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Getting Started

Spreadsheet Basics course

  • Offered by DataCamp for free (but you do need to create an account)
  • Uses Google Sheets, but covers basics (how a spreadsheet works, cell references, and formulas) for both Sheets and Excel
  • You get a statement of accomplishment upon completion!

Microsoft Office documentation


These links are (mostly) to Excel 2013 video tutorials. Most of these instructions will apply to later versions of Office as well. Some of the options will have different locations in the menus/ribbon in other versions of Excel (especially between Mac and Windows products).

You can see what version(s) of Excel each video/article applies to at the top of each page.

DataCamp offers a free course on Data Analysis with Spreadsheets that you may also find useful.

Workshop Handouts

Preparing an Excel Workbook for Presenting to Others

Microsoft Excel: Basics

PivotTables in Excel

Excel Charts and Tables

What's the Difference between a Spreadsheet and a Database?

Microsoft Exel is a spreadsheet program. Other spreadsheet programs include Calc ( - Mac and PC platforms), Numbers (iWorks for the Mac), Lotus 1-2-3 (IBM for PCs, though this will no longer be supported after September 30, 2014), and many others. The most important information to know about spreadsheets is that they have limits and a spreadsheet is not the right tool for every for every project. Spreadsheets are great for doing calculations for small data sets, tracking small data sets over the short term, and visually presenting data. Databases are better at tracking large data sets with complex relationships and are meant to be used over long periods. They can also perform calculations on large data sets.

Penn State University Libraries Technology Training's has created a set of guidelines for determining whether or not your project is suitable for a spreadsheet or a database.

Helpful Excel Tutorials