Excel Basics:

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
Did you want Working with Numbers: 2007,2010,2013,2016  or españolIcon: Change web

You enter data when you type text or numbers into an empty cell. If a cell already has data, your typing overwrites the existing data. You edit data when you make changes to existing data. You clear data when the cell's contents are erased, but the cell itself is not deleted. 

With this lesson you start creating a spreadsheet yourself. This sheet will be used throughout the lessons, as you learn more and more about spreadsheets.

After a bit of practice, you will enter data for the document that you will be building on for the rest of the lessons in this project.

The Story so far

If you worked through the Working with Words lessons, you have already met World Travel Inc. You will be creating a spreadsheet for this fictional company. 

World Travel Inc. sent out a promotional flyer for their 10th anniversary, offering special prices on some special trips for their best customers. The special trips are to Tahiti, New Zealand, and a round-the-world cruise. The travel agency can also create trips to other destinations. You will create a spreadsheet to keep track of the sales from this flyer.

Flyer for World Travel Inc. created in Working with Words project 1

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Numbers

Before you start...

Project 1: Excel IntroTo subtopics

Project 2: Excel Basics  
Getting Started Arrow to subtopics
      Icon - FootprintRegional Settings
      Icon - FootprintAppearance
      Icon - FootprintPage
      Icon - FootprintMargins
      Icon - FootprintHeader/Footer
      Icon - FootprintSheet
      Icon - FootprintOptions
      Icon - FootprintEnter/Edit/Clear Popup Table
    ArrangeTo subtopics
    AutoFillTo subtopics
    FinishTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics

Project 3: Format & ArrangeTo subtopics

Project 4: Groups & FormulasTo subtopics

Project 5: DesignTo subtopics


Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Enter/Edit/Clear

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to enter data into a cell
to edit existing data in a cell
to clear data from a cell

Start with:Class disk  Icon - Excel with blank document (a blank workbook)

Select: Cell

  1. Select cell A1 at the upper left by clicking it. (It should be already selected when you open a new workbook.)

    The status bar shows Status Bar says Ready the word Ready and the cell has a darker, wider border than other cells. You are ready to enter data!

Data Entry: Type

  1. blinking cursor in cellType This is a cell  while A1 is selected. Do not press ENTER yet. The Status bar shows Statusbar: Enter Enter. 

    When you start typing, the pointer changes to the I-beam and a blinking cursor appears in the cell to show where the next character will appear. The characters appear in the standard font (also called Normal), which you selected in Options dialog  ( Tools  |  Options  |  General ).

Erase Data  (before ENTER)

  1. Press the ESC key to cancel your typing. All changes to cell A1 vanish. This works only if you haven't pressed ENTER yet.
  2. Retype the text and press ENTER. The selection moves to the next cell down and your typing is accepted into the cell. The Status Bar now shows Statusbar: Ready Ready.

Erase Data  (after ENTER)

Several methods work to erase, or clear, a cell after the data has been entered into the cell.

  • Clear Contents

    1. Menu - Clear contentsRight click on cell A1, and from the popup menu select  Clear Contents...  (This command is also on the Menu bar as Edit  |  Clear  |  Contents…)

      The data in the cell is erased. Any formatting will remain and will be applied to new data that you enter later. 

    2. Undo.

    1. With cell A1 selected, press the DELETE key. Again the cell contents are erased. This works when you have many cells selected, too.
  • Drag

    1. Drag to clear contentsType numbers in the cells A1, A2 A3, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2, C3 as shown at the right.
    2. Select range A1:C3. The selected range has a small black square selected cell with AutoFill handle in the lower right corner.
    3. Drag the small black square back up into the selected region. The rows and/or columns you drag back over turn gray.
    4. Release the mouse button. The cells that you backed over are empty. This action is quite a surprise and can be hard to figure out if you were not warned about it.
    5. Drag up again to clear all the numbers from the cells.

Data Entry: Down a column

Now you will start creating your World Travel Inc. sheet. The fun begins!!

