# Spreadsheet

By Ted French. Spreadsheets Expert

Ted French has over fifteen years experience teaching and writing about spreadsheet programs such as Excel, Google Spreadsheets and Lotus 1-2-3. Read more

A spreadsheet application is a computer program such as Excel, OpenOffice Calc, or Google Docs Spreadsheets .

An electronic spreadsheet is a computer program that is used for storing, organizing and manipulating data .

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In this sense, a spreadsheet is a file used to store various types of data.

The basic storage unit for a spreadsheet file is a cell. Each cell can hold a single value or item of data.

Cells are arranged in rows and columns with each row being identified by a number and each column by a letter to make it easier to find and use the stored information.

In Excel an individual spreadsheet file is referred to as a workbook .

A term related to this is worksheet which refers to a single page or sheet in a workbook.

So, to put it all together, a *spreadsheet* program, such as Excel, is used to create *workbook* files that contain one or more *worksheets* containing columns and rows of cells of data.

### Data Types, Formulas, and Functions

The types of data that a cell can hold include numbers, text or formulas. Just as in math class, formulas are used for calculations – usually involving data contained in other cells. An electronic spreadsheet includes a number of built in formulas used for common tasks known as functions .

### Storing Financial Data in a Spreadsheet

A spreadsheet is often used to store financial data. Formulas and functions that can be used on financial data include:

- Performing basic
mathematical operations such as summing columns and rows of figures.

Finding the average, maximum, or minimum values in a specified range of data.

### Spreadsheet Cells and Cell References

When you look at a spreadsheet screen (refer to the example on this page) you see a rectangular table or grid of rows and columns. The horizontal rows are identified by numbers (1,2,3;) and the vertical columns with letters of the alphabet (A,B,C;). For columns beyond 26, columns are identified by two or more letters such as AA, AB, AC.

The intersection point between a column and a row is a small rectangular box known as a cell. A cell is the basic unit for storing data in the spreadsheet.

Because a spreadsheet contains thousands of these cells, each is given a cell reference or cell address to identify it.

The cell reference is a combination of the column letter and the row number such as **A3, B6, AA345** .

### Other Uses for an Electronic Spreadsheet

Other common operations that a spreadsheet can be used for include:

- graphing or charting data to assist users in identifying data trends.

sorting and filtering data to find specific information.

Information stored in a spreadsheet can also be incorporated into electronic presentations, web pages, or printed off in report form.

### The Original "Killer App"

Spreadsheets were the original *killer apps* for personal computers. Early spreadsheet programs, such as VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3, were largely responsible for the growth in popularity of computers like the Apple II and the IBM PC as a business tool.

Category: Bank

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