Microsoft Excel is often used in accounting. Excel provides you with the tools you need to perform basic and advanced calculations. You can keep ledgers, manage finances, import and export data from other applications, and create charts to summarize accounts. Templates and functions are available to help make the accounting process easier.

Excel Basics

Learn Excel basics before adding templates or calculations. Data are stored in rows and columns, with each piece of data being stored in a cell. When you refer to a specific cell, use a cell reference in the form of the column letter and row number, such as A5. Format your spreadsheet and text by using the “Format” menu and “Formatting” toolbar.Create pivot charts and tables to summarize data. Graphs and charts can also be created. Go to “Data” and select “PivotTable and PivotChart Report” to create pivot charts and tables. Follow the wizard to set up your chart. Drag and drop fields into the blank chart. Right-click a field to change calculation and summary options. Create graphs and charts by going to “Insert” and selecting “Chart.” Follow the chart wizard steps to create a chart.

Basic Calculations

Perform basic calculations such as average, sum, minimum, maximum and count on rows and columns of data. Place your cursor in an empty cell. Press the drop-down arrow beside the auto sum button on the standard toolbar. The button looks like a Greek E. Select your calculation. Highlight the cells you wish to include in the calculation. The result appears in the empty cell.


Use templates from Microsoft for most accounting functions. Access templates one of two ways. First, go to “Help” and select “Microsoft Excel Help.” Type “accounting templates” into the search box or the type of template you wish to view, such as ledger or invoice. Press “Enter” to view results. Click on any template to view a sample and download.Templates provide you with a base setup which you can change as you see fit. Using templates saves you time from setting up a spreadsheet from scratch. View all available templates from Microsoft by going to the website listed in the Resources section. Additional templates may also be available from various non-Microsoft affiliated Excel websites.

Financial Functions

Use financial functions instead of basic calculations when using Excel for accounting. Click an empty cell for the function to be placed in. If you already know your function, type “=” to begin the function and type your function along with arguments next.If you don’t know your function, press the “Insert Function” button under the standard toolbar. The button looks like “fx.” Select “Financial” from the drop-down menu. Click a function to view information about it. Press “OK” for a function template, or press “Help on this function” for a detailed description of how to use the function.