Working with tabs in Excel

Excel has continuously evolved with each new version since the 90s. With each new version, new functions have been added. Since 2007, Excel uses so-called tabs (ribbons) that thematically organize the numerous commands. The term ribbon summarizes all tabs.

  1. One of the most important tabs is Start, where elementary formatting commands are located. The commands themselves are grouped together within a group. As can be seen in the screen shot below, the Alignment group contains commands such as Wrap Text, Join and Center, or Align Right.

2. If we let the mouse pointer rest over a button for a short time without clicking, tooltips will appear – describing the corresponding command a bit.

The commands within a tab are executed by clicking with the mouse. Basically, the following always happens: Either the commands start directly, a menu opens or a dialog box appears. Example: If we select a cell with text and press the Align Right button, the text will be right-aligned.

3. Some groups have a small square icon further down. This icon means “more commands” for this group in which it is located. Clicking on the square icon opens a suitable dialog window – depending on which tab and group the square icon is in. In our example, we open the square icon of the Font group in the Home tab by clicking on it.

The dialog box is called a dialog box because it is waiting for input from us as the user. Excel asks more or less politely what exactly is to be done.

4. The “Format Cells” dialog box appears. Here we can set the font, font style and font size, which is not very spectacular, because these elements can also be edited directly in the Start tab. However, the dialog box has additional tabs such as Numbers, Alignment, etc. that allow us to make very specific settings. The following example will show this:

Formatting example: Subscript

We want to represent a hypothesis in our Excel spreadsheet. A hypothesis can look like this:

H1: the earth is round.

Usually the one at H1 is subscripted. Correctly formatted, the hypothesis looks like this:

H1: the earth is round.

1. We write our example hypothesis H1: the earth is round into a cell.

2. Then we select the one (and only the one) and click on the square icon in the Start tab in the Font group.

3. The Format Cells dialog box opens. Next, we set a check mark in the Effect area for Subscript and confirm our entry by clicking OK.

4. Done: The marked one is now subscripted.