What is an Excel Workbook and How to Create One (2024)

Everything in Excel starts with creating a new workbook. It’s the very first thing we do before we input, organize, or calculate data in an Excel worksheet.

You’ve probably created hundreds (if not thousands) of Excel workbooks. It’s so basic that you might think that there’s nothing left to learn about it 🤔

But there’s always something new to learn.

This article will cover what you already know and what you need to know about creating Excel workbooks. You’ll learn how to create a new blank workbook, create a new workbook from a template, and make an existing workbook as your template.

Let’s get started 😀

What is a workbook in Excel?

A workbook is an Excel file that contains one or more worksheets where you can enter and store data. Each worksheet in a workbook is composed of a large number of cells that can hold data you can organize accordingly.

Microsoft Excel allows you to create a new workbook from a blank workbook or a template.

Create a workbook in Excel

Let’s create a new blank workbook. You’ve probably done this multiple times already but let’s do a quick recall 😊

  1. Open Microsoft Excel.
Open excel to create blank workbook

An Excel window opens and asks you what you want to do.

  1. Double-click Blank Workbook.
click blank workbook option to create a workbook

It’s as simple as that!

excel worksheet of a blank workbook

You now have a new workbook 👍

You can click any of the cells in this worksheet to input data into cells. You can even add another worksheet by clicking the plus (+) button in the worksheet tab.

add excel worksheets in same workbook

Create a new workbook while still in an open workbook

If you already have a workbook open and you want to create a new blank workbook, you can do this 👇

  1. Click the File tab from the left side of the Ribbon.
File tab in an open excel spreadsheet
  1. Select New from the left sidebar.
  2. Double-click Blank Workbook.
click create a new workbook

Pro Tip!

When you already have an Excel workbook open and you want to create a new one, you can also use this Keyboard shortcut for New File. Press Ctrl + N on your keyboard.

This keyboard shortcut is also used for other programs, so it’s good to know one 😊

Create a new workbook from a template

Instead of starting with a blank workbook, you can use an Excel template to quickly create a new workbook for a particular project like planners, lists, charts, and more.

Excel has predesigned templates you can choose from. These templates are ready to use with formatting and formulas tailored to your needs.

Excel templates are already done for you which means saving a lot of time while being visually consistent and attractive 😀

To create a new workbook from a template, you can do the steps below.

  1. Go to the File tab.
new workbook
  1. Select New.
  2. Choose your template from the suggested Workbook templates below.
available templates

There are a lot of options to choose from. There are workbook templates for Business, Personal, Planners and Trackers, and more!

You can browse or search for more available templates.

For example, you want to create a new workbook to budget your finances 💸

You can create your own but you can also choose to use this Personal monthly budget Excel template.

available templates

This is what the Personal monthly budget template looks like.

workbook from a template

All you have to do is to enter your data since the template already has the layout, format, and formulas done for you. You can also do custom formatting to this template like changing the font or colors 😊

How to open an existing Excel workbook

If you already have an existing workbook and you want to open it, you can do the steps below.

  1. Go to the File tab.
new workbook
  1. Click Open.
open excel worksheet
  1. Choose the Excel workbook.
workbooks in excel

You will see recent Excel files. Select which file you want to open.

You can also search from other locations like from your OneDrive, from your PC to find your Excel files 🔍

Use an Existing workbook as a template

If you don’t like the available templates in Excel, you can always create your workbook. You can then save this file as a template that you can reuse for a new one 🎨

Here’s how to do just that.

  1. Go to File.
new file in an open excel worksheet
  1. Click Open.
choose excel workbook
  1. Right-click on the existing workbook file, then select Open a copy.
excel spreadsheet

This way, you won’t lose the existing workbook and you can use its custom formatting and formulas as a template for your next Excel project 👍

Difference between workbook and worksheet

When working in Microsoft Excel, you may come across the terms workbook and worksheet (here’s a deep-dive on the difference between the two). It’s important to know these terms are related but not identical.

A workbook is a file that contains multiple worksheets. It contains one or more worksheets that consist of related information to each other.

A worksheet is a single page of a workbook that consists of billions of cells. These cells are organized into rows and columns where you can enter, store, and organize data.

That’s it – Now what?

As said, everything in Excel starts with creating a new workbook. You probably know some of the methods above already. Still, nice work on learning new things 👍

The next time you’re starting an Excel project, think about how you can most efficiently start one. You can make use of the available templates in Excel too.

Excel has so much to offer to make your work more efficient. But when you’re new to Excel, it’s important to learn Excel in the right order. So let’s start with the basics!

Join my free online email course and you get to learn the basics of Excel like what is a formula and how to write one. You will also learn about Excel’s most basic functions like the SUM, the AVERAGE, and the COUNT functions 😀

Get started with Excel here!

Other resources

Looking for more Excel templates? Click here to read about the 7 Best Excel Templates for Any Need! You can also download these templates for free!

New to Excel? No need to worry. Here’s a Beginner’s Guide for Anyone to Getting Started in Excel. From creating a new Excel file to using Excel formulas, everything you need to know is here.

I hope this helps 😊

Frequently asked questions

The XLSX and XLS file extensions are used for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, part of the Microsoft Office Suite of software.

The XLS is the file format of earlier versions (97-2003) of Microsoft Excel, while the XLSX is the Microsoft Office Excel file format.

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that enables users to enter, organize and calculate data. When you open Excel, you are opening a workbook.