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What is a Workbook ?


A workbook is the name given to an Excel document and has the file extension (".xls").


A workbook contains one or more worksheets and there are 3 worksheets in the default workbook.


There are tabs at the bottom of the workbook to enable you to select which worksheet is currently displayed.


It is best to think of a workbook as a stack of worksheets all on top on each other.


Using multiple worksheets within a workbook allows you to organise your data better.


The default naming convention for workbooks is Book1, Book2, etc.


You can open as many workbooks as you like (memory allowing) but there can only ever be one Active Workbook at any one time.



Using the Control Buttons


When you open Excel there are actually two separate windows.


Both these windows have what are called control menus.


The icon in the top left hand corner is known as the control menu and the three buttons in the top right hand corner provide shortcuts for commands on this menu.


You can also display the control menu by pressing the left mouse button on the icon in the top left corner.



The outside window is the Title Bar or Application Window.


This window displays the name of the application and the name of the active workbook.


The workbook name will only have a file extension once it has been saved.


Minimise - Excel is reduced to a button on the taskbar.


Restore - Restores the application window to its original size before it was maximised or minimised.


or Maximise - Increases the size of the Excel window to fill the whole screen.


Close - Closes Excel completely.



The inside window is the Menu Bar or Workbook Window.


Minimise - Workbook is reduced to a small icon within Excel.


Restore - Restores the workbook window to its original size before it was maximised or minimised.


or Maximise - Workbook is increased to fill the whole application window. When the window is maximised this button changes to restore.


Close - Closes the active workbook.



How can I create a Workbook ?


When you start Excel an empty workbook is automatically opened for you.


You can easily create a new workbook by selecting (File > New) and clicking on Blank workbook in the New Workbook task pane.


You can also use the shortcut key (Ctrl + N).


Alternatively you can use the button on the Standard toolbar.


 New - Creates a new workbook with the default number of worksheets.


When a workbook is open the name of the workbook is displayed in the title bar (top left hand corner).


If the name of the workbook does not have an extension associated with it, then the workbook has never been saved.


By default every new workbook consists of 3 worksheets although this can be changed by selecting (Tools > Options)(General tab, Sheets in new workbook).


You can also create workbook from Windows Explorer by right clicking in a folder and selecting (New > Microsoft Office Excel worksheet (this should say workbook ?).



How can I open a Workbook ?


You can open a workbook by selecting (File > Open) or by using the shortcut key (Ctrl + O).


Alternatively you can use the button on the Standard toolbar.


 Open - Displays the (File > Open) dialog box.


When you display the (File > Open) dialog box, a default folder location is used. This can be changed from (Tools > Options)(General tab, Default File Location).


If you save all your workbooks in the same folder it is definitely worth changing your default folder.


You can also double click an Excel file from within Windows Explorer. Excel files have the file extension (".xls"). If Excel is not currently open then it will open automatically.


You can also open a file using the Recently Used Menu. This is located at the bottom of your File menu (see below).


 Recently used Menu


By default your last 4 Excel workbooks that have been opened using the (File > Open) dialog box will be listed here. You can select one of these to quickly re-open the workbook.


You can change the number of files listed here by selecting (Tools > Options)(General tab, Recently used file list). This can be a number between 1 and 9.


The list of recently used files is also displayed at the bottom of the Getting Started task pane.


If you attempt to open an Excel workbook that is already open you will be asked if you want to open a read-only copy.



How can I save a Workbook ?


It is good practice to save your work frequently especially when you have just made substantial changes.


You can save the active workbook by selecting (File > Save) or by using the shortcut key (Ctrl + S).


Alternatively you can use the button on the Standard toolbar.


 Save - Saves the active workbook.


When you save a workbook for the first time the (File > Save As) dialog box will be displayed.


You can save your files with a different name or in a different location by selecting (File > Save As) or by using the shortcut key (F12).


There is also an AutoRecovery feature that can automatically save a workbook recovery file on a periodic basis.


AutoRecovery should not be used as an alternative to saving your workbook using (File > Save) but just as an extra safe guard.



How can I close a Workbook ?


Closing your workbooks when you have finished with them can be done in several ways.


The easiest way is to select (File > Close) or by using the shortcut key (Ctrl + W).


You can also close the active workbook by clicking on the icon on the left of the Menu Bar.


 Workbook control menu


An alternative way to close the active workbook is to press the black cross on the control menu in the top right hand corner of the Menu Bar.


You will be prompted to save the changes when you close a workbook that has been changed since it was last saved.


If you close Excel when there are workbooks open, a dialog box will be displayed for each workbook that has had changes made to it.



How can I close Excel ?


The easiest way to close Excel by selecting (File > Exit) or by using the shortcut key (Alt + F4).


If you quit Excel when several (previously saved) workbooks are open and are not saved you are given a “Yes To All” option which allows you save and exit them all without being prompted individually.


You can also close Excel by clicking on the icon on the left corner of the Title Bar and selecting Close.


Another alternative is to press the black cross on the control menu in the top right hand corner of the Title Bar.



How can I delete a Workbook ?


There are several ways you can delete unwanted workbooks.


Probably the easiest way is to open Windows Explorer, browse to the folder, select the file and press Delete.


You can also delete workbooks from the (File > Open) and (File > Save As) dialog boxes.


Just select the workbook and either use the Delete button on the top or select the file and use the shortcut menu.



Things to Remember

  • If you have several workbooks open and you want to close them all quickly, hold down Shift and select (File > Close All). You will be prompted if there is any unsaved data.

  • You can view your workbooks on the full screen by pressing (View > Full Screen). This will maximise the amount of information that is viewed by removing all the toolbars except the menu bar. It will maximise Excel on your PC though.

  • If you re-name any workbook files using Windows Explorer do not forget to keep the (".xls") file extension. This extension identifies the file as being an Excel workbook.

  • The (Edit > Undo) command is workbook (not worksheet) specific and can be used to undo the last 16 actions.

  • You can also use the shortcut key (Shift + F12) to save a workbook.

  • You can also use the shortcut key (Ctrl + F12) to display the (File > Open) dialog box.


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