Saturday, September 24, 2011

What is Excel? And why would I use a spreadsheet?

Most of us understand that word processing software makes it much easier to create documents such as letters, forms, invitations, greeting cards and anything that contains text. Well – Excel does the same thing for us – making it easier to work lists, figures, numbers for list management, budget, statistics, data – anytime any type of calculation needs to be done. Although Excel spreadsheets/worksheets used to be used primarily for accounting and other analytical information where calculations needed to be made easily; but many of us find them a wonderful resource for list and other data management.

Like so many software application programs, Excel opens with a blank document – but in Excel that blank document is a blank worksheet, which is actually a grid of rows and columns.

In Excel, the rows of you spreadsheet/worksheet are serially numbered 1,2,3 .... and the columns are serially lettered A,B,C..... This numbering enables each space or cell to have its unique address; thus D15 represents the cell in the 4th column and the 15th row.

In Excel, using the ‘=’ sign, simple mathematical equations or formula can be used and sums, differences, products etc. calculated. Thus typing say, ‘=23+56’ in any cell will give the result of 79. The same work can be done by typing in the numbers 23 in cell A1, 56 in A2 and ‘=A1+A2’ in cell A3 and in fact what you have done is create a “formula”

Using a formula with cell references allows us to change the value in either cell A1 or A2 to get the revised result. This has significant advantages when using a complex formula or the same formula across multiple cells. The more recent your version of Excel, the easier it is to create and/or use formulas included in the software command list.

So many of the basic commands that we use all the time in Word Processing whether you use Microsoft Word Pad, Word or Word Perfect, such as Open, Save, Copy, Paste, Find, Replace Undo, Redo, Center, Left, Right etc.. are also available and work the same in Excel, Excel also offers a variety of basic commands that are designed to work with spreadsheets – whether you are managing a list of data or one with numbers and some of those are Paste Special, Filter, Sort, Wrap Text, Autofill, and Freeze panes.

And with the newer versions - Excel 2003, 2007 and 2010 - each new version adds more and more "templates" so that we don't have to recreate the wheel - so whether you are creating a budget for the holidays, a special event, your vacation or next years income & expenses - or various lists for managing data - there are hundreds of templates to choose from with the formulas already built in...

So whether you are trying to create a basic budget or want a way to quickly and easily maintain you all of your contact lists in one document – Excel is the answer.. So give it a try... it's easier than you think and can be used for so many things..

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