Microsoft Excel, an essential standard part of the Microsoft Office suite, is a versatile spreadsheet program oriented toward business and productivity applications. It's most basic function is to organize information in structured lists such as databases, reports, timelines, series of calculations and graphic charts. In addition it can be used as a standalone solution, or integrated with other technical applications such as Visual Studio and SharePoint.
Fundamentally, an Excel data file starts as a basic structured sheet consisting of cells rearranged in a two dimensional structure. Its columns are labeled in letters A, B, C,....Z, AA, AB, etc. and rows labeled in number 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. The extent of its lettered and numbered labeling depends on the capacity of the computer in which it is installed.
In each cell information is entered by typing directly into a cell, or typing in a text bar on top of the structured cells and the information appears in the selected cell. Especially useful is the capacity to calculate the results of an arithmetic expression if preceded by a symbol such as an = sign. For example, if =2+5 is typed, the result is the number 7. Excel also contains built in arithmetic functions such as square root, sine, cosine and tangent to name a few.
Also useful is relative addressing of a cell or a group of cells. This is a method of reserving a cell or cells as variables in formulas. This is the basis of an organized list of calculations that can be used in reports that contain graphic charts and timelines based on those calculations. This series of data can be arranged further for statistical applications such as sum totals, averages and standard deviations.
Excel also has the capability of helping to automate the task of spreadsheet creation with Macro commands. A macro is a set of instructions that when triggered performs a certain function in the Excel spreadsheet. A macro can be created in two ways- using the Record Macro command, perform some set of functions manually once, issue the Stop Macro command and view the resulting set of commands that when issued automates that process that was recorded. Alternatively, directly enter the macro instructions with a coding language called VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), save in a file name and when that file call is issued, automates those instructions.
An Excel sheet also contains the capability and versatility to become a structured data table, a structure in which the first row contains the names of the data--field names, and the ensuing rows contain the values.