A beginner’s guide to spreadsheets

A beginner’s guide to spreadsheets

The very word spreadsheet can conjure up all manner of nightmares, even to those who think they are computer savvy. In this article, we take a look at them from a beginner’s perspective.

Let’s start at the beginning

So what is a spreadsheet? It’s a file of columns and rows that help sort and arrange data in a numerical format.

A beginner’s guide to spreadsheets

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Spreadsheet examples

Spreadsheets can be used for a wide range of data and although most commonly used for analysing numbers, they have other uses too. Here are some of them :

– The preparation of financial data such as payment systems and invoices
– Form templates can be created as a spreadsheet if you want to handle information such as timesheets and performance reviews.
– List management such as shopping lists and general to-do lists can be effectively managed in a spreadsheet
– Spreadsheets can also be used to keep track of statistics on your favourite sports teams or players; such data can highlight performance such as average scores
– They can be used in converting PDF to Excel. Check out https://pdftables.com/convert-pdf-to-excel as an example

Spreadsheet performance

Although you could use a standard word processor to collect data, you won’t have the at-your-fingertips number calculations which are where a spreadsheet comes into its own. They are a much more valuable tool because of this and make the processing of lots of information much easier and faster than is the case when using a word processor.

A beginner’s guide to spreadsheets2

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An active worksheet is the one you are currently working on. In Excel, there are a number of tabs along the bottom called ‘Sheet 1’ and so forth. This allows you to have multiple sheets within one single workbook and you can link to and perform operations on data across the different sheets which is valuable in accounting applications.


It’s worth bearing in mind the following when setting up your spreadsheet:

– Each worksheet name has a character limit of 31;
– Rows are labelled with numbers and columns labelled with letters;
– Depending on what software you are using, there are various numbers of worksheets that open by default. For example, if you are using either Microsoft Excel 2016 or OpenOffice Calc, three sheets or tabs will open. For Google, one sheet appears. The same goes if you are using Microsoft Excel 365.

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