Excel 2016: Getting Started with Excel

Lesson 1: Getting Started with Excel


Excel is a spreadsheet program that allows you to store, organize, and analyze information. While you may believe Excel is only used by certain people to process complicated data, anyone can learn how to take advantage of the program's powerful features. Whether you're keeping a budget, organizing a training log, or creating an invoice, Excel makes it easy to work with different types of data.

Watch the video below to learn more about Excel.

Getting to know Excel

If you've previously used Excel 2010 or Excel 2013, then Excel 2016 should feel familiar. If you are new to Excel or have more experience with older versions, you should first take some time to become familiar with the Excel interface.

The Excel interface

When you open Excel 2016 for the first time, the Excel Start Screen will appear. From here, you'll be able to create a new workbook, choose a template, and access your recently edited workbooks.

  • From the Excel Start Screen, locate and select Blank workbook to access the Excel interface.
    The Excel Start screen

Click the buttons in the elow to become familiar with the Excel interface.

doneedit hotspots

Working with the Excel environment

The Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar are where you will find the commands to perform common tasks in Excel. The Backstage view gives you various options for saving, opening a file, printing, and sharing your document.

The Ribbon

Excel 2016 uses a tabbed Ribbon system instead of traditional menus. The Ribbon contains multiple tabs, each with several groups of commands. You will use these tabs to perform the most common tasks in Excel.

  • Each tab will have one or more groups.
    Groups on the ribbon
  • Some groups will have an arrow you can click for more options.
    Some groups have a menu for more options
  • Click a tab to see more commands.
    Tabs on the ribbon
  • You can adjust how the Ribbon is displayed with the Ribbon Display Options.
    The Ribbon Display Options menu

Certain programs, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, may install additional tabs to the Ribbon. These tabs are called add-ins.

To change the Ribbon Display Options:

The Ribbon is designed to respond to your current task, but you can choose to minimize it if you find that it takes up too much screen space. Click the Ribbon Display Options arrow in the upper-right corner of the Ribbon to display the drop-down menu.

The Ribbon Display Options menu

There are three modes in the Ribbon Display Options menu:

  • Auto-hide Ribbon: Auto-hide displays your workbook in full-screen mode and completely hides the Ribbon. To show the Ribbon, click the Expand Ribbon command at the top of screen.
    Auto-hiding the ribbon
  • Show Tabs: This option hides all command groups when they're not in use, but tabs will remain visible. To show the Ribbon, simply click a tab.
    The Show Tabs setting
  • Show Tabs and Commands: This option maximizes the Ribbon. All of the tabs and commands will be visible. This option is selected by default when you open Excel for the first time.

The Quick Access Toolbar

Located just above the Ribbon, the Quick Access Toolbar lets you access common commands no matter which tab is selected. By default, it includes the Save, Undo, and Repeat commands. You can add other commands depending on your preference.

To add commands to the Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Select the command you want to add from the drop-down menu. To choose from more commands, select More Commands.
    The Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu
  3. The command will be added to the Quick Access Toolbar.
    The New command on the Quick Access Toolbar

How to use Tell me:

The Tell me box works like a search bar to help you quickly find tools or commands you want to use.

The Tell me box on the ribbon
  1. Type in your own words what you want to do.
    Typing a search phrase in the Tell me box
  2. The results will give you a few relevant options. To use one, click it like you would a command on the Ribbon.
    Results from the Tell me bar

Worksheet views

Excel 2016 has a variety of viewing options that change how your workbook is displayed. These views can be useful for various tasks, especially if you're planning to print the spreadsheet. To change worksheet views, locate the commands in the bottom-right corner of the Excel window and select Normal view, Page Layout view, or Page Break view.

The worksheet view commands
  • Normal view is the default view for all worksheets in Excel.
    Normal view
  • Page Layout view displays how your worksheets will appear when printed. You can also add headers and footers in this view.
    Page Layout view
  • Page Break view allows you to change the location of page breaks, which is especially helpful when printing a lot of data from Excel.
    Page Break view

Backstage view

Backstage view gives you various options for saving, opening a file, printing, and sharing your workbooks.

To access Backstage view:

  1. Click the File tab on the Ribbon. Backstage view will appear.
    Click File on the Ribbon to go to the Backstage view.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about using Backstage view.

edit hotspotsThe Backstage view.

Return to Excel

You can use the arrow to close Backstage view and return to Excel.


  1. Open Excel 2016.
  2. Click Blank Workbook to open a new spreadsheet.
  3. Change the Ribbon Display Options to Show Tabs.
  4. Using the Customize Quick Access Toolbar, click to add New, Quick Print, and Spelling.
  5. In the Tell me bar, type the word Color. Hover over Fill Color and choose a yellow. This will fill a cell with the color yellow.
  6. Change the worksheet view to the Page Layout option.
  7. When you're finished, your screen should look like this:
    Getting To Know Excel Challenge
  8. Change the Ribbon Display Options back to Show Tabs and Commands.
  9. Close Excel and Don't Save changes.