This chapter comes from the 33rd edition of the "Secret Guide to Computers & Tricky Living," copyright by Russ Walter. To read the rest of the book, look at www.SecretFun.com.

Excel

Any table of numbers is called a spreadsheet. For example, this spreadsheet deals with money:

January   February

Income   \$9,030.95 \$12,486.99

Expenses \$7,000.55  \$9,210.75

-----------------------------

Profit   \$2,030.40  \$3,276.24

A spreadsheet can show how many dollars you earned (or spent or plan to spend), how many goods you have in stock, how people scored in a test (or survey or scientific experiment), or any other numbers you wish!

A spreadsheet program helps you create spreadsheets, edit them, and analyze them.

The first spreadsheet program was invented in 1979. It was designed by Dan Bricklin and coded by Bob Frankston. (That means Dan Bricklin decided what features and menus the program should have, and Bob Frankston wrote the program.) They called the program VisiCalc because it was a “visible calculator”. VisiCalc’s first version ran on the Apple 2 computer and required 64K of RAM; later versions ran on the Radio Shack TRS-80 and IBM PC.

The second spreadsheet program was called SuperCalc because it was superior to VisiCalc. It was invented by a company called Sorcim (which is “micros” spelled backwards). The original version of SuperCalc ran on computers using the CP/M operating system. The most popular CP/M computer — the Osborne 1 — came with a free copy of SuperCalc. Later versions of SuperCalc ran on the Apple 2 and IBM PC. Eventually, Sorcim became part of a big conglomerate called Computer Associates.

Multiplan was the first spreadsheet program that could handle multiple spreadsheets simultaneously — and the relationships among them. Invented by Microsoft, it ran on a greater variety of computers than any other spreadsheet program: it ran on CP/M computers, the Radio Shack TRS-80, Commodore 64, Texas Instruments 99/4, IBM PC, Apple 2, and Apple Mac.

Context MBA was the first spreadsheet program that had extras: besides handling spreadsheets, it also handled graphs, databases, word processing, and telecommunications. But it ran slowly and its word processing was limited (it couldn’t center and wouldn’t let you set tab stops). It required a strange operating system (the Pascal P System). It was invented in 1981 by Context Management Systems, which later invented an MS-DOS version called Corporate MBA.

All those spreadsheet programs became irrelevant in 1983, when a much better spreadsheet program was invented. It was designed by Mitch Kapor and coded by Jonathan Sachs for the IBM PC. They called the program
1-2-3, because it ran fast and was supposed to handle 3 things: spreadsheets, graphs, and word processing; but when Jonathan examined Context MBA, he realized that putting a good word processor into 1-2-3 would consume too much RAM and make the program run too slowly. He omitted the word processor and replaced it with a stripped-down database processor instead. 1-2-3 handled spreadsheets well, graphs okay, and databases slightly. Mitch and Jonathan called their company
Lotus Development Corporation, because Mitch was a transcendental-meditation instructor who got entranced by contemplating lotus flowers.

After inventing 1-2-3, Jonathan Sachs tried to invent a program called 1-2-3-4-5, which was to handle the same five tasks as Context MBA: spreadsheets, graphs, databases, word processing, and telecommunications.

While developing it, he realized it was becoming too big and confusing, so he stopped developing it and quit the company. Other Lotus employees finished that program and renamed it Symphony; but as he feared, it was a big confusing mess whose word processor was awful. Most businesses bought just 1-2-3 instead.

Like Jonathan, Mitch began feeling that Lotus Development Corporation and its products were becoming too big and confusing, so Mitch quit too.

Afterwards, Lotus Development Corporation was run by Jim Manzi, who was young, rich, vain, egotistical, and nasty. The rest of the computer industry hated him, though his employees were nice. Finally, he sold Lotus to IBM, which gave lots of money to him and the other shareholders & employees. Then he quit, a rich man!

Other companies invented cheap imitations of 1-2-3. The imitations were called 1-2-3 clones or 1-2-3 twins. The first 1-2-3 twins were The Twin (published by Mosaic Software) and VP-Planner (published by Paperback Software). Lotus sued both of those publishers and put them out of business.

In 1983 — the same year that Lotus invented 1-2-3 — Apple invented Lisa Calc. It was the first spreadsheet program to use a mouse. It ran just on the Lisa computer, which was expensive (\$8,000). When Apple began selling the Mac computer the next year (1984), Microsoft began selling Multiplan for the Mac, which ran on the Mac and combined the best features of Multiplan and Lisa Calc. The next year, 1985, Microsoft invented a further improvement, called Excel because it’s excellent. Like 1-2-3, Excel handles spreadsheets, graphs, and databases.

Apple wanted to sue Microsoft for inventing the Windows operating system (which makes the IBM PC resemble a Mac). To avoid the suit, Microsoft agreed to put Excel on just the Mac for a year. Exactly one year later, when that agreement expired, Microsoft put Excel on the IBM PC.

So now Excel runs on both the Mac and the IBM PC. It’s the best spreadsheet program.

Another fine spreadsheet program is called Quattro, because it’s what came after 1-2-3. It was invented by Borland, which later invented an improved version, called Quattro Pro. In 1994, Borland sold Quattro Pro to another company, Novell, which later sold it to Corel. So now Quattro Pro is published by Corel.

What to do

The best spreadsheet program is Excel, which requires that you buy Windows or a Mac.

To pay less, you can use the stripped-down spreadsheet programs that are part of Microsoft Works (for Windows) or AppleWorks (which has sometimes been called Claris Works and is available for the Apple 2, Mac, and Windows).

This chapter explains how to use the most popular spreadsheet program: Excel. I’ll explain these versions:

Excel 2007 (which is part of Microsoft Office 2007)

Excel 2010 (which is part of Microsoft Office 2010)

Excel 2013 (which is part of Microsoft Office 2013)

Excel 2016 (which is part of Microsoft Office 2016)

All those versions run in Windows. (Other versions are similar.)

Prepare yourself

Before using Excel, practice using Microsoft Word, which is simpler and explained in the previous chapter. That chapter explains how to copy Word and Excel to your hard disk.

Launch Excel

Here’s how to start using Excel.

Version 2016 Choose one of these methods:

Menu method Tap the Start button. (For old Windows 10, then tap “All apps”.) You start seeing an alphabetical list of all apps. Get to the “E” part of that list (by putting your finger in the list’s middle and swiping up, or by tapping “A” then “E”). Tap “Excel 2016”.

Search method Next to the Windows Start button is the Windows Search box. Make sure that box is white or light gray. (If it’s black or dark gray, make it lighter by tapping it or the Windows Start button.) Type “exc”. (Type on a physical keyboard, or make an on-screen keyboard appear by tapping the keyboard icon at the screen’s bottom.) Your typing appears in the Windows Search box. You see a list of things that contain “word”. Tap “Excel 2016: Desktop app”.

If the computer says “What’s New in Excel”, tap “Close”.

Tap “Blank workbook”.

Version 2013 While you’re looking at Windows 8.1’s Apps screen (or Windows 8’s Start screen), type “ex”. Tap “Excel 2013” then “Blank workbook”.

Version 2010 Click the Start button. If you see “Microsoft Office Excel 2010”, click it; otherwise, click “All Programs” then “Microsoft Office” then “Microsoft Excel 2010”.

Version 2007 Click the Start button. If you see “Microsoft Office Excel 2007”, click it; otherwise, click “All Programs” then “Microsoft Office” then “Microsoft Office Excel 2007”.

