Introduction

Whenever you work with Excel, you'll 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.

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Understanding cells

Every worksheet is made up of thousands of rectangles, which are called cells. 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).


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A cell

Each cell has its own name—or cell address—based on its column and row. In this example, the selected cell intersects column C and row 5, so the cell address is C5. The cell address will also appear in the Name box. Note that a cell's column and row headings are highlighted when the cell is selected.


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Cell C5

You can also select multiple cells at the same time. 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 included cells A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5 would be written as A1:A5.

In the images below, two different cell ranges are selected:

Cell range A1:A8
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Cell range A1:A8
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Cell range A1:B8

If the columns in your spreadsheet are labeled with numbers instead of letters, you'll need to change the default reference style for Excel. Review our Extra on What are Reference Styles? to learn how.

To select a cell:

To input or edit cell content, you'll first need to select the cell.

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Click a cell to select it.A border
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will appear around the selected cell, and the column heading and row heading will be highlighted. The cell will remain selected until you click another cell in the worksheet.