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Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel 2013

Quick Start Guide

Microsoft Excel 2013 looks different from previous versions, so we created this guide to help you minimize the learning curve.
Excel Quick Start Guide

How to get started with Excel 2013

If you've been using Excel 2007 or 2010 and are familiar with the ribbon, you'll want to know what changed in Excel 2013. If you've been using Excel 2003, you'll want to know where to find the Excel 2003 commands and toolbar buttons on the ribbon.

We have many free resources to help you learn Excel 2013, including online training. Just select the question mark in the top-right corner above the ribbon to open Excel Help.
How to get started

Explore the ribbon

If you've used the ribbon in an earlier version of Excel, you'll notice a few changes. The Insert tab has new buttons to help you create charts and PivotTables. There's also a new Filters group with buttons for creating slicers and timelines.
Insert tab

Other tabs appear when you're working on certain things like charts and PivotTables. Those tabs have also changed to make things easier to find.
Chart tools

Things you might be looking for

Use the list below to find some of the more common tools and commands in Excel 2013.

  • To create, open, save, print, share, or export files, or change options, select "File" and look in the Backstage view (select the commands in the left pane).
  • To format, insert, delete, edit or find data in cells, columns, and rows, select "Home" and look in the Number, Styles, Cells, and Editing groups.
  • To create tables, charts, sparkles, reports, slicers, and hyperlinks, select "Insert" and look in the Tables, Charts, Sparkles, Filters, and Links groups.
  • To set page margins, page breaks, print areas, or sheet options, select "Page Layout" and look in the Page Setup, Scale to Fit, and Sheet Options groups.
  • To find functions, define names, or troubleshoot formulas, select "Formulas" and look in the Function Library, Defined Names, and Formula Auditing groups.
  • To import or connect to data, sort and filter data, validate data, flash fill values, or perform a what-if analysis, select "Data" and look in the Get External Data, Connections, Sort & Filter, and Data Tools groups.
  • To check spelling, review and revise, and protect a sheet or workbook, select "Review" and look in Proofing, Comments, and Changes groups.
  • To change workbook views, arrange windows, freeze panes, and record macros, select "View" and look in the Workbook Views, Window, and Macros groups.

Apply features without the ribbon

In Excel 2013, we've placed some frequently used but hard to find commands and buttons within easy reach.

When you select data on your worksheet, the Quick Analysis button appears. It gives you quick access to many useful features you may not have been aware of, and lets you preview them on your data before you make them stick.
Quick analysis formatting

When entering data, you might notice that Excel fills values automatically as it detects a pattern. You'll get the Flash Fill Options button to make further decisions.
Flash Fill Options

Better access to chart features

Creating a recommended chart is great way to get started, but you'll still want to customize the style and show the exact data you need to make it your own.

Excel 2013 gives you these options right next to the chart. Just select the Chart Elements, Chart Styles, or Chart Filters buttons to fine-tune your chart.
Chart elements, chart styles, or chart filters

How to work with people who don't yet have Excel 2013

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when sharing or exchanging files with people who are using an older version of Excel.

  • In Excel 2013, when you open a workbook that was created with Excel 97-2003, Excel opens the workbook in compatibility mode and keeps it in Excel 97-2003 file format (*.xls). When you save the workbook, Excel will tell you about compatibility issues if you've used new features that aren't supported in earlier versions of Excel. You can keep working in compatibility mode if you're sharing the workbook with people who don't have Excel 2013, or, if you're not sharing the workbook, convert it to the Excel 2007 - 2013 file format (*.xlsx) to take advantage of all new Excel 2013 features (select File > Info > Convert).
  • In Excel 2013, when you save your workbook as an Excel 2013 file, Excel saves the workbook in the Excel 2007-2013 file format (*.xlsx) so you can take advantage of all new Excel 2013 features. If you plan to share this workbook with people who use an earlier version of Excel, check the workbook for compatibility issues (select File > Info > Check for Issues). You can then see the issues and resolve them before you share the workbook.
  • In Excel 2013, when you save your workbook as an Excel 97-2003 file, Excel automatically checks the file for compatibility issues and shows them for any new Excel 2013 feature you used. To assess any compatibility issues and resolve them before you share the workbook.

Find advanced features

To record an occasional macro, you can use the Macros button on the View tab. But if you plan to routinely create or edit macros and forms, or use XML or VBA solutions, you'll want to add the Developer tab to the ribbon.

You can select it on the Customize tab of the Excel Options dialog box (select File > Options > Customize Ribbon).
Customize the Ribbon

The Developer tab appears on the ribbon to the right of the View tab.

Enable add-ins that come with Excel

Excel 2013 comes with several add-in programs that let you do some advanced data analysis. There are common Excel add-ins, such as the Analysis ToolPak or the Solver add-in.

Enabling add-ins adds them to the ribbon. Just select them in the Manage box on the Add-ins tab of the Excel Options dialog box (select File > Options > Add-ins), and then select "Go."
Excel options

If you have a Professional Plus version of Office, you'll also have some new add-ins, such as the Inquire, PowerPivot for Excel 2013, or Power View add-in. The Power View add-in even has a designated button on the Insert tab. Selecting that button the first time enables the add-in.

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