, you have to fill cells with data before using some commands, such as Sort. But, if you want to make a ready-to-use formatted table, you can. Let us take the following issue as an example.

Creating a Personal Balance Sheet:

Khawla wants to control her monthly expenses. Her only source of income is her salary, which is not accumulating enough. Khawla wants to have at least AED100,000 to be in her bank account in the end of 2011. She decided to use Microsoft Excel to make a simple Personal Balance Sheet in order to see clearly how she uses her salary and how much remains at the end of each month.

First, Khawla drew the plan of how the table is going to look when finished in Microsoft Excel on a sheet of paper:

Personal Balance Sheet Plan

(Click to enlarge)

Then, she opened Microsoft Excel and saved the file with the name “Personal Balance Sheet”. Looking at the table’s plan, she noticed that she has to draw a table in Microsoft Excel that has 10 columns, 1 row for the column’s titles, and a multiple of other rows for the expense data for every month. Khawla says that “Since Microsoft Excel is already a huge unformatted table, I will do some make-up and make it very meaningful!” Khawla decides to create her table by first marking it with borders. Borders will clearly identify the table and will make it very readable. She decides that to make her table look beautiful, she will separate some columns as well as years with thick borders, and so on.

She clicks cell B4 …

Microsoft Excel 2003: Selecting A Cell - White Plus Sign Mouse Pointer

… and writes “Year”. She selects the cell on the right by pressing the Right Arrow on her keyboard and writes “Month”. She does the same for the other 4 cells, and here is how she got so far:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Typing in Cells

“Something looks weird”, Khawla said. She notices the following:

1. The column titles “Start Balance” and “End Balance” are not fit well in their cells.

2. The “Outflows” column is actually made up of 5 colums in one, not one.

3. The column titles have to be exactly centered.

How to solve this? What a puzzle! “But, never be worried, for there is a solution to every problem!” First, Khawla tries to make the column titles centered. She selects all of them, right-clicks the mouse, clicks Format Cells in the pop-up menu, …

Microsoft Excel 2003: Right-Clicking on a Cell

… and clicks the Alignment tab:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Alignment

She sees Text alignment and notices the Horizantal: and Vertical: options. She wants the title columns to be centered both vertically and horizontally, so she chooses Center for the two options, presses OK and here is what she gets:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Entered Data

Still, she is not happy with how both the “Start Balance” and “End Balance” titles appear. She cannot see them! “Is there a way of increasing the column widths of “Start Balance” and “End Balance” so they show these column titles clearly?” Khawla points her mouse up between Column D and Column E and notices the change in the mouse pointer’s shape:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Expanding Columns - Black Two-Arrow Mouse Pointer

“Something tells me that this shape of the mouse pointer means expansion!” She presses it, and Column D expands a little and now “Start Balance” fits in its cell! Khawla follows the same steps for “End Balance” and it fits in its cell as well:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Entered Data

Now, Khawla wants to make the “Inflows” column made up of five columns, not one. How to go around solving this puzzle? She stares at Microsoft Excel and thinks: “There must be a way!” While thinking, she selects five adjacent cells somewhere in the sheet, right-clicks the mouse, and clicks on Format Cells. “There has to be a solution here to solve this.” As the Format Cells command window appears, the Alignment tab is already shown and Khawla notices Merge cells with a tick box to the right under the Text control option:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Alignment

“That is it!” Ticking this option and pressing OK, the five cells are now merged into one!

Microsoft Excel 2003: Merged Cells

Khawla presses Edit in the menus bar and chooses Undo Format Cells to unmerge the cells. She then cuts “End Balance” cell and moves it 4 cells away from “Outflows” cell:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Moving Cells

Again, the “End Balance” title is not clear, so Khawla widens Column K. Then, she selects the cell containing the “Outflows” title as well as the next 4 cells and merges them:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Merging Cells

Now, for the column titles remains the beauty part. Khawla decides to add borders to the title cells and make the titles’ text bold. She selects the title cells, right-clicks the mouse, selects Format Cells, and clicks the Border tab:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Adding Borders

She decides to choose a thick border with a Dark Yellow color, and clicks the illustrated border buttons to show all the borders and the one in between:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Formatting Borders

And here is what she gets:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Cells With Borders


A severe headache!

Save your work.

That is it for today. I will continue this story next time.


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2 Responses to “The First Encounter With Microsoft Excel – Part I”

  1. Microsoft Excel Helps in Setting Goals « Odd Number 7 Says:

    […] Excel Helps in Setting Goals By Khawla In a previous post, we know that Khawla has a goal: to accumulate AED100,000 in her bank account by the end of 2011. […]

  2. The First Encounter with Microsoft Excel – Part II « Odd Number 7 Says:

    […] Encounter with Microsoft Excel – Part II By Khawla We continue our story from where we stopped last […]

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