What is a Workbook in Excel? - Characteristics and Options

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  • 0:23 Microsoft Excel
  • 0:50 Workbooks vs. Worksheets
  • 2:03 Multiple Workbooks
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Excel allows users to organize data, but to organize your information most effectively, you should understand the difference in workbooks and worksheets, and how to use workbooks. Watch this lesson to find out how.

Microsoft Excel

Harry is working on a report about test scores at different middle schools. He's trying to put together some data for one of his classes, and his friend suggested that he use Microsoft Excel software. Harry has heard of Excel, but he doesn't know exactly what it is or what to expect. How can it help Harry with his data?

Excel is a spreadsheet software. It allows users to create spreadsheets of data, which in turn lets them organize information. For example, Harry has a lot of data. He has the test scores of every student in the 8th grade for five different schools. That's a ton of information! By putting those test scores into an Excel workbook, Harry can use the data more easily.

To help Harry out, let's look closer at Excel, including the difference between workbooks and worksheets, and how to create and work with multiple workbooks at once.

Workbooks vs. Worksheets

Harry has a lot of information, and from what he's heard, Excel is a good place to organize that information. But he's also heard that there are workbooks and worksheets in Excel. He doesn't know the difference between the two, or which he should be using.

In Excel, a worksheet is a single spreadsheet of data. On the other hand, a workbook is an Excel file with one or more worksheets.

Think about it kind of like a 3-ring binder. A workbook would be the entire binder, with everything in it. In contrast, a worksheet would be like one section in that binder.

So, how should Harry organize his information using workbooks and worksheets? Remember that he has the test scores for every 8th grade student in five different schools. That's a lot of information!

One way that Harry might want to organize his information is to create one workbook for all the data. Within that workbook, he could have a different worksheet for each different school. That way, he can see how all the different students did based on their schools.

Multiple Workbooks

That all sounds pretty good, but Harry isn't sure. He thinks it might be better to create an entirely new workbook, or Excel file, for each school.

It isn't as easy to work with multiple workbooks as it is to work with multiple worksheets. However, it is possible to create and work with multiple workbooks at once.

To switch between different workbooks, Harry can use the ribbon, or series of menus at the top of the software. If he clicks on the ribbon menu titled 'View,' he can choose 'Switch windows' to go back and forth between different Excel workbooks.

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