Excel 365 Online is the cloud-based version of Microsoft’s spreadsheet program. It offers many tools for managing numerical data, as well as the ability to add charts, shapes, and much more. Best of all, Excel 365 Online’s interface is intuitive (particularly if you have used the desktop version), so the features you need will be easily accessible.

Topic Objectives

In this section, you will learn how to:

  • Log into Office 365 and start Excel Online
  • Identify the components of the Excel Online interface
  • Create a new workbook
  • Close Excel Online

Logging into Office 365

Your first step before using Excel Online is to log into Office 365 with your Microsoft account. To start, open your Internet browser and navigate to the login page at https://login.microsoftonline.com:

Excel 365 Online 1

Instructor Tip: If you do not have a Microsoft account, you can create one from this page.

Then, enter your Microsoft account name and click “Next:”

Excel 365 Online

If prompted, choose the sub-account to sign in with:

Excel 365 Online

Finally, enter your password and click “Sign in:”

Excel 365 Online

Now, you will see your Office 365 landing page:

Excel 365 Online

Launching Excel Online

To start Excel Online, click the icon on the Office 365 landing page:

Excel 365 Online

Instructor Tip: You can also click the app launcher in the top left corner and click the Excel icon from the menu.

Excel Online will then open in a new tab:

Excel 365 Online

Once you choose a workbook to create or open, you will see the Excel interface:

Excel 365 Online

The Excel Online Interface

Excel Online looks and operates in much the same way as its desktop counterpart, Excel 2016:

Excel 365 Online

Let’s go over the basics of each element.

1: Navigation Commands

The top left part of the screen contains the app launcher (where you can access other Office 365 apps), the name of the app (Excel Online), and a breadcrumb trail (with clickable links to other parts of your Office 365 profile).

2: Title Bar

The name of the currently open file is displayed here.

3: Sharing Commands

Click this icon to share the current workbook. You can also view your Office 365 profile name here.

4: Tabs

Groups of like commands are organized under tab names. Click a tab to view the commands in the ribbon.

5: Ribbon Interface

Displays tab commands organized into groups. If you click the different tabs, you will see the commands change. Notice, too, that some of the commands might be grayed out. This is because those commands are only usable in certain situations.

Instructor Tip: Icons may also be compressed or collapsed into menus depending on the user’s screen size.

Like the desktop version of Excel, Excel Online also features contextual tabs. These are special tabs that only appear when you are working with a specific object or group of information. For example, if you were to insert and select a shape, you would see a contextual tab offering commands for that object:

Excel 365 Online

Once you switch to working with something else, this tab disappears.

6: Formula Bar

The Formula Bar allows you to enter data in a cell.

7: Working Area

The data in the current file will be shown here.

8: Worksheet Commands

Every Excel file is properly referred to as a workbook, which can contain one or more worksheets. Click the tabs to switch between worksheets.

9: Status Bar

This bar displays running calculations and other information about the workbook.

Creating a New Workbook

When you open Excel Online, you will have the following options: (1) start a New workbook, (2) Excel will recommend a file, or (3) open saved files you have recently used, pinned, or were shared with you.

Excel 365 Online


For this example, let’s create a new, blank workbook by clicking the related thumbnail:

Excel 365 Online


The workbook will be created and saved to either your personal OneDrive account or SharePoint space:

Excel 365 Online


Note that this file will use “Book” as the default name. (A number may be added to the end if a workbook with the same name already exists in the save location.) To change its name, click the current name on the title bar, type the new name, and press “Enter:”

Excel 365 Online


Now, you can add your data just as you would in the desktop version of Excel:

Excel 365 Online


As you continue to work on your file, it will automatically be saved. To create a new workbook, click the File tab:


Then, click the New category and click the thumbnail for the workbook you want to create:

Excel 365 Online

The new workbook will now be created and displayed in the current browser tab.


Closing Excel Online

Remember that Excel Online is constantly saving your workbook, so you do not have to worry about losing data when closing Excel Online, and you do not have to manually save it either. So, once you have finished your work, close the browser tab (or browser) in which Excel Online is open.

This is an excerpt from Velsoft’s latest computer course Microsoft Excel 365: Part 1.