Fill in the cells

The screen shows a grid that begins like this:

┌────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┐

│    │   A    │   B    │   C    │   D    │   E    │   F    │

├────╔════════╗────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  1 ║        ║        │        │        │        │        │

├────╚════════╝────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  2 │        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  3 │        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  4 │        │        │        │        │        │        │

└────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┘

The grid’s columns are labeled A, B, C, D, E, etc.

A cheap screen (800-by-600, which is called SVGA)

shows columns A through L.

A normal screen (1024-by-768, which is called XGA)

shows columns A through O.

A modern widescreen (1600-by-900, which is called 900p)

shows columns A through X.

The grid’s rows are labeled 1, 2, 3, etc.

A cheap screen (800-by-600, which is called SVGA) shows

17 rows in versions 2007&2010.

A normal screen (1024-by-768, which is called XGA) shows

25 rows in versions 2007&2010.

A modern widescreen (1600-by-900, which is called 900p) shows

29 rows in version 2016, 30 rows in version 2013, 32 rows in versions 2007&2010.

The grid is called a spreadsheet or worksheet (or just sheet or table).

Notice that the computer puts a box in column A, row 1. If you tap the right-arrow key, that box moves to the right, so it’s in column B. If you tap the down-arrow key, the box moves down, to row 2. By tapping the 4 arrow keys, you can move the box in all 4 directions, to practically anywhere on the grid. Try it! (Tap just the arrow keys that are near the right Shift key, not the arrow keys that have numbers on them.)

Another way to move the box is to use a mouse (or a touch screen): click (or tap) where you want the box to go.

Each possible position of the box is called a cell.

The box’s original position (in column A, row 1) is called cell A1. If you move the box there and then tap the right-arrow key, the box moves to column B, row 1; that position is called cell B1.

Just move the box from cell to cell, and put into each cell whatever words or numbers you wish!

For example, suppose you run a small business whose income is \$7000 and expenses are \$5000. Those are the figures for January; the figures for February aren’t in yet. Let’s put the January figures into a spreadsheet, like this:

┌────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┐

│    │   A    │   B    │   C    │   D    │   E    │   F    │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  1 │        │January │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  2 │Income  │    7000│        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  3 │Expenses│    5000│        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  4 │Profit  │        │        │        │        │        │

└────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┘

To begin, move the box to cell A2. Type the word Income. As you type that word, you see it appearing in cell A2. It also appears temporarily near the screen’s top (above the grid), in an input line (which Excel calls the formula bar).

Press the down-arrow key, which moves the box down to cell A3. Type the word Expenses.

Press the down-arrow key (to move to cell A4). Type the word Profit.

Move the box to cell B1 (by pressing the up-arrow three times and then the right-arrow once). Type the word January.

Press down-arrow. Type 7000.

Press down-arrow. Type 5000.

Press down-arrow again.

Backspace key

If you make a mistake while typing the words and numbers, press the Backspace key to erase the last character you typed.

Alternative keys

Instead of pressing the right-arrow key, you can press the Tab key. Instead of pressing the down-arrow key, you can press the Enter key.

Type a formula

Although the computer’s screen shows the words you typed (Income, Expenses, and Profit), the computer doesn’t understand what those words mean. It doesn’t know that “Profit” means “Income minus Expenses”. The computer doesn’t know that the number in cell B4 (which represents the profit) ought to be the number in cell B2 (the amount of income) minus the number in cell B3 (the dollars spent).

You must teach the computer the meaning of Profit, by teaching it that the number in cell B4 ought to be the number in cell B2 minus the number in cell B3. To do that, move the box to cell B4, then type this formula:

=B2-B3

Notice that every formula begins with an equal sign. The rest of the formula, B2-B3, tells the computer to subtract the number in cell B3 from the number in cell B2 and put the answer into the box’s cell (which is cell B4).

When you’ve finished typing the formula, press the Enter key. Then the computer automatically computes the formula’s answer (2000) and puts that number into the box’s cell (B4), so the screen looks like this:

┌────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┐

│    │   A    │   B    │   C    │   D    │   E    │   F    │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  1 │        │January │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  2 │Income  │    7000│        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  3 │Expenses│    5000│        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  4 │Profit  │    2000│        │        │        │        │

└────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┘

The formula “=B2-B3” remains in effect forever. It says that the number in cell B4 will always be the B2 number minus the B3 number. If you ever change the numbers in cells B2 and B3 (by moving the box to those cells, retyping the numbers, and pressing Enter), the computer automatically adjusts the number in cell B4, so the number in cell B4 is still B2 minus B3 and still represents the correct profit.

For example, suppose you move the box to cell B2, then type 8000 (to change the January income to \$8000), and then press Enter. As soon as you press Enter, the profit in cell B4 immediately changes to 3000, right in front of your eyes!

A typical spreadsheet contains dozens of numbers, totals, subtotals, averages, and percentages. Each cell that contains a total, subtotal, average, or percentage is defined by a formula. Whenever you retype one of the numbers in the spreadsheet, the computer automatically readjusts all the totals, subtotals, averages, and percentages, right before your eyes.

Remember to begin each formula with an equal sign. The rest of the formula can contain these symbols:

Symbol  Meaning

+             plus

-              minus

*              times

/              divided by

.              decimal point

It can also contain E notation and parentheses. For details about how to use those symbols, E notation, and parentheses, read pages 603-604, which explain Python’s fundamentals and math.

Less typing When you’re creating a formula such as “=B2-B3”, you do not have to type the “B2”. Instead, you can choose one of these shortcuts:

Instead of typing “B2”, you can type “b2” without bothering to capitalize. When you’ve finished typing the entire formula (“=b2-b3”), press the Enter key. Then the computer will capitalize your formula automatically!

Instead of typing “B2”, you can move the mouse pointer to the middle of cell B2, then press the mouse’s button. That’s called “clicking cell B2”. When you click cell B2, the computer automatically types “B2” for you! So to create the formula “=B2-B3”, you can do this: type the equal sign, then click cell B2, then type the minus sign, then click cell B3. When you’ve finished creating the entire formula, press Enter.

Instead of typing “B2”, you can move the box to cell B2 by using the arrow keys. When you move the box to cell B2, the computer automatically types “B2” for you! So to create the formula “=B2-B3”, you can do this: type the equal sign, then move the box to cell B2 (by using the arrow keys), then type the minus sign, then move the box to cell B3. When you’ve finished creating the entire formula, press Enter.

Edit old cells

To edit what’s in a cell, move the box to that cell. Then choose one of these editing methods:

Delete method Press the Delete key. That makes the cell become totally blank.

Retype method Retype the entire text, number, or formula that you want to put into the cell.

Edit method In the input line (near the screen’s top, above the grid), look at what you typed, find the part of your typing that you want to change, and click that part (by using the mouse). Then edit your typing as if you were using a word processor: you can use the left-arrow key, right-arrow key, Backspace key, Delete key, and mouse. When you finish editing, press the Enter key.

Functions

Here’s how to perform functions.

Sum of a column To make a cell be the sum of cells B2 through B9, you can type this formula:

=B2+B3+B4+B5+B6+B7+B8+B9

Instead of typing all that, you can type just this:

=SUM(B2:B9)

A function is a word that makes the computer calculate (such as SUM). After each function, you must put parentheses. For example, you must put parentheses after SUM.

