Setting It Up
Part 1
A WebTask for Adult Learners

Ask for help getting started. Continue to ask for help when you need it! 

 In this task, you will complete the following objectives:
  • Open Excel and save a file
  • Apply common tools, enter text and change items in  cells, columns and rows
  • Enter common budget items with dollar amounts, following a model.
  • Complete a reading challenge.
  • Create your own simple budget with dollar amounts for each item.

You will evaluate yourself (compete rubrics) at the end. Click on the arrow to read the rubric (evaluation) items at the end. 
(To come back here, click the BACK button on your browser.)

  Opening Excel   

To open your own Excel program, go to your START button, usually at the bottom left of your screen. Click on All Programs, and then on the Microsoft Excel Image.

Once your program opens, save the file immediately as "yourintitialsbudget1." For example, my name is Leecy Wise, so I would save my file as "lwbudget1." ASK your instructor about how and where to save your file.

After you have saved your spreadsheet, follow the instructions below. To move back and forth between this Task and your Excel program, use the ALT + TAB keys on your keyboard. You can also click back and forth using the choices on the lower bar, at the bottom of your screen.

Screen Layout

There are three toolbars at the top of your Excel screen.   These toolbars will be used for shortcuts in many of our activities. [If you don't see one of the toolbars on your sheet, go to your Top Menu Bar --  the bar with words at the top of your screen. Select (hold your left mouse button down on the word) View | Toolbars, and select the missing toolbar. They look like the images below.]

Menu bar

Click any of the words on this row to see a list of your options in that category.      
The File and Edit choices are used often for saving, opening files, copying, and pasting.

Standard toolbar

Icons (images) in this row provide shortcuts to many tasks, without going to the Menu Bar, (opening, printing, cutting, pasting). The icons also take you to many handy functions. You'll learn more about them (AutoSum, Chart Wizard, etc.).

Formatting toolbar

This row controls the format of text in cells (font, font size, style, color, borders, alignments).

Some important spreadsheet terms

Columns - the vertical (up and down) divisions in the spreadsheet are called columns. They are headed by letters to Z, and Roman Numerals. Excel 2000/XP has 256 columns beginning with A and ending with IV.

Rows - the horizontal (left and right) divisions in the spreadsheet are called rows and are headed by numbers. Excel 2000/XP has 65,536 rows.

Cells - each individual space in the spreadsheet is called a cell. A cell is named when a column letter meets a row number. Notice Cell A1 below. Each cell has an address such as A1 or G6. There are 16,777,216 cells in each Excel sheet. Cells can contain text, numbers, or both.

ACTIVITIES 1 AND 2: Click on the arrow to go to the activity page. Complete the activities. When you finish, return to this page (Use the BACK button on your browser).

  Beginning a Budget Spreadsheet   

ACTIVITY 3: Choose a title for your 2004 budget and type it in cell A1.

  Entering Data & Moving through the Spreadsheet   

Enter the following information in each cell, as shown. The words may look like they go to the next cell, but they don't. The cell just extends to show you the whole text.

  • Mortgage
  • Car Payment
  • Gas Bill
  • Electricity Bill
  • Water Bill

Be sure you begin with cell A3. To move down the A column, either use the Enter key or the down arrow key on your keyboard to go up and down. You may also use your mouse to click on the cell you want to fill. To move horizontally, use the Tab key or the right arrow key.

-->> Save your file again (FILE+Save or Control+S)

  Entering Sequential (in order) Data   


Cells B2-M2 will contain the months of the year. You could type each month, but let's use a shortcut.

Type January in cell B2. Do you see a small square in the lower right corner of cell B2? Point at this square - the white cross becomes a black plus sign.

Click and drag this small square across the row to cell M2. Release. Did January through December appear in the cells? That's because Excel recognizes common sequences to make it easy for you to use it!

-->> Save your your work.

  Experimenting with Number Sequences  

Excel recognized the word January as the beginning of a sequence. Will it also work with numbers? Try it.

Move to cell A15. Begin a vertical numerical list by placing the number 1 in cell A15. Try using the same method you used for the months to create a numerical list of 1-10. Does it work? If not, what could you do to make it work?

Answer: No. That was a dirty trick! In this case, you must first show a sequence! Follow the steps:

(1) Enter 1 in A15 and 2 in A16. (2) Highlight both cells and drag your cursor from one cell to another (Do not drag from the small square at the bottom right!]. OR  Click one cell, hold the shift key and click the next cell you want to highlight. (3) Now, click and drag on the small square in the lower right corner of cell A16. (4) Drag to A24 and release.

Did it work? Sure it did. Congratulations!

-->> Print your Excel sheet showing the 1-10 sequence. Sign your work and place it in your folder.

  Formatting Text in Cells   


The months of the year would look better in boldface. To make the word January bold, click in cell B2, then click the letter B (Bold) on the formatting toolbar. You could use this method to make the rest of the months bold, but can you think of a more efficient method? Make the headings in cells A3 through A7 bold, too.

Answer: Highlight the remaining months and click on the letter B on the formatting toolbar.

  Changing Font Size   


To change font size, be sure the months of the year are selected. Change the font size from the default (basic setting) of 10 to 12. Can you do the same for the data in cells A3 through A7?

Answer: Highlight the cells you wish to change. Click on the Font Size dropdown and select 12.

-->> Save your work.

  Changing Column Width   

When we made the typeface (letters) bold, some of the column and row headings got too wide for their cells. There are several ways to adjust the width of cells. 

(1) Move your white cross to the line separating columns A and B. The white cross turns into a bi-directional (two-ways) horizontal arrow with a vertical divider. Double-click the line to widen the column to exact fit.

(2) Try another method. Move your white cross to the line separating columns B and C. Click and drag this line to the right to widen column B. This is a simple method.


But what if you want all of the columns to be the same width? This method would be tiring. To adjust the width of multiple columns at the same time, highlight the columns you wish to alter.  Then select Format | Column | Width. Enter a value of 14, then click OK.

-->> Save your work.

  Aligning (lining up) Text   

Each month is aligned (lined up) along the left edge of its cell. Would these column headings look better centered in the middle of the cell? 


Select row 2, by clicking on the 2 at the beginning of the row, then click on the center alignment button on the formatting toolbar (notice also the option for right alignment and the default setting of left alignment for text).

  Extending Text Across Multiple (more than one) Cells  

The title of your spreadsheet is currently in the upper left corner. Would you like to center it? You could type it in cell F1 or G1, but there is a better way.  


Highlight cells A1 though M1. Click on the Merge ( blend or join) and Center button on the formatting toolbar (just to the right of the alignment buttons). This merges the cells in row 1 and automatically places your text in the center. You might then make the title bold and change the font size to 14.


Enter the following monthly dollar information in each budget category.

  January February March
Rent 303.00 303.00 303.00
Car Payment 249.00 249.00 249.00
Gas Bill 75.00 92.00 87.00
Electricity Bill 45.00 32.00 40.00
Water Bill 20.00 20.00 28.00
Your Spreadsheet should look like the model below:

Save your spreadsheet and print a copy for your portfolio. Keep the file. You will use the spreadsheet in your next Web Task. In that task, you'll learn to use different formulas to add and divide numbers with decimals. Ask for help on how to save a file if you need it.

Unlimited Learning, Cortez, CO 2004
Permission granted to use our materials for educational purposed only, as long as credit is given to the source.