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A Complete Guide to Excel Workbooks

To simplify data analysis, ample tools have been developed over the years which can handle vast amounts of data and help apply complex mathematical operations on data. Users may need extensive training to learn the specific tools and pay a reasonable amount for tool subscriptions. However, most of the business world may not require complex analysis on massive data, making it worthless to spend time training or pay hefty subscription charges. Sometimes all that is needed is a simple tool available to everyone which can handle small data. Excel is one such tool that has been present for many years and helps users store data, do a simple analysis, and represent data graphically. With its advanced features such as pivot tables, pivot charts, and macros, one can also do cutting-edge research on limited data.

One of the most widely used applications in the business world is Excel. It is a simple, user-friendly, easily accessible, yet potent analysis tool for various objectives. It is part of the basic Microsoft Office Suite and is present in almost all computers and laptops. Excel stores data in the form of workbooks which is a collection of worksheets. Each worksheet contains cells to store or manipulate data; cells can be defined as building blocks of spreadsheets and are organized in terms of rows or columns in spreadsheets, making it easier for one to filter, sort, or manipulate data. One can add as many spreadsheets to a workbook or create new workbooks to classify different data sets.  The workbook is an effective way of organizing and sharing data across teams.

The current article will deal with various aspects of the Excel workbook in detail.

Creating Workbook

Excel applications start with creating the workbook. One can create an excel workbook in one of the following ways

  1. Using a blank document – Creates a blank workbook with three more  : topworldzone
  2. Using a template – Excel provides a few sample templates based on various requirements equipped with handy formulas and custom formatting.
  3. Using an existing workbook – One can open a current workbook saved in any location.

Loading Data

Once a workbook is created, the next step is to load data into the worksheet. One can either import or connect to external data sources to load the data. Excel applications support several sources such as Microsoft Access, Websites, SQL server, Microsoft Queries, etc. Connecting external data is beneficial as it avoids any copy-pasting of the data.

To import data stored in text format, the Excel application provides two options.

Delimited – If data is separated by any characters such as comma, semicolon, or tab. This option can be used effectively.

Fixed Width –  If data is with fixed width in each row, this option is best suited.

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Saving a workbook

Excel allows saving a workbook in various formats including comma-separated values (csv), text format (txt), XML, PDF, XLS, XLSM etc.

Workbook operations

Various operations are allowed in Excel workbooks, such as inserting new worksheets and renaming/deleting/reordering existing worksheets. Some privacy options include hiding/unhiding/protecting the worksheets, while sharing options such as moving/copying the worksheet in existing or external workbooks are allowed. Apart from the above operations, one can highlight worksheets with different colors. It is an essential feature as it is sometimes challenging to find worksheets easily with names in a workbook.

Features of WorkBook

Pivot table and Pivot chart

Raw data in the unorganized form is challenging to summarize and may need good skills to organize. Pivot tables and Pivot Charts are essential features of Excel workbooks that enable users to organize data in a structured format for easy summarization or visualization.

A Pivot table is a powerful tool to calculate, summarize, and analyze data that lets you see comparisons, patterns, and trends in your data. It arranges extensive complex data in a simple grid-like matrix wherein all the data fields are listed and can be dragged and dropped into the table as a row and column. One can get insights from data such as patterns and trends in a matter of seconds. Pivot table makes data manipulation and filtering very easy and allows users to apply complex formulas.

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Like a pivot table, a pivot chart is a valuable feature that enables users to create a graphical representation of the pivot table. One can select a different chart or plot type such as scatter, bar, column, pie, etc. and organize them in any layout to create appealing visualization to communicate their findings.


This feature allows users to link any internal/external information or document such as video, audio, picture, text, etc. It is a shortcut to jump to another location which may be any other file or webpage, a place in an existing document, email address, etc.

Searching particular data

One of the powerful features of Excel workbooks is to find specific data in a worksheet. Imagine data with thousands of rows spread across scores of columns. It is difficult to find one particular value without this feature. It also provides the option to replace specific data with some other data, often required in data analytics.

Data Validation

It is a convenient feature wherein one can restrict the input data entered by the user. Often we require information from the user for further analysis using formulas. If the user enters any wrong inputs, it needs to be highlighted, or a message needs to be given to the user for entering the valid information. It helps datasheet owners to maintain data integrity, consistency, and accuracy.

Data validation restricts user input in several ways. Some options include limiting to a particular data type, allowing values in a predefined range, avoiding duplicates or nulls, text length for the password, etc.


Excel application allows users to work in different layouts such as normal, page break, page layout, and custom. Each layout gives certain advantages over the others to print contents in a presentable manner. Another option to help users is to freeze panes; this option allows users to freeze specific rows or columns. In the case of a large data set, it is very effective to see the titles of rows or columns.


Excel workbooks provide ample prebuilt formulas & code to make quick calculations. Formula with drag and fill option is quite handy for users and helps in analyzing extensive data quickly. Pre-built formulas are grouped as financial, logical, text, date/time, maths, etc., and available on the formula tab along with definitions for easy reference.


Excel application provides macros for advanced users to develop appealing dashboards, user input forms, and templates by writing their codes or recording the process steps to repeat them many times on different data. Macros help in automating repetitive tasks and save a lot of effort/time.

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