Getting Comfortable With The Basics

Introduction to Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets have many uses in the organization and maintenance of information. In addition, we use them extensively to collect and store information for future analysis or research. They can be as simple as tracking household expenses or as complex as finding the correlation of many independent variables. While it is unlikely that most of our Senior Tech Group members will ever need 95 percent of the spreadsheet programs’ features available to us, that other five percent is beneficial.

The basic concept of spreadsheets is that information is placed into Cells, each with a unique address. Think of the spreadsheet as a matrix of many boxes (the cells). On the left side of the matrix, descending the sheet, each horizontal row is identified by a number, beginning at one and continuing down the matrix. The vertical  columbs on the matrix, intersecting with the horizontal lines, form the cells. The columns are alphabetically identified from left to, beginning with A and continuing. If the number of lines exceeds Z (26 lines), it starts again, with AA to AZ, BA to BZ, etc. So the first cell on the top left of the matrix is called A1. The next one to the right is B1. Going down from the first box, the next one below is A2, and the one below is A3.

The cells generally contain data or labels for the data that they have. For example, a cell may have your cost of electricity for the month. It would probably be on the same line as the month’s name, perhaps in the next cell to the right.

The cells may also contain formulas or equations, allowing you to perform calculations on the data in other cells. The simplest is summing all values in a vertical column or cells on a horizontal row.

Spreadsheet Demo

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