A Complete Guide to Understanding the Basics of a Cell in Ms Excel

When working with Excel, you’ll need to enter information, or content, into cells. Cells are the basic building blocks of a worksheet. You’ll need to learn the basics of cells and cell content to calculate, analyze, and organize data in Excel. Here you will  learn everything you need to know about cell in excel and cells basic contents  with screenshots.

Knowing what a Cell is in Microsoft Excel

A cell is the intersection of a row and a column. Columns are identified by letters (A, B, C), while rows are identified by numbers (1, 2, 3). Every worksheet is made up of thousands of rectangles, which are called cells. A group of cells is known as a cell range. Rather than a single cell address, you will refer to a cell range using the cell addresses of the first and last cells in the cell range, separated by a colon.

For example, a cell range that include cells A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5 would be written as A1:A5.

Consider the image below: cell range A1:A14


Cell range A1:C10


How to select a cell range in excel

Tip: The cells can be adjacent or non-adjacent

Sometimes you may want to select a larger group of cells, or a cell range.

Steps for selecting adjacent ranges

Selecting cells and ranges in excel can be done by using the following methods:

1. Click, hold, and drag the mouse until all of the adjoining cells you wish to select are highlighted.

2. Release the mouse to select the desired cell range. The cells will remain selected until you click another cell in the worksheet.

Steps for selecting non-adjacent ranges:

If you are that of a person that find it difficult on how to select non-adjacent cells in excel (all versions), do these:

1. Select the first range

2. Hold down the Ctrl key and select the other cell or range.

Cell Content

Any information you enter into a spreadsheet will be stored in a cell. Each cell can contain several kinds of content, including text, formatting, formulas, and functions.

Cells can contain text, such as letters, numbers, and dates.


Formatting Attributes of a cell

Cells can contain formatting attributes that change the way letters, numbers, and dates are displayed. For example, percentages can appear as 5.10 or 20%. You can even change a cell’s background color.


Formulas and Functions

Cells also contain formulas and functions that calculate cell values. For example, =SUM (B2:B5) adds the value of each cell in cell range B2:B5 and displays the total which is the result in cell B6.


To insert content

1. Click a cell to select it.

2. Type content into the selected cell, then press Enter on your keyboard. The content will appear in the cell and the formula bar. You can also input and edit cell content in the formula bar.

To copy and paste cell content

Excel allows you to copy content that is already entered into your spreadsheet and paste that content to other cells, which can save you time and effort.

1. Select the cell(s) you wish to copy. 

 2. Click the Copy command on the Home tab, or press Ctrl + C on your keyboard. 

3. Select the cell(s) where you wish to paste the content. The copied cells will now have a dashed box around them. 

 4. Click the Paste command on the Home tab, or press Ctrl + V on your keyboard. 

5. The content will be pasted into the selected cells.

To access more paste options

You can also access additional paste options, which are especially convenient when working with cells that contain formulas or formatting. 

To access more paste options, click the drop-down arrow on the Paste command.

TIP: Rather than choosing commands from the Ribbon, you can access commands quickly by right-clicking. Simply select the cell(s) you wish to format, then right-click the mouse. A drop-down menu will appear, where you’ll find several commands that are also located on the Ribbon.

To drag and drop cells

Rather than cutting, copying, and pasting, you can drag and drop cells to move their contents.

  • Select the cell(s) you wish to move.        
  • Hover the mouse over the border of the selected cell(s) until the cursor changes from a white cross to a black cross with four arrows.
  • Click, hold, and drag the cells to the desired location.
  • Release the mouse, and the cells will be dropped in the selected location.

To use the auto fill handle

There may be times when you need to copy the content of one cell to several other cells in your worksheet. You could copy and paste the content into each cell, but this method would be very time consuming. Instead, you can use the fill handle to quickly copy and paste content to adjacent cells in the same row or column.

  • Select the cell(s) containing the content you wish to use. The fill handle will appear as a small square in the bottom-right corner of the selected cell(s).
  • Click, hold, and drag the fill handle until all of the cells you wish to fill are selected.
  • Release the mouse to fill the selected cells.

The fill handle

To continue a series with the fill handle;

The fill handle can also be used to continue a series. Whenever the content of a row or column follows a sequential order, like numbers (1, 2, 3) or days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), the fill handle can guess what should come next in the series. In many cases, you may need to select multiple cells before using the fill handle to help Excel determine the series order. In our example below, the fill handle is used to extend a series of dates in a column.

Find and Replace

When working with a lot of data in Excel, it can be difficult and time consuming to locate specific information. You can easily search your workbook using the Find feature, which also allows you to modify content using the Replace feature.

To find content in excel

1. From the Home tab, click the Find and Select command, then select Find… from the drop-down menu.

2. The Find and Replace dialog box will appear. Enter the content you wish to find. 3. Click Find Next. If the content is found, the cell containing that content will be selected.                                                                                   

4. Click Find Next to find further instances or Find All to see every instance of the search term.

5. When you are finished, click Close to exit the Find and Replace dialog box.

I believe, with the above explanations, examples, and screenshots you now understand what is cell basics in excel.

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