Can you do a 12 year old’s Excel homework?

One of our trainers came into the office the other day with an Excel crossword. The crossword had been set for his 12 year old daughter for homework.

He thought it was hard (although he’s still expecting that he’ll get 100% for his daughter’s homework). You can see how you get on with it.

You can print this page or click on the spreadsheet to download it. The spreadsheet is clever enough to check your answers as you go.

If you check out the clues and hints below the crossword will help you with a few of Excel’s handiest keyboard shortcuts, so there’s nothing trivial about the exercise. Plus those 12 year olds will grow up and might be after your job in a few years’ time, so you might want to make sure you can cut it with them!

Excel homework


The teacher’s across clues

6. How a cell appears

Our hint

We struggled to get out of the starting blocks with this one, so we’ve got a hint for you. If you like keyboard shortcuts, when you’ve got Excel open, press “Ctrl” followed by “1” (at the same time) to see what this one is all about.
7. Formatting to look like money

Our hint

“Ctrl” “shift” “4” (all at the same time) is the keyboard shortcut for this one. Try applying that shortcut to a number in your Excel spreadsheet. Also you might want to try “Ctrl” “Shift” “5” to format as a % or “Ctrl” “Shift” “1” to apply general formatting.
8. These come after the ‘dot’ in numbers

Our hint

Two words required here! We’ve slotted in a ‘hyphen’ to make it clear that it’s two words and where they break – 12 year olds don’t get that help!

If you’re still wondering, when you’ve got Excel open find a cell that’s already got a number in it. press “Alt” (and take your fingers off the keyboard). Then, press “H” for the home tab (and take your finger off again). Then press the number zero “0”. That might give you a clue as to what this one’s all about!

10. Starts with an equals sign (calculates).

Our hint

See also clue 14.
12. Numbered in Excel (down the side)
13. A box in a spreadsheet
14. Special kind of calculation, using a keyword

Our hint

Plenty of potential for confusion between clues 10 and 14 because people use both of these words interchangeably. They both start with an “F”! Theoretically =A1+A2+A3 is an example of your answer for clue 10. =Sum(A1:A3) is an example of your answer for clue 14. Try both of the “F” words and one will fit in one place and one in the other!

We’ve got another favourite shortcut on this one. Populate cells A1:A3 putting the value “1” in each. Then select cells A1:A4 and try pressing “Alt” and “=” all at the same time. You should (very quickly) get the formula =Sum(A1:A3) appearing in cell A4. “Alt” “=” is Excel’s autosum shortcut.

The teacher’s down clues

1. A person who stands in front of a class!
2. Whole number

Our hint

This one’s kind of more ‘maths’ than Excel. It’s mathematicians’ name for a whole number without a decimal point.
3. Excel is an example of this kind of program

Our hint

We barked up the wrong tree with this one for a while with “application” (that’s not the answer!). Other examples are Google Sheets, Lotus 1-2-3 (if you’re old enough to remember that) and OpenOffice Calc. It’s what Excel is: it’s a big page with lots of cells in it like maths paper. Still struggling? The answer starts with an “S”.
4. Makes sure entries are of the right kind

Our hint

This one was tough! This little piece of functionality forces Excel users to enter data from a limited range of values. If you’re still unsure (it took us a while) see our material on Excel formulas and scroll to no. 13 on the list.
5. To make a box stand out, use a colour XXXX

Our hint

One at a time, “Alt” then (after you’ve taken your finger off the key board) an “H” and then another “H” might be a good clue here.

Here’s another way of looking at this one. You do a lot of this in Excel from left to right – the shortcut is “Ctrl” “R” (selecting the cells you want to copy across to and pressing the keys all at the same time). Also you do a lot of this when copying formulas down a page (“Ctrl” “D”). If you’re still not there have a look at our copy/ paste shortcuts – the answer’s in there towards the bottom.

9. A neat edge to a box to show up in printing

Our hint

One at a time, on your keyboard press “Alt”. Then press “H”. Then press “B”. All at the same time, click on a cell and try “Ctrl” “Shift” “7” for an outline. “Ctrl” “Shift” “-” / minus to remove the outline. Got this one now?
11. Named with letter in Excel (across the top)
If you’re curious as to how we’ve got our spreadsheet producing colours when you type in the correct answer, we’ve done it with Excel’s conditional formatting. The answers and workings are on hidden tabs. Right mouse click on top of the first tab that you see there to unhide the extra tabs. But if it’s all getting too much, you can also get a copy of the completed version here: Excel homework.

Read more stories

You’re reading stories from the world of financial modelling. It’s a world where modellers, and their daughters, are ready for battle. And it’s Excel that always stays their weapon of choice.

Read more stories