Excel Glossary

Not sure about the various jargon relating to the world of Microsoft Excel?  Use this Excel Glossary to help you out.

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General/popular terms

This section includes the most popular and general terms within Microsoft Excel.


The official term for an Excel file.

Sheet / worksheet

A single spreadsheet within an Excel workbook.  You can have essentially infinite number of sheets in a workbook.

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A specific location within a sheet.  Cells are marked by their column (letters) and row (numbers), eg: A1, D5, AB23 etc.


Any type of calculation that is entered into a cell.  Formulas can contain references to other cells, Excel functions, and fixed values or text in them.  Formulas must start with a ‘=’ symbol.


A preset calculation which is built into the Excel program, and can be used in formulas.  Common examples are SUM(), COUNT(), AVERAGE() etc.

Formula bar

The bar above the Excel worksheet that allows you to enter a formula or a value into the currently selected cell.  Displays the formula or contents of the currently selected cell.

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The menu at the top of the screen.

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A specific calculation that is entered as part of a formula.  Common examples of functions include SUM(), COUNT(), AVERAGE() and IF().

Range / data range

The general term for two or more cells on a sheet.

Fill handle

The small, black square on the bottom-right corner of the selected cells.

Page break

A divider that separates portions of a sheet when the workbook is printed.

Objects within Excel

This section refers to specific objects that you can create and interact with inside Excel.


A graph that displays data within Excel.  Can be placed within a Sheet (ie: an embedded Chart), or can be placed within its own sheet by itself (ie: a chart sheet). <image>


A data range which contains related data.  A Table is organised by Excel and has a distinctive name so its contents can be called on anywhere in the Excel workbook.

Not sure how to use Excel Tables?  Read about their benefits here.


A dynamic report that groups and summarises Excel data, which can be used for in-depth data analysis.

Never used PivotTables before?  Get the 7 Minute PivotTable Tutorial here.


An interactive Chart that allows you to visualise data from a PivotTable.  You can easily change data series and change the presentation of the PivotChart.


A sequence of instructions or inputs that copy a sequence of actions you can complete with the keyboard or mouse.  Macros can be activated with a single click or keyboard shortcut.

Can’t see the Macro options within Microsoft Excel?  You may need to enable the Developer tab in Microsoft Excel.

Formula-related terms

These terms are specifically related to formulas within Microsoft Excel.

Relative reference

A standard cell reference that isn’t made fixed or absolute, eg: D5, E13.

Absolute reference

Any reference to a cell which will not change when the formula is copied to other cells.

Absolute references are created by putting a “$” sign in front of the row and/or column value (eg: $B$4 will always refer to B4, C$13 will always refer to row 13 but will refer to other columns when copied across into cells in other columns).

When editing a formula, press the F4 key to cycle through the combinations of absolute references.


Sections of a function which are required for the formula to work.

eg: the IF() function requires three arguments: the condition (logical_test), the result if the condition is true, and the result if the condition is false.