Microsoft Excel is a hugely popular piece of software that comes bundled with Microsoft Office. However, while it may be hugely popular, it can also be extremely confusing to use - especially when you start using the advanced features. Here, we show you how to use some of the basic Excel features including cell merging, formatting, deleting and adding cells and even cell locking. See also: How to use Excel

How to add and delete cells in Excel

Before we go any further, it’s probably a good idea to establish just how you can add and delete cells within Microsoft Excel, a fundamental part of using the software. Don’t worry though, as it’s fairly easy to do:

1) Select the cell(s) where you want to insert a new cell.
2) On the Home tab, click the arrow next to ‘Insert’ and select ‘Insert Cells’.
3) In the ‘Insert’ pop-up window, click the direction in which you want to move the surrounding cells.
4) Your cell should then be inserted wherever you originally selected, moving the existing cells around it.

To reverse the action and delete cells within Excel, users must follow a similar process:

1) Select the cell(s) that you want to remove from your Excel spreadsheet.
2) On the Home tab, just below/beside the ‘Insert’ button is a ‘Delete’ button – click the arrow next to it, and click ‘Delete Cells’ (you can also use this to delete rows and columns too).
3) The next step is to decide the direction that you want existing cells to be shifted once the deletion has taken place. This is done within the Delete pop-up window, simply select Shift cells left, Shift cells up, Entire row or Entire column depending on your choice.
4) There you have it! Your selected cells should then be deleted.

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How to lock cells in Excel

When other people (or even you!) work in your spreadsheet, there’s always a risk that formulas or cell formatting may be accidentally wiped out. While it’s frustrating, there is a way around it – locking the cell. Locking a cell keeps formatting, formulae and even text safe by not allowing any changes to be made until its unlocked. It’s not just limited to a single cell, either – you can lock ranges, too.

1) If the spreadsheet is protected, head to the Review tab and select ‘Unprotect sheet’.
2) Select the whole spreadsheet by pressing the Select All button in the top left hand corner of the spreadsheet, or by pressing CTRL + A (CMD + A for Mac users).
3) The next step is to open the Format Cell Font pop-up window, which can be accessed by pressing CTRL+1 (CMD+1 on Mac). Select the Protection tab, clear the Locked check box and click OK.
4) In the spreadsheet, select the cell(s) that you want to lock and re-open the Format Cell pop-up window by following Step 3. 5) This time, open the Protection tab, select the Locked check box and click OK.
6) On the Review tab within Excel, click ‘Protect Sheet’. Now select the elements of your spreadsheet that you want others to be able to change.
7) Add a password in the ‘Password to unprotect sheet’ field, click OK then retype the password to confirm it.

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How to format cells in Excel

When formatting cells within Excel, you’re essentially changing the appearance of a number without physically changing the number itself – it means that, for example, users can type 0.8 and that would be automatically converted to £0.80, or if you wanted dates in a certain format (MM/DD/YYYY for example), it’d automatically adjust the format to your preference. Though it may not seem like much, formatting cells can save users a lot of time inputting numbers and dates, and is a handy feature to use within the spreadsheet software.

1) Select the cell you want to format, then right click it and select ‘Format cells…’ or press CTRL + 1 to bring up the Format Cell window.
2) If, for arguments sake, you want to use the cell to display currency, select the currency tab and input the symbol you want to use. The ‘Sample’ window is a preview of what the formatted cell will look like with your adjustments applied.
3) There’s also options to format the alignment, font, border and fill of the cell, depending on your individual needs. Simply select your required format from the Format Cells window, then click OK to apply the formatting to the cell.

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How to Merge and split cells in Excel

Last but not least, we’ll show you how you can merge and split (or unmerge as Microsoft calls it) cells within Excel. This provides users with much larger cells, and can often help when creating individual tables within Microsoft’s spreadsheet software. To merge two or more cells together:

1) Select the cells that you want to merge together.
2) On the Home tab, select ‘Merge and Center’ – this will merge all selected cells and the original contents of the cells will be centred in the newly merged cell.

Simple! Now, to split (or unmerge) the cells, follow these steps:

1) Select the merged cell that you want to split.
2) Click the arrow next to the ‘Merge and Center’ button in the toolbar, and select ‘Unmerge cells’.
3) The cells should then return to their original, unmerged state.