Microsoft Excel offers extremely powerful numerical and statistical data manipulation. However, such a powerful program can seem a little intimidating when all you need are some simple statistical results.

If you are new to Excel, why not take time out to fully explore your Excel window? If you are familiar with Microsoft Word, you will be pleasantly surprised by the similar 'look and feel'.

You will also recognise the menu bar, formatting toolbar and the help box environment. Slightly less familiar features will include column headings, row headings, cell ranges and worksheet selection tabs. These helpful additions provide much of the back bone to Excel's success.

Each Excel workbook is divided into worksheets. By default there are three sheets, with sheet one initially active. These sheets can be selected by clicking on the name of the sheet located at the bottom of the booklet.

Each sheet consists of many rows horizontally and columns vertically. Columns are named as alphabetical headings, while rows are numerical. Each row or column consists of a range of cells where data is stored and/or manipulated.

Once you are happy with the Excel layout, we can then delve into the features most useful to the novice user:

1) Basic Formatting

Rows and rows of data can be pretty bland if nothing really stands out. The presentation of data can be as important as the results themselves. An inventory report submitted to a new customer or potential client may only be reviewed initially for a matter of seconds. With a little thought, basic formatting can be used to highlight important areas and automate simple tasks.

If you are familiar with other Microsoft Office programs, you will have seen the formatting toolbar usually found at the top of the application's screen. You can use this to select a cell range and apply whatever formatting you like.

Simple formatting allows the alteration of cell content. This includes applying different styles and sizes to data. You can also apply default Excel styles such as adding pound (