Microsoft Excel 98 Macintosh/ 97 Windows


Unfortunately, the newer versions (> Excel 5.0) do not include interactive tutorials anymore. However, Excel 97/98 has the so-called Office Assistants and Help Books that allow you to search for answers to any of your questions. We have structured the following information about Excel according to your background level:

If you have never used Excel before

Getting information, while you work

In Excel 97/98, go to Help on the Menu bar and click Contents and Index. Open the book entitled Getting Help by double clicking . Then double click Ways to get assistance while you work. This will lead you to the following screen (looks slightly differently in Windows).

You will be able to click the links which will show you how to obtain answers to your questions. In order to get a general overview about a certain topic, it may be best to find the appropriate , open it and double-click the appropriate help files . You can learn a lot just by browsing. The Help on the web option is not very useful for fairly basic questions.

If you have used older versions of Excel or other spreadsheet before

Specific tips and advice

Over the years we noticed that there are several typical mistakes that students make when using Excel. Some of those are not obvious and the solution of the problem may be difficult to find in the on-line help files. We are listing those below.

  1. When making XY plots, do use the XY (Scatter) chart type, not the Line chart type, even, when you want to connect the data points by a line. A Line chart uses the row number on the X-axes instead of the data in the column that you have highlighted. Even in the scatter plot, you are able to connect data points.
  2. Place busy charts on an extra worksheet.
  3. You can perform quite sophisticated data analysis within Excel. In the Tools menu you find the option Data Analysis... which allows you to calculate correlations, perform t-tests, plot histograms, etc. If this option does not appear, you need to go to the Tools menu, option Add-Ins and check the Analysis ToolPak and hit ok. This will then install the tools package.
  4. Data files that you download from the web are often not in Excel format, but are consiting of comma separated values (.csv) or tab separated values (.tsv). When you open those files, Excel will help you to convert the files. However, in case you have manipulated the file, for example by making graphs or adding formulas, make sure that you save the file as Workbook and not in the original format, because you will loose everything in that file that goes beyond the simple numbers.
  5. If a formula yield several numbers as result they are called Array formulas (apple shift enter). The easiest way to use them is probably through the function wizard. You'll need to highlight the cells in which the formula output should appear. To activate the formula you need to type Apple key-Shift-Enter, all at the same time.
  6. It is possible to have two Y axes with differnt scales, but only one X-axes.
  7. If you want to add data to a chart that is already created, highlight the column of data to be added and copy the column into the chart.

Tasks you should be able to perform

For this class you should be able to do the performing the following essential tasks. If you don't, open up the Office Assistant and type in the keywords below and go through the appropriate help file. The links will get you to basic help files that we have made up that refer to typical aspects of the class. You should know how to:

  1. open and save files,
  2. enter data,
  3. select cells,
  4. move, cut, copy, and paste contents of cells,
  5. copy a formula to a range of adjacent cells,
  6. choose commands from the menu bar,
  7. transfer files from the WWW into Excel,
  8. enter formulas,
  9. use functions,
  10. use toolbar buttons,
  11. create and edit different types of charts,
  12. add a trendline to data on charts.