Microsoft Excel

What is it?

Microsoft Excel is an application that allows you to organise, format and calculate data with formulas within a spreadsheet system.

Microsoft Excel will allow you to:

  • Input and store data that can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Analyse your data; using filters to focus on smaller sections of large data sets and determining statistics.
  • Perform accounting and budgeting tasks using the software’s wide range of formulas and functions.
  • Report on your data and visualise the results, making the identification of trends and patterns an easier task.
  • Collaborate with others working on the same spreadsheets.

Excel is accessible as a desktop application and as an online version via Functionality differs slightly between the two so its worth trying both options.


The help available within each application should be the first place to visit for ‘how to’ questions. The help function can be accessed by pressing the F1 key or going to the ‘Help’ menu on the top ribbon in most Microsoft 365 (M365) applications.

For further help with Excel, please visit the Microsoft 365 Help and Support site. Here you will find:

Excel is self-supported, meaning that IT Services do not have any special knowledge of this application. However, if you are unable to resolve your query or if you appear to have a technical issue, you can contact the IT Support Centre.  

Instructions for staff and postgraduate research students on how to install M365 are available here:

Learning about Excel

Microsoft provide a number of written resources, with supporting videos which tell you more about Excel:

Information handling

Information classified as Very Sensitive must not be processed or stored on M365 and advice must be sought from the Information Governance Office if you handle this type of information.

If you are processing/storing information or data classified as Highly Restricted in M365, follow the information handling minimum controls set out in the Information security classification examples and handling guidance for confidential information.

Continue to adhere to the Information Governance Office Best practice guidance on sharing and storing information and Records Retention Schedule whenever you’re working with data.

Need help on information handling? Contact your Information Governance Guardian.


Global limitations:

A list of the limitations and specifications of Microsoft Excel can be found at Excel specifications and limits.

University of Manchester limitations:

The self-service addition of apps and add-ins for Microsoft 365 Office and associated products is still under review by the IT Service Security Working Group as to how they can be risk assessed and supported. This process should be completed in the near future at which time information will be updated and communications will be sent out to staff.