Creating a Spreadsheet in MS Office Web Apps

November 4, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Along with Microsoft Word, you can create new Excel spreadsheets in your browser with Microsoft Office Web Apps. On the face of it, this is a pretty much identical process to creating a similar document in your Microsoft Office suite, but there are some key differences.

As you might be aware from our previous summary of Microsoft Office Web Apps the web based suite requires users to sign in via their Windows Live or Hotmail account. Documents are saved to the Skydrive, Microsoft’s free cloud storage, and they can be printed, shared or accessed from any other PC or suitable mobile app anywhere in the world.

To get started with Microsoft Excel online, point your browser at office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps and click on the Get started free link.

Entering Data in Microsoft Excel Online

The first step is to give the document a name – you will note that the format will be saved as the .XLSX format of Word 2007 and later – and this should be something descriptive. Click Save to proceed and open the document. You’ll have three tabs – File, Home and Insert – and these each feature all of the tools that most users will regularly use.

Entering data in Microsoft Excel online in your browser is just the same as entering it on the desktop version, and all of the same commonly used shortcuts are available. For instance if you want to enter a sequence of numbers 1-10, you need only enter 1 and 2 in subsequent cells, highlight both cells, and then hover the mouse pointer over the lower left corner to display the + symbol before left clicking and dragging the box down or across to have Excel auto-complete the sequence. Similarly formatting can be copied using the same method.

Where’s the Save Button in Excel Office Web Apps?

If you’re a regular Excel user, you will understand the importance of the Save button – yet Excel Web Apps doesn’t have one!

The reason for this is quite simple, however – it doesn’t need one. Recognising the importance of your spreadsheet, Microsoft has designed their Excel online app to auto save the document to the Skydrive cloud. After all, you don’t want to lose data because of a dropped network connection, do you?

While you might normally expect to find the save button in the File menu, in Excel Web Apps you will find some alternative functions.

Using the File Menu in Microsoft Excel Online

There are various options in the File menu that will allow you to save and share your spreadsheet online and off.

Open in Excel – as you would expect, if Excel is installed on your PC you can use this option to open the online document locally.

Save As – this option will allow you to save the document with a different name, useful if you plan on making considerable changes to it.

Share – using this option you can invite friends and colleagues to view and edit the document.

Download a Copy – this will allow you to save a copy of your spreadsheet to your PC for editing or emailing.

Properties – view this to add a description and check the author name, creation date and last modified date. You will also be able to view the web address for the document.

Close – this option will let you exit the spreadsheet, and take you back to the main Office Web Apps page.

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