Since the computer ignores capitalization, you can type:

=sum(b2:b9)

Here’s how to type the formula =sum(b2:b9) quickly. Begin by typing:

=sum(

Then drag from cell B2 to cell B9. To do that, move the mouse to cell B2, then hold down the mouse button while moving to B9. That makes the computer type the “B2:B9”. Then press Enter, which makes the computer automatically type the “)”.

AutoSum button Here’s an even faster way to type the formula =SUM(B2:B9).

Click the AutoSum button. (It’s near the screen’s top-right corner. It has the symbol S on it. The symbol S is called “sigma”. It’s the Greek version of the letter S. Mathematicians use it to stand for the word “sum”.)

Clicking the AutoSum button makes the computer type “=SUM()”. It also makes the computer guess what you want the sum of. The computer puts that guess inside the parentheses.

If the computer’s guess differs from what you want (B2:B9), fix the guess (by dragging from cell B2 to cell B9). When you finally see the correct formula, =SUM(B2:B9), press Enter.

Sum of a row To find the sum of cells B2 through H2 (which is B2+C2+D2+E2+F2+G2+H2), type this:

=sum(b2:h2)

Sum of a rectangle To find the sum of all cells in the rectangle that stretches from B2 to C4 (which is B2+B3+B4+C2+C3+C4), type this:

=sum(b2:c4)

Average To find the average of cells B9 through B13, you can type this:

=(b9+b10+b11+b12+b13)/5

But this way is shorter:

=average(b9:b13)

Here’s how to type that quickly:

Begin by typing “=average(”. Then drag from cell B9 to cell B13. Then press the Enter key, which makes the computer automatically type the “)”.

Here’s an even faster way to type the formula “=average(b9:b13)”:

Click the u that’s next to the S button. Then click “Average”.

To find the average of cells C7, B5, and F2, you can ask for (c7+b5+f2)/3, but a nicer way is to type this:

=average(c7,b5,f2)

Undo

If you make a big mistake, click the Undo button. (It’s at the screen’s top, near the left corner. It shows an arrow turning back to the left.)

To undo your last two activities, click the Undo button twice.

Redo If you click the Undo button, the computer might undo a different activity than you expected. If clicking the Undo button accidentally makes the spreadsheet look even worse instead of better, and you wish you hadn’t clicked the Undo button, here’s how to “undo the undo”:

Click the Redo button (which is to the right of the Undo button and shows an arrow bending forward to the right).

Hop far

Here’s how to be quick as a bunny and hop far in your spreadsheet.

Farther rows

The screen shows just a few rows, which are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Row 1 is at the top of the screen. Row 15 is near the bottom of the screen.

Try this experiment. Move the box down to row 15 (by pressing the down-arrow key repeatedly). Then press the down-arrow key several more times. Eventually, you’ll get to row 30, and later to row 100, and much later to row 1000. (The largest row number you can go to is 1048576.)

To make room on the screen for those new rows, row 1 disappears temporarily. If you want to get back to row 1, press the up-arrow key repeatedly.

Touch screen If you have a touch screen, put your finger in the screen’s middle, then swipe up toward the screen’s top. You see higher row numbers (such as row 30).

To return to normal, put your finger in the screen’s middle, then swipe down toward the screen’s bottom.

Scroll wheel On your mouse, between the left button and the right button, you see a thin wheel, typically gray, called the scroll wheel.

Rotate the scroll wheel toward you. You see higher row numbers (such as row 30).

Farther columns

The screen shows just a few columns, which are lettered A, B, C, etc. If you press the right-arrow key repeatedly, you’ll eventually get to column Z.

After column Z, you can still continue pressing the right-arrow key. The next 26 columns are lettered from AA to AZ. The next 26 columns are lettered from BA to BA. And so on.

You can have 16384 columns. The last column is XFD.

Touch screen If you have a touch screen, put your finger in the screen’s middle, then swipe left. You see later column numbers (such as column Z).

AutoRepeat

Here’s a shortcut: instead of pressing an arrow key repeatedly, just hold down the key awhile.

Screenfuls

Here’s how to move far:

To move far down, press the Page Down key.

To move far up,    press the Page Up key.

To move far to the right,

press the Page Down key while holding down the Alt key.

To move far to the left,

press the Page Up key while holding down the Alt key.

Each of those keys moves the box far enough so you see the next screenful of rows and columns.

Home key

Cell A1 is called the home cell, because that’s where life and your spreadsheet begin: at home! Column A is called the home column.

Your keyboard has a Home key. Here’s how to use it:

Pressing the Home key makes the box move far left, so it lands in column A.

If you press the Home key while holding down the Ctrl key, the box moves to cell A1.

To move to the spreadsheet’s edge, press an arrow key while holding down the Ctrl key.

For example, to move the box to the spreadsheet’s right edge, press the right-arrow key while holding down the Ctrl key. That moves the box moves to the right, until it reaches the final column (IV or XFD) or a boundary cell (a cell containing data and next to an empty cell).

Go key

To make the box go to a distant cell immediately, choose one of these methods:

G method While holding down the Ctrl key, tap the G key (which means “Go”).

F5 method Press the F5 key. Exception: on that key, if the “F5” is blue (such as on Toshiba’s laptop) or very tiny (such as on HP’s new laptop) or on a new computer by Microsoft or Lenovo, do this instead: press the F5 key while holding down the Fn key (which is left of the Space bar).

Then type the name of the cell where you want to go (such as C9) followed by Enter.

You can also use this alternative:

Above column A, you see the Name box, which tells you the name of the cell where the box is. For example, while the box is at cell B4, the name box says “B4”.

To move the box to a distant cell immediately, click in the Name box, then type the name of the cell where you want to go (such as C9) followed by Enter.

How many rows and columns are in your spreadsheet, and how big are they? Here’s how to adjust them.

Widen a column

When you start a new spreadsheet, each cell is wide enough to hold an 8-digit number. If you type a longer number, the column widens to fit it.

Here’s how make column D be wider, so each cell in column D can hold long numbers and long words:

At the top of column D, you see the letter D. Move the mouse until its pointer is between the letters D and E, and on the vertical gridline that separates them. The pointer’s shape turns into a double-headed arrow. Then drag that vertical gridline toward the right (to make the column wider) or left (to make the column narrower).

Widen several columns Here’s how to widen columns D, E, F, and G simultaneously:

Drag from the letter D to the letter G. All those columns darken. (In versions 2007&2013&2016, they turn gray. In version 2010, they turn blue.)

Look at the vertical gridline to the right of the D. Drag the top of that gridline toward the right. That widens column D; and when you release your finger from the mouse’s button, all the other columns you selected will widen also.

Perfect width Here’s how to make column D just wide enough to hold the widest data in it:

Double-click the gridline that separates the letter D from E.

(If the column doesn’t contain data yet, the computer will leave the column’s width unchanged.)

Here’s how to make columns D, E, F, and G have perfect widths simultaneously:

Drag from the letter D to the letter G, so all those columns turn dark. Then double-click the gridline that separates the letter D from E.

Long numbers If you try to type a long number in a cell that’s too narrow to hold the number, the cell might display number signs (#) instead of the number.

For example, if you try typing a long number in a cell that’s just 4 characters wide, the cell might display 4 number signs (like this: ####).

Although the cell displays just number signs, the computer remembers the long number you typed. To see the long number, widen the cell (by widening its column).

