chart close up data desk

Spreadsheets are a powerful tool for personal and business financing, but can be used for other purposes such a mail merging labels for Christmas cards or for mail drops.


The Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet gets it’s name from a paper process of recording in ledger books. A sheet that is spread out could record in multiple columns how much has been spent or received and where the money went or came from in an easy to read format.

Each entry was recorded in chronological order from top to bottom in rows, with columns depicting each break down.

The electronic spreadsheet uses the same principle. Rows run left-right across the screen and are numbered sequentially, and columns run up-down on the screen and are lettered sequentially. The square where a row and column meet is called a cell.

chess board


In the game of Chess, the board is labelled from White (the Queen’s) perspective. If the player playing Black says: Pawn to G5, you can count to the location and see where the pawn is located.

Spreadsheets use a Black (King’s) perspective, which means that it is always top down.


As far as Spreadsheets are concerned, everything that is a number is treated as a number. You can modify this behaviour by starting a cell entry with an apostrophe that tells the spreadsheet program that you have entered text. Dates are handled as text, although the software may handle them externally as a date.


If you want to perform a calculation on a cell, you need to use a formula. In order to enter a formula, start with an equals sign like =. There are inbuilt functions in most spreadsheet programs that make working with spreadsheets easier.

Common Functions

Functions automate spreadsheets, they make it possible to automatically calculate the sum of a column. If figures change in the selected column range, the results automatically change too.

Useful Functions

Extract the first and last name from a full name field without modifying the field. Excel has a feature of turning text into columns, but that modifies the field by splitting it. It is also a manual process.


Checksum – A checksum shows up errors in columns.


The concept of the spreadsheet has improved how people have handled numbers around the world, and simplified ways people can find and correct mistakes. There are lots of areas that spreadsheets can be used. A combination of cells can be selected and used to create charts for instance.

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