Before discussing a spreadsheet one should understand; What is a spreadsheet?
A spreadsheet is simply a sheet of paper on which horizontal and vertical lines are drawn to generate a rectangular grid, similar to a mathematical notebook. Each blank square or block is for writing the number or text or data as required.
An electronic spreadsheet is an electronic counterpart of the paper worksheet. The main difference is that electronic spreadsheet is far bigger than paper spreadsheets and is far more powerful, faster and versatile to use than the paper counterpart. So an electronic spreadsheet (or worksheet) is used to store information in the memory of the computer, asks the computer to calculate results, and display the information and results on the computer screen.
There are many spreadsheet packages such as Lotus, Tally, Microsoft Excel etc. The most popular program included in the MS OFFICE suite is MS Excel. It is an integrated electronic worksheet (spreadsheet) program developed by Microsoft Corporation, USA.
As you may realize, Microsoft Excel’s primary purpose is to help you create lists using readily available cells spread on a sheet that resembles a piece of paper. The group of cells that constitute a document is referred to as a sheet and those cells are spread all over it. For this reason, a document whose main purpose is to present a list as a group of cells is referred to as spreadsheet. Microsoft Excel is referred to as a spreadsheet application. A list created on a sheet is called, in Microsoft Excel, a worksheet. By default, a MS Excel workbook (when you open the Excel program) starts with three worksheets. You can add or delete the worksheets. A single worksheet can be treated as independent entities, although it is more suitable to treat it as part of a unit.
Advantages of Excel
- The worksheet can be quite big in size but any part of it can be viewed or edited.
- The worksheet is saved in an electronic file. This file can consist of many worksheets .This file can be retrieved and modified later, if required.
- Several mathematical, trigonometric, financial and statistical functions are built-in.
- The calculations are very fast and results are accurate.
- Any repetitive calculations may be done with formulas.
- Data can be sorted either in ascending or descending order very easily.
- Data entered in a worksheet can be formatted in several ways to give it a professional look.
- Data can be viewed in various forms of graphs (charts).
Applications of MS Excel
- Preparation of statistical and financial reports of business firm.
- It is used in various banking related functions.
- It is a very good tool for preparation of projections and forecasting statements.
- Can be used to keep track of daily household expenses.
- It can be used to do a comparative analysis of the budget and actual over a period of time.
- Analysis of data can be depicted in a graphical format in the form of pie-charts, histograms, etc.
- It can be used for results tabulation in schools.
Basic Concept of Worksheet
Worksheets are the most important feature of MS Excel. A worksheet consists of rows and columns. All actions and operations of MS Excel take place in the Worksheet. You can enter and edit several worksheets simultaneously and perform calculations based on data from multiple worksheets. Worksheets are the pillars to create and analyze a document in MS Excel.
Excel files are known as workbooks. A workbook is a collection of worksheets. These are the files in which you work and store your data. Workbooks are made up of worksheets or spreadsheets. By default, all new workbooks consist of three worksheets.
A Cell is the basic unit of the spreadsheet. The cell is an intersection of row and column. Each cell is referred to with a cell address for example; D4 refers to the cell at the intersection of column D and row 4. A cell can contain a value, a formula, or a text entry.
Rows are the boxes placed adjacent to each other in a horizontal manner. They are numbered from top to bottom in an ascending order. There is a maximum of 65,536 rows.
Columns are the rectangles placed on top of each other vertically. Column headings are referred to with letters. They are named starting from A,B,C,D,…..AA,AB,AC,.. and called labels. There is a maximum of 256 columns.
The Active Cell
An active cell is the selected cell, it has a dark and thick border which sets it apart from the other cells. This is important because you always need to know where the changes you are making are being applied.
Block or Range
A group of adjacent cells forming a rectangle is called a block or range. A block of cells can be marked by using the mouse (click in one cell and drag through the cells you want to include)or by holding down the shift key and using the arrow keys (click in the cell you want to start with, use arrow keys to include more adjacent cells.) Once a block is defined, you can perform many functions with that block such as moving it, copying it, or deleting it. As well as aesthetically changing the look of just that block of cells.
The name box is at the left end of the formula bar (at the top of the screen.) It identifies the selected cell. You can go to a cell directly by typing its cell address in the name box.
Each new Excel workbook contains three identical worksheets named, Sheet1, Sheet2 and Sheet3. Each worksheet is recognized by a worksheet tab at the bottom of the screen. To switch between worksheets, you click the worksheet tab you want to display and that worksheet then appears as the active worksheet. A worksheet can be renamed at any time by double-clicking the worksheet tab to select the title and then simply typing a new name.
The Status Bar
Status bar displays error messages, and status of special keys such as numeric lock and quick calculations. By right clicking status bar, formulas such as Average, Sum, Count, Max and Min are displayed. If the Status bar is turned on, it appears at the very bottom of the screen. Before proceeding, make sure the Status bar is turned on. To turn on, click on View menu (top of the screen) and select Status bar from Toolbar option.
Notice the word “Ready” on the Status bar at the lower left side of your screen. The word “Ready” tells you that it is awaiting your next command. Other indicators appear on the Status bar in the lower right corner of the screen.
More on Excel Window
- Under the toolbars there are white boxes displaying a name like A1 (it may not display A1…), that small box is called the Name Box. Position your mouse on it and observe the tool tip.
- On the right side of the Name box, there is a gray box with an = button; that = button is not the = sign, it is indeed a button and it is called the Edit Formula button. Position your mouse on it and observe the tool tip.
- On the right side of the Edit Formula button is a long empty white box or section called the Formula Bar. Position your mouse on it and observe the tool tip.
- Under the Name Box and the Formula bar, you see the columns. The columns are labeled A, B, C, etc. There are 256 of them. On the left side of the main window, there are gray boxes called rows. Each row is labeled with a number, starting at 1 on top, then 2, and so on. The main area of Microsoft Excel is made of cells. A cell is the intersection of a column and a row. On the right side of the cells area, there is a vertical scroll bar that allows you to scroll up and down in case your document cannot display everything at one time.
Click and hold the down pointing arrow of the vertical scroll bar for a few seconds, then release it to view more rows on your scroll bar.
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