So if you see number signs in a cell, the computer is telling you the cell’s too narrow and should be widened.

Long words Try this experiment. Make cell B1 be just 4 characters wide. Then try to type the word “January” in that cell.

That cell, B1, might show just the first 4 letters (Janu). But if the next cell (C1) is blank, cell B1 will temporarily widen to hold “January”, then contract to its original size (4 characters) when you enter data in cell C1.

Delete a column

Here’s how to delete column D:

Right-click the D at the top of column D (by using the mouse’s right button instead of the left). Then choose Delete from the menu that appears.

The computer erases all the data from column D, so column D becomes blanks, which the computer immediately fills by shifting some data from other columns. Here’s how.…

Into column D, the computer moves the data from column E. Then into column E, the computer moves the data from column F. Then into column F, the computer moves the data from column G. And so on.

At the end of the process, the top of the screen still shows all the letters (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc.); but now column D contains the data that used to be in column E; and column E contains the data that used to be in column F; etc.

After rearranging the spreadsheet, the computer fixes all formulas. For example, after column E’s data has moved to column D, the computer hunts through all formulas in the spreadsheet and fixes them by changing each “E” to “D”. The computer also changes each “F” to “E”, each “G” to “F”, etc.

Delete several columns You’ve learned how to delete column D. Here’s how to delete several columns. To delete columns D, E, F, and G, do this:

Drag from the D to the G. Then right-click anywhere in columns D through G (by using the mouse’s right button instead of the left). Then choose Delete from the menu that appears.

Delete a row

Here’s how to delete row 2:

Right-click the 2 (by using the mouse’s right button instead of the left). Then choose Delete from the menu that appears.

Then the computer erases all the data from row 2, so row 2 becomes empty; but then the computer immediately fills that hole, by shifting the data from other rows. Here’s how.…

Into row 2, the computer moves the data from row 3. Then into row 3, the computer moves the data from row 4. Then into row 4, the computer moves the data from row 5. And so on.

At the end of the process, the left edge of the screen still shows all the numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.); but now row 2 contains the data that used to be in row 3; and row 3 contains the data that used to be in row 4; etc.

The computer fixes all formulas.

Insert a column

Here’s how to insert an extra column in the middle of your spreadsheet:

Right-click where you want the extra column to appear. For example, if you want the extra column to appear where column D is now, right-click the D. Then choose Insert from the menu that appears.

The computer will move other columns out of the way, to make room for the extra column. The computer will also fix each formula.

Insert a row

Right-click where you want the extra row to appear. For example, if you want the extra row to appear where row 2 is now, right-click the 2. Then choose Insert from the menu that appears.

The computer will move other rows out of the way, to make room for the extra row. The computer will also fix each formula.

Zoom

Here’s how to see make your screen show twice as many rows and columns, simultaneously.

Versions 2013&2016 At the screen’s bottom-right corner, you see a plus sign (+). Left of it, you see a minus sign (-). Halfway between those signs, you see box, called the zoom slider. (The box is black in version 2016, white in version 2013.)

If you drag the zoom slider toward the left, the screen’s characters shrink, so you can fit more characters and pages onto the screen. For example, if you drag the zoom slider toward the left until the number right of the plus sign is “50%”, the computer will make all the screen’s characters tiny (half as tall and half as wide), so twice as many rows and twice as many columns fit on the screen. If you drag the zoom slider toward the right instead, the screen’s characters enlarge, so you can read them even if you’re sitting far from the screen or have poor vision.

When you finish playing with the zoom slider, put it back to its normal position (the middle), so the number right of the plus sign is “100%”.

Versions 2007&2010 At the screen’s bottom-right corner, you see a plus sign (+). Left of it, you see a minus sign (-). Halfway between those signs, you see a pentagon, called the zoom slider.

If you drag the zoom slider toward the left, the screen’s characters shrink, so you can fit more characters and pages onto the screen. For example, if you drag the zoom slider toward the left until the number left of the minus sign is “50%”, the computer will make all the screen’s characters tiny (half as tall and half as wide), so twice as many rows and twice as many columns fit on the screen. If you drag the zoom slider toward the right instead, the screen’s characters enlarge, so you can read them even if you’re sitting far from the screen or have poor vision.

When you finish playing with the zoom slider, put it back to its normal position (the middle), so the number left of the minus sign is “100%”.

Touch screen If you have a touch screen, do this:

Put two fingers near the screen’s middle, then pinch those fingers together (by sliding them). That shrinks all the grid’s characters & cells, so more rows & columns fit on the screen.

To return to normal, put two fingers together at the screen’s middle, then spread those fingers apart (by sliding them). That enlarges all the grid’s characters & cells, so you can read them more easily without squinting.

Scroll wheel If your mouse has a scroll wheel, do this:

While holding down the Ctrl key, rotate the scroll wheel toward you. That shrinks all the grid’s characters & cells, so more rows & columns fit on the screen.

To return to normal, rotate the scroll wheel away from you while holding down the Ctrl key. That enlarges all the grid’s characters & cells, so you can read them more easily without squinting.

What’s on paper? All those zoom methods affect just what you see on the screen. They do not affect what’s printed on paper.

Freeze title panes

You should put a title at the top of each column.

For example, if column B contains financial information for January, and column C contains financial information for February, you should put the word January at the top of column B, and the word February at the top of column C. Since the words January and February are at the top of the columns, they’re in row 1. They’re called the column titles.

If row 2 analyzes Income, and row 3 analyzes Expenses, you should put the word Income at the left edge of row 2, and the word Expenses at the left edge of row 3. Since the words Income and Expenses are at the left edge of the spreadsheet, they’re in column A. They’re called the row titles.

So in a typical spreadsheet, the column titles are in row 1, and row titles are in column A.

Unfortunately, when you move beyond column M or beyond row 25 (by pressing the arrow keys repeatedly), the titles normally disappear from the screen, and you forget the purpose of each row and column. Here’s how to solve that problem.

Get cell A1 onto the screen (by pressing Ctrl with Home). Click cell B2 then “View” (at the screen’s top) then Freeze Panes then “Freeze Panes” again then “Home” (at the screen’s top).

Now the window is divided into 4 panes, separated by thick black gridlines. The main top pane contains the column titles (January, February, etc.); the main left pane contains the row titles (Income, Expenses, etc.); a tiny pane in the upper-left corner contains a blank cell; and a huge pane contains all the spreadsheet’s data.

Then move through the huge pane, by using the arrow keys or mouse. As you move, the column and row titles stay fixed on the screen, since they’re not in the big pane.

To stop using freeze title panes, click “View” (at the screen’s top) then Freeze Panes then Unfreeze Panes then “Home” (at the screen’s top).

Move

On your spreadsheet, find these cells: B2, B3, B4, C2, C3, and C4. Those six cells are next to each other. In fact, they form a giant rectangular area, whose top left corner is B2.

Here’s how to take all the data in that rectangle and move it to a different part of your spreadsheet.

Drag from the rectangle’s first cell (B2) to the rectangle’s last cell (C4). The entire rectangle turns dark (except for the first cell, which stays white).

Surrounding the rectangle, you’ll see four walls. Those walls are the four sides of the rectangle.

Using your mouse, point at one of the rectangle’s walls. (Do not point at a corner.) When you’ve pointed correctly, the mouse pointer turns into 4 arrows, pointing in all 4 directions.