  1. enter text in cell A1Type World Travel Inc. in cell A1.
  2. Press ENTER to return to Ready mode and have your typing entered into the cell. The selected cell shifts to cell A2. (What cell is selected next when you press ENTER is set in  Tools  |  Options  |  Edit .)

    Tip enter Anniversary in A2Notice that the text in cell A1 overlaps its neighbor, cell B1. This happens only when the neighboring cell is empty. When B1 is not empty, its contents will hide the excess in cell A1.

  3. In cell A2, type Anniversary and press ENTER. The selected cell shifts to A3.

Edit data

It is likely that while entering data you will make a mistake that you don't see until later. Or perhaps you will change your mind about what you wrote. ESC or Undo won't help in after the data has been entered. Now you will learn how to edit data without having to retype the whole cell.

  1. Press the up arrow key to move the selection back to A2. The status bar shows Statusbar: Ready Ready.
    Warning If you start typing now, you will overtype what is in the cell.
  2. blinking cursorDouble-click cell A2. (Or you could click in the Formula bar.) The Status bar now shows Status bar says Edit Edit and the blinking cursor is in the text.
  3. Press the END key to move the cursor to the end of the text.
  4. finished row 2Type a blank space and then  Specials  and press ENTER.
  5. Press the down arrow once to select cell A4.

Data Entry: Across a row

  1. Type  Customer  in cell A4.
  2. Press the TAB key or the right arrow to move one cell to the right. Your typing is entered and the selection is moved to cell B4.
  3. Type  Trip 
  4. Use TAB to move over one cell right to C4.
  5. Type  # of people .
  6. Press TAB to move one cell right to D4.
  7. Type Cost each.
  8. Press TAB to move one cell right to E4.
  9. Type  Total sale 
  10. finished row 4Press ENTER. The selection moves down to Row 5. Which cell in row 5 will depend on exactly which keys you used to move across the row!

  11. Press HOME to move to the beginning of the row. Now you can start entering the customers and the trips they have purchased. The data is listed in the order that the trips were bought.
  12. In Row 5 enter the first customer and trip, in the appropriate cells:
     AAA Sales 
     Tahiti   7 
  13. Press the down arrow to move down to Row 6.
  14. Press HOME to move to the beginning of the row. Some of the text you typed is hidden by the next cell. You will fix this a little later.
  15. In Row 6 enter the following in the appropriate cells:
     Midland Associates   New Zealand   10 

    row 6 finished

  16. Press ENTER (and then HOME if necessary) to move to the beginning of the row.
  17. Continue entering data into cells, using the data shown in the table below. The horizontal lines are shown just to help you enter the data accurately. 

    AutoComplete: AutoComplete Tahiti Excel remembers what you type in each column and will offer to complete an entry if you start to type it later in the same column. The completion of the word or phrase is highlighted in the cell. You can accept this value by pressing ENTER or by using TAB or an arrow key to leave the cell. This can speed up your work when certain values occur repeatedly, like in the Trips column in this worksheet. Just keep typing if Excel's suggestion is not what you want.

    Data to enter


  1. Class diskIf you have not done so yet, label a removable disk as Class. Write your name and class info on the label of the disk. You don't want another student to wander off with all your work!

    If you have completed other Working with... sections, you should already have a disk like this. You may want to start a new disk or delete any files on the disk. A floppy disk can get full before you know it!

  2. Class diskInsert your disk into the disk drive.
  3. Create a folder named  excel project2 , if you do not have this folder already.  Details on how to create a folder are in Working with Windows: Files & Folders
  4. Click on  Button: Save the Save button. Since your document is new, the Save As dialog appears.
     full floppy diskHow to handle a full disk
  5. In the Save As dialog, save the document to your Class disk in the folder excel project2 with the name  trips.xls 

    TipAs you go through these lessons, your disk can get full, especially a floppy disk! Keep a spare blank disk handy.

    After enter, edit, and clear data
    trips.xls after Step-by-Step: Enter/Edit/Clear

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Last updated: 02 May 2012