Then hold down the mouse’s button and drag the wall. While you drag the wall, the rest of the rectangle drags along with it. Drag until the entire rectangle is at a part of the spreadsheet that was blank. Then lift your finger from the mouse’s button.

That’s how you move a rectangle of data to a new place in your spreadsheet that had been blank.

Try it!

After moving the rectangle of data, the computer automatically adjusts all formulas mentioning the moved cells. For example, if the data in cell B2 has moved to cell E7, the computer searches through the entire spreadsheet and, in each formula, changes “B2” to “E7”.

Copy

Spreadsheet programs let you copy info in several ways.

Fill to the right

Here’s how to make lots of love with the computer!

In a cell, type the word “love”.

Click in that cell (to make sure the cell is highlighted), then take your finger off the mouse’s button. With your finger still off the mouse’s button, move the mouse until the mouse’s pointer is at that cell’s bottom right corner. When the pointer is exactly at the corner, the pointer changes to this thin cross: Ç.

Then hold down the mouse’s left button, and drag toward the right, until you’ve dragged across several cells.

When you lift your finger off the mouse’s button, all those cells will contain copies of the word in the first cell. They’ll all say “love”!

Go ahead! Try turning your computer into a lovemaking machine! Do it now! This is an important exercise to try before you get into more advanced computer orgies!

Here’s another example:

In a cell, type the word “tickle”. To make lots of tickles, click in that cell, then point at that cell’s bottom right corner (so you see Ç) and drag it to the right. The cells you drag across will all say “tickle”.

Fill down

When you point at a cell’s bottom right corner and drag, you usually drag to the right. But if you prefer, you can drag down, so you’re copying to the cells underneath (instead of the cells to the right).

Extend a series

You’ve learned that if the original cell said “love”, the adjacent cells will say “love”; and if the original cell said “tickle”, the other cells will say “tickle”.

But if the original cell said “January”, the adjacent cells will not say “January”. Instead, the computer makes them say “February”, “March”, “April”, “May”, etc.

So here’s how to put the words “January”, “February”, “March”, “April”, etc., across your spreadsheet’s top:

Begin by typing “January” in cell B1. Then drag that cell’s bottom right corner to the right, to column H or I or even farther! The farther you drag, the more months you’ll see!

If you start with January,       the computer will say February, March, April, etc.

If you start with Jan,             the computer will say Feb, Mar, Apr, etc.

If you start with October,      the computer will say November, December, January, etc.

If you start with Oct-98,        the computer will say Nov-98, Dec-98, Jan-99, etc.

If you start with 29-Jan,        the computer will say 30-Jan, 31-Jan, 1-Feb, etc.

If you start with 12/29/2016, the computer will say 12/30/2016, 12/31/2016, 1/1/2017, etc.

If you start with 29-Dec-98,  the computer will say 30-Dec-98, 31-Dec-98, 1-Jan-99, etc.

If you start with 29-Dec-99,  the computer will say 30-Dec-99, 31-Dec-99, 1-Jan-00, etc.

If you start with Monday,      the computer will say Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc.

If you start with Mon,           the computer will say Tue, Wed, Thu, etc.

If you start with 10:00 AM,      the computer will say 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM, etc.

If you start with 10:00,         the computer will say 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, etc.

If you start with 22:00,         the computer will say 23:00, 0:00, 1:00, etc.

If you start with Quarter 2,    the computer will say Quarter 3, Quarter 4, Quarter 1, etc.

If you start with Q2,              the computer will say Q3, Q4, Q1, etc.

If you start with 2nd Quarter, the computer will say 3rd Quarter, 4th Quarter, 1st Quarter, etc.

If you start with 2nd Qtr,       the computer will say 3rd Qtr, 4th Qtr, 1st Qtr, etc.

If you start with 2 Q,             the computer will say 3 Q, 4 Q, 1 Q, etc.

If you start with Idiot 1,        the computer will say Idiot 2, Idiot 3, Idiot 4, etc.

If you start with Year 2016,   the computer will say Year 2017, Year 2018, Year 2019, etc.

If you start with 2016 Results, the computer will say 2017 Results, 2018 Results, 2019 Results, etc.

If you start with 1st,              the computer will say 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.

If you start with 1st Idiot,      the computer will say 2nd Idiot, 3rd Idiot, 4th Idiot, etc.

Limitation: if you start with just a plain number (such as 1), the computer will just copy that number; it will not say 2, 3, 4, etc. If you start with just the plain number 2016, the computer will just copy that number; it will not say 2017, 2018, 2019, etc. To make the computer do more than just copy, include a word. For example, instead of saying just 1, say “Idiot 1”; then the computer will say “Idiot 2”, “Idiot 3”, “Idiot 4”, etc. Instead of saying just 2016, say “Year 2016” or “2016 Results” or “People We Accidentally Shot In 2016”; then the computer will generate similar headings for 2017, 2018, etc.

Copy a formula’s concept

If you ask the computer to copy a formula, the computer will copy the concept underlying the formula.

Here’s an example:

Suppose you put this formula in cell B4: =B2+B3. That means cell B4 contains “the sum of the two numbers above it”. If you drag that cell’s bottom right corner to the right, the computer will copy that formula’s concept to the adjacent cells (C4, D4, E4, etc.).

For example, the computer will make C4’s formula be “the sum of the two numbers above it”, by making C4’s formula be =C2+C3. The computer will make D4’s formula be =D2+D3. The computer will make E4’s formula be =E2+E3.

Here’s another example:

Suppose cell B4 contains the formula =2*B3, so that B4 is “twice the cell above it”. When the computer copies that concept to cell C4, the computer will make C4’s formula be “twice the cell above it”; the computer will make C4’s formula be =2*C3.

Here’s another example:

Suppose cell B4 contains the formula =2*A4, so that B4 is “twice the cell to the left of it”. When the computer copies cell B4 to C4, the computer will make C4’s formula be “twice the cell to the left of it”; the computer will make C4’s formula be =2*B4.

Absolute addresses Notice again how copying from B4 to C4 turns the formula =B2+B3 into =C2+C3: it turns each B into a C.

If you want to prevent those changes, put dollar signs in the original formula. For example, if you want to prevent B3 from turning into D3, put dollar signs around the B3, so cell B4 contains this formula:

=B2+\$B\$3

When you copy that cell to C4, the dollar signs prevents the computer from turning the B3 into C3; C4’s formula will become =C2+\$B\$3 (instead of =C2+C3).

Here’s how to type “=B2+\$B\$3” quickly. Type the “=” sign, then move the box to cell B2, then type the “+” sign. Finally, create the \$B\$3 by using this trick: move the box to cell B3, then press the F4 key. When you’ve finished creating the entire formula, press Enter.

A cell’s name (such as B3) is called the cell’s address, because the cell’s name tells you where to find the cell. An address that contains dollar signs (such as \$B\$3) is called an absolute address, because the address is absolutely fixed and will never change, not even when you copy the formula. An address that lacks dollar signs is called a relative address, because when you copy that address you’ll be copying the cell’s relationship to the other cells.

After you’ve finished

Finished creating your spreadsheet? Here’s how to copy it to the disk and printer and move on to another task.

Find the buttons

Most spreadsheet programs (such as old versions of Excel) have 4 buttons near the screen’s top left corner:

The first is the New button.

It can look like a new blank sheet of paper.

The second is the Open button.

It looks like a file folder pried open.

The third is the Save button.

It looks like a 3½-inch floppy disk.

The fourth is the Print button.

It can look like a printer, printing on paper.

But Excel’s modern versions have these peculiarities:

Versions 2010&2016 Click “File” to see “New”, “Open”, and “Print”. The Save button is at the screen’s top, near the left edge.

Version 2013 Click “FILE” to see “New”, “Open”, and “Print”. The Save button is at the screen’s top, near the left edge.

Version 2007 Click the File-office button (the circle at the screen’s top-left corner) to see the New, Open, and Print buttons. The Save button is next to the Office button.

Here’s how to use the helpful buttons.…

Save button

To save the spreadsheet (copy it onto the disk), click the
Save button.

Version 2016 If you haven’t saved the spreadsheet before, then click “This PC”, to keep matters simple.

Version 2013 If you haven’t saved the spreadsheet before, then click “Computer” then “Documents”, to keep matters simple.

If you haven’t saved the spreadsheet before, the computer will say “File Name”. Invent a name for your spreadsheet. Type the name and press Enter.

That makes the computer copy the spreadsheet onto the hard disk.

For example, if you named the spreadsheet “mary”, the computer makes that spreadsheet be a file called mary.xlsx (meaning “Mary’s Excel spreadsheet extended”). The computer puts that file into the Documents folder. (Windows 7 puts it into the Documents library’s “My Documents” folder instead.)

Afterwards, if you change your mind and want to do more editing, go ahead! When you finish that extra editing, save it by clicking the Save button again.

Save often If you’re typing a long document, click the Save button about every 10 minutes. Click it whenever you get to a good stopping place and think, “What I’ve typed so far looks good!”

Then if an accident happens, you’ll lose at most 10 minutes of work, and you can return to the last version you felt good about.

Print button

To print your spreadsheet onto paper, click the Print button then press Enter.

Page Setup

Before clicking the Print button, you can tell the computer what kind of printing you prefer. Here’s how.…

Click Page Layout (which is to the right of “Home” and “Insert”).

If you want the computer to rotate the spreadsheet 90 degrees, so more columns will fit on the paper, click Orientation then Landscape.

If the spreadsheet has many columns and you want to make the characters small enough so all columns fit on one sheet of paper, click the
Width box’s down-arrow then “1 page”. If the spreadsheet has many rows and you want to make the characters small enough so all rows fit on one sheet of paper, click the Height box’s down-arrow then “1 page”. If you change your mind and want to return to normal-size printing, do this for the Width box and Height box: click the box’s down-arrow then “Automatic”.

Normally, the left and right margins are each 0.7 inches wide. To make the left and right margins narrower (so you can fit more columns on the paper), click Margins then Narrow. That makes the left and right margins each be just ¼-inch wide.

Normally, the computer doesn’t bother to print the spreadsheet’s gridlines (the lines that separate the columns from each other and the rows from each other). If you insist that the computer print the gridlines, put a check mark in the Gridlines Print box, by clicking that box.

Normally, the computer doesn’t bother to print the column names (A, B, C) and row names (1, 2, 3). If you insist that the computer print those names, put a check mark in the Headings Print box, by clicking that box.

Click Insert (which is to the right of “Home”) then

If you want the top of each page to say “Annual blood drive”, type “Annual blood drive”. If you want the top of each page to show the page number also, do this afterwards: type a comma, press the Space bar, type the word “Page”, press the Space bar, then click “Page Number”.

Finally, to return your screen to normal, click one of the cells then “View” then “Normal”.

When you finish expressing your preferences to the computer, click Home then the File-office button (which says “FILE” in version 2013, “File” in version 2010, but is a circle in version 2007) then “Print” then Enter.

When you finish working on a spreadsheet, do this.…

Version 2016 If you want to stop using Excel, click the X at the screen’s top-right corner.

If instead you want to continue using Excel, click File then Close. Then the computer lets you work on another document. Your next step is to say “new document” or “old document”. Here’s how.…

If you want to start typing a new spreadsheet, click “File” then New then “Blank workbook”.

If you want to use an old spreadsheet, click “File” then Open. You see a list of the 25 spreadsheets you used most recently. Click whichever spreadsheet you want to use. If you want to use a spreadsheet that’s not on that list of 25, click “This PC” then proceed as follows.…

The computer starts showing you a list of all spreadsheets in the Documents folder (unless you’ve requested a different folder instead). If the list is too long to show completely, here’s how to see the rest of the list: either “click in that list then rotate the mouse’s wheel toward you” or “repeatedly click the down-arrow that’s to the right of that list”. If you want to use one of those spreadsheets, double-click the spreadsheet’s name; the computer will put that spreadsheet onto the screen and let you edit it. If instead you want to delete one of those spreadsheets, click the spreadsheet’s name then press the Delete key; the computer will move that spreadsheet to the Recycle Bin.

Version 2013 If you want to stop using Excel, click the X at the screen’s top-right corner.

If instead you want to continue using Excel, click FILE then Close. Then the computer lets you work on another document. Your next step is to say “new document” or “old document”. Here’s how.…

If you want to start typing a new spreadsheet, click “FILE” then New then “Blank workbook”.

If you want to use an old spreadsheet, click “FILE” then Open. You see a list of the 25 spreadsheets you used most recently. Click whichever spreadsheet you want to use. If you want to use a spreadsheet that’s not on that list of 25, click “Computer” then “Documents” then proceed as follows.…

The computer starts showing you a list of all spreadsheets in the Documents library (unless you’ve requested a different folder instead). If the list is too long to show completely, here’s how to see the rest of the list: either “click in that list then rotate the mouse’s wheel toward you” or “repeatedly click the down-arrow that’s to the right of that list”. If you want to use one of those spreadsheets, double-click the spreadsheet’s name; the computer will put that spreadsheet onto the screen and let you edit it. If instead you want to delete one of those spreadsheets, click the spreadsheet’s name then press the Delete key; the computer will move that spreadsheet to the Recycle Bin.

Version 2010 Click File. Then click Exit or Close.

If you choose Exit, the computer will stop using Excel.

If you choose Close instead of Exit, the computer lets you work on another document. Your next step is to say “new spreadsheet” or “old spreadsheet”. Here’s how.…

If you want to start typing a new spreadsheet, click “File” then New then double-click the first “Blank workbook”.

If you want to use an old spreadsheet, click “File” then Recent. You see a list of the 25 spreadsheets you used most recently. Click whichever spreadsheet you want to use. If you want to use a spreadsheet that’s not on that list of 25, click Open then proceed as follows.…

The computer starts showing you a list of all spreadsheets in the Documents library (unless you’ve requested a different folder instead). If the list is too long to show completely, here’s how to see the rest of the list: either “click in that list then rotate the mouse’s wheel toward you” or “repeatedly click the down-arrow that’s to the right of that list”. If you want to use one of those spreadsheets, double-click the spreadsheet’s name; the computer will put that spreadsheet onto the screen and let you edit it. If instead you want to delete one of those spreadsheets, click the spreadsheet’s name then press the Delete key then the Enter key; the computer will move that spreadsheet to the Recycle Bin.

Version 2007 Click the File-office button. Then click
Exit Excel or Close.

If you choose Exit Excel, the computer will stop using Excel.

If you choose Close instead of Exit Excel, the computer lets you work on another document. Your next step is to say “new spreadsheet” or “old spreadsheet”. Here’s how.…

If you want to start typing a new spreadsheet, click the Office button then New then press Enter.

If you want to use an old spreadsheet, click the Office button, so you see the Office menu. To the right of the Office menu, you see a list of the
17 spreadsheets you used most recently. Click whichever spreadsheet you want to use. If you want to use a spreadsheet that’s not on that list of 17, click Open then proceed as follows.…

The computer starts showing you a list of all spreadsheets in the Documents folder (unless you’ve requested a different folder instead). To see the rest of the list, either “click in that list then rotate the mouse’s wheel toward you” or “repeatedly click the down-arrow that’s to the right of that list”. If you want to use one of those spreadsheets, double-click the spreadsheet’s name; the computer will put that spreadsheet onto the screen and let you edit it. If instead you want to delete one of those spreadsheets, click the spreadsheet’s name then press the Delete key then the Enter key; the computer will move that spreadsheet to the Recycle Bin.

Didn’t save? If you didn’t save your spreadsheet yet, the computer asks, “Do you want to save the changes?” If you click “Yes” or “Save”, the computer copies your document’s most recent version to the hard disk; if instead you click “No” or “Don’t Save”, the computer ignores and forgets your most recent editing.

First, if you’re in the middle of typing a number or word, finish typing it and then press the Enter key.

Next, select which cells you want to beautify. Here’s how.

To select one cell, click it. To select several adjacent cells, drag from the first cell you want to the last cell. To select a whole rectangular area, drag from one corner of rectangle to the opposite corner.

To select column D, click the D. To select columns D through G, point at the D and drag to the G.

To select row 2, click the number 2 at the left edge of row 2. To select
rows 2 through 5, point at the 2 and drag to the 5.

To select the entire spreadsheet, click the box that’s left of the letter A.

When doing one of those selections, use the mouse.

The part of the spreadsheet you’ve selected is called the selection (or range). It’s turned entirely dark, except for the cell where the box is. (In versions 2007&2013&2016, “dark” is gray; in version 2010, “dark” is blue.)

If your selection includes at least 2 numbers, you can make the screen’s bottom show you statistics.

The screen’s bottom can show you 6 statistics: the count (how many cells you selected), numerical count (how many of the selected cells are numbers), sum (total of the selected numbers), average (sum divided by the numerical count), minimum (which of the selected numbers is the smallest), and maximum (which of the selected numbers is the biggest). The first time you use Excel, the computer assumes you want to see just 3 of those statistics: the count, sum, and average. Here’s how to make all 6 statistics appear: right-click one of the statistics you see; then you see a list of those 6 statistics; put check marks in front of each of those 6 (by clicking). That makes the computer show those 6 statistics forevermore (every day for every spreadsheet), until you say otherwise (by right-clicking one of the statistics and removing check marks).

After you’ve made your selection, tell the computer how to beautify it. Choose one of the following forms of beauty.…

Italic

Here’s how to make all writing in the selection be italicized (like this).

Find the I button (which is near the screen’s top, above column B or C). Activate that button by clicking it. Activating the button changes the button’s appearance.

Version 2016              The button turns gray.

Version 2013              The button turns green.

Versions 2007&2010 The button turns orange.

That makes all writing in the selection be italicized.

If you change your mind and want the writing not to be italicized, select the writing again (so it turns dark again) then deactivate the I button (by clicking it again).

Bold

Here’s how to make all writing in the selection be bold (like this).

Find the B button (which is near the screen’s top, next to the I button, and above column A, B, or C). Activate that button by clicking it. That makes all writing in the selection be bold.

If you change your mind and want the writing not to be bold, select the writing again (so it turns dark again) then deactivate the B button (by clicking it again).

To get bold italics, activate the bold button and also the italic button (by clicking both of them).

Underline

Here’s how to make all writing in the selection be underlined (like this).

Find the U button (which is near the screen’s top, next to the I button, and above column B or C). Activate that button by clicking it. That makes all writing in the selection be underlined.

If you change your mind and want the writing not to be underlined, select the writing again (so it turns dark again) then deactivate the U button again (by clicking it again).

Font size

You see the number 11 above column C, D, or E. To make all writing in the selection get bigger (like this), click the down-arrow to the right of that number, then click a font size that’s a bigger number. (For example, click 14 or 16.)

To make your spreadsheet easier to read, use big writing for the column headings (such as January), the row headings (such as Income, Expenses, and Profit), any totals, and the bottom-line results (such as the \$2000 profit).

Align

Here’s how to make all writing in the selection be nudged slightly to the left or slightly to the right.

Click one of these three buttons:

──────          ──────           ──────

────             ────              ────

──────          ──────           ──────

────             ────              ────

──────          ──────           ──────

────             ────              ────

Those buttons are near the screen’s top, above column E, F, or G.

Here’s what those buttons do.

Clicking the left button makes each cell’s writing be aligned left

┌─────────────────────────┐

│like this                │

└─────────────────────────┘

Clicking the center button makes each cell’s writing be centered

┌─────────────────────────┐

│        like this        │

└─────────────────────────┘

Clicking the right button makes each cell’s writing be aligned right

┌─────────────────────────┐

│                like this│

└─────────────────────────┘

Don’t click? If you don’t click any of the buttons, here’s what happens:

If the cell contains a word, the computer puts the word aligned left.

If the cell contains a number instead, the computer puts the number aligned right.

Align the headings In a simple spreadsheet, row 1 usually contains words that are column headings. Below those headings are numbers, which are aligned right. To align the headings with the numbers beneath them, make the headings be aligned right also. To do that, select row 1 (by clicking the 1), then click the right button.

Delete

To make all writing in the selection vanish (so it’s erased), press the Delete key.

Money

The computer can handle money.

To make each number in the selection look like dollars-and-cents, click the \$ button. That makes the computer put a dollar sign before each number and put two digits after the decimal point. If the number is big, the computer inserts commas.

For example, if the number is 1538.4, the computer turns it into:

┌─────────┐

│\$1,538.40│

└─────────┘

Rounding If the number is .739, the computer rounds it and shows you this:

┌─────────┐

│\$    0.74│

└─────────┘

Negative numbers If a number is negative (because you lost money instead of gained), the computer follows the tradition of accountants and the Internal Revenue Service: it puts the number in parentheses (instead of writing a minus sign).

For example, suppose the number is -974.25. The computer shows you this:

┌──────────┐

│\$ (974.25)│

└──────────┘

Advanced features When showing a number, the computer puts the dollar sign at the cell’s left edge (aligned left), so all dollar signs in that column will line up. The computer puts the digits (and parentheses) aligned right, and widens the cell if necessary to make them all fit.

Near the \$ button, you see a button that has a comma on it. Clicking the comma button has the same effect as clicking the \$ button, except that the comma button does not make the computer write a dollar sign.

Percent

The computer can handle percentages.

To make each number in the selection look like percentage, click the % button. For example, if the number is .74, the computer turns it into 74%.

When writing the percentage, the computer doesn’t write any decimal point. For example, if the number is .519, the computer rounds it to 52%.

If the number is negative the computer puts a negative sign in front.

Decimal places

If you click the \$ or comma button, the computer normally puts two digits after the decimal point. If you click the % button, the computer normally puts no digits after the decimal point.

Here’s how to change those tendencies.

If you click the Increase Decimal button (which shows a .0 becoming a .00), the computer will put an extra digit after the decimal point. If you click it several times, the computer will put several extra digits after the decimal point.

If you click the Decrease Decimal button (showing a .00 becoming a .0) several times, the computer will put fewer digits after the decimal point. For example, here’s how to round to the nearest dollar: click the \$ button (which produces dollars and cents) and then twice click the Decrease Decimal button (which gets rid of the cents by rounding).

Font

Normally, the characters you type are in a font called Calibri. To make all writing in the selection have a different font (such as Times New Roman), click the down-arrow that’s next to “Calibri”, then click whichever font you want.

For spreadsheets, the most useful fonts are Calibri, Arial Narrow, Tahoma, and Times New Roman. They look like this in 11 points:

This font is Calibri. It’s the normal font for spreadsheets. It’s plain and simple. It’s what Excel assumes you want. It looks like this when bold.

This font is Arial Narrow. It resembles Calibri but is narrower, so you can squeeze more words into the same space, more columns onto a page. It looks like this when bold.

This font is Tahoma. It resembles Calibri but has a better capital “I”. It’s also wider. It looks like this when bold.

This font is Times New Roman. It’s the easiest to read, especially if you’re writing lots of words instead of numbers. But its bold looks awkward.

Text color

Normally, the characters you type are black. Here’s how to make all characters in the selection be a different color (such as red).

Above column D or E, you see the
Font Color button, which has an underlined A on it. Notice the color of the A’s underline.

If it’s the color you want, click the underline.

If it’s not the color you want, do this instead: click the down-arrow that’s to the right of the A’s underline; you’ll see 70 colors; click the color you want.

Background color

Normally, you type on a white background. Here’s how to make the entire selection’s background become a different color (such as yellow).

Above column C, D, or E, you see the Fill Color button, which shows a paint can pouring onto a floor. Look at the floor’s color.

If it’s the color you want, click the paint can.

If it’s not the color you want, do this instead: click the down-arrow that’s to the right of the paint can; you’ll see 70 colors; click the color you want.

Distorted color If you selected several cells, some of them temporarily show distorted colors, until you click a single cell.

Sort

This spreadsheet shows how three students (Zelda, Al, and Pedro) scored on a test:

┌────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┐

│    │   A    │   B    │   C    │   D    │   E    │   F    │   G    │   H    │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  1 │Student │Score   │        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  2 │Zelda   │      42│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  3 │Al      │       7│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  4 │Pedro   │     100│        │        │        │        │        │        │

└────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┘

Alphabetize In that list of students, Zelda is on the top; Pedro is on the bottom.

Here’s how to rearrange the rows, to put the students in alphabetical order (from A to Z).

Click any student’s name. Click “Sort & Filter” then “Sort A to Z”.

┌────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┐

│    │   A    │   B    │   C    │   D    │   E    │   F    │   G    │   H    │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  1 │Student │Score   │        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  2 │Al      │       7│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  3 │Pedro   │     100│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  4 │Zelda   │      42│        │        │        │        │        │        │

└────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┘

Increasing scores Here’s how to rearrange the rows, to put the scores in numerical order (starting with the lowest score and ending with the highest).

Click any score. Click “Sort & Filter” then “Sort Smallest to Largest”.

┌────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┐

│    │   A    │   B    │   C    │   D    │   E    │   F    │   G    │   H    │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  1 │Student │Score   │        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  2 │Al      │       7│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  3 │Zelda   │      42│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  4 │Pedro   │     100│        │        │        │        │        │        │

└────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┘

Decreasing scores Here’s how to make the computer put the scores in reverse numerical order (from highest score to lowest score).

Click any score. Click “Sort & Filter” then “Sort Largest to Smallest”.

┌────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┬────────┐

│    │   A    │   B    │   C    │   D    │   E    │   F    │   G    │   H    │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  1 │Student │Score   │        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  2 │Pedro   │     100│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  3 │Zelda   │      42│        │        │        │        │        │        │

├────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┼────────┤

│  4 │Al      │       7│        │        │        │        │        │        │

└────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┴────────┘

That list is useful, since it puts the winners at the top and the losers at the bottom.

Chart

You can graph your data. In modern spreadsheet programs (such as Excel), graphs are called charts.

For example, suppose you want to graph the data from a company you run. Your company sells Day-Glo Pink Hair Dye. (Your motto is: “To brighten your day, stay in the pink!”)

You have two salespeople, Joe and Sue. Joe’s worked for you a long time, and sells about \$8,000 worth of dye each month. Sue joined your company recently and is rapidly improving at encouraging people to turn their hair pink. She does that by inventing slogans for various age groups, such as:

“Feminine babes wear pink!”

“You look so sweet, hair as pink as cotton candy!”

“Don’t be a dink! Think pink!”

“Pink is punk!”

“Pink means I’ll be your Valentine, but lighten up!”

“Be what you drink — a Pink Lady!”

“Let the sexy, slinky, pink panther inside you glow!”

“Love is a pink Cadillac — with hair to match!”

“When in a sour mood, look like a pink grapefruit!”

This spreadsheet shows how many dollars’ worth of dye Joe and Sue sold each month:

The spreadsheet shows that Joe sold \$8000 worth of dye in January, \$6500 in February, and \$7400 in March.

Sue’s a trainee. She sold just \$2000 worth in January, but her monthly sales zoomed up to \$12500 by March.

Here’s how to turn that spreadsheet into a graph (chart).

Next, format the numbers. To do that, drag from the first number (cell B2) to the last number (cell D3), click the \$ button (to put dollar signs in front of the numbers), then twice click the Decrease Decimal button (to round to the nearest dollar). The spreadsheet becomes this:

Tell the computer which cells to graph. To do that, drag from the blank starting cell (A1) to the last number (cell D3). Drag just to that cell, since the computer gets confused if you drag across extra cells or rows or columns.

Then do this:

Version 2016 Click “Insert” (which is near the screen’s top-left corner, next to “Home”).
Click “Recommended Charts”. Press Enter. Then the computer draws the graph. To return the screen’s top part to normal, click “Home” (which is near the screen’s top-left corner).

Version 2013 Click “INSERT” (which is near the screen’s top-left corner, next to “HOME”).
Click “Recommended Charts”. Press Enter. Then the computer draws the graph. To return the screen’s top part to normal, click “HOME” (which is near the screen’s top-left corner).

Versions 2007&2010 Click “Insert” (which is near the screen’s top-left corner, next to “Home”). Click Column. You see the Column menu; click its first square (which is the Clustered Column button). Then the computer draws the graph. To return the screen’s top part to normal, click “Home” (which is near the screen’s top-left corner).

Edit If you change the numbers in the spreadsheet’s cells, the graph will change too, automatically!

The entire graph is inside a box. Try this experiment: click inside that box, but near the box’s outer edge. Then you’ll see 8 handles at the box’s edges.

Version 2016              Each handle is a gray circle with white interior.

Version 2013              Each handle is a tiny white square bulge.

Versions 2007&2010 Each handle is a group of 3 or 4 dark-gray dots.

Those handles mean the white box is selected. Four of those handles are at the corners; they’re called the corner handles.

To change the size of the box (and the graph inside it), drag one of the corner handles.

To move the box (and the graph inside it), put the mouse inside the box and near (but not on) a corner handle, then drag in the direction you want to box to move.

To delete the box (and the graph inside it), press the Delete key.

Print Here’s how to print the graph onto paper.

Click in the graph’s box. Then do this:

Versions 2010&2016 Click “File”.

Version 2013              Click “FILE”.

Version 2007              Click the File-office button.

Then click “Print”. Then press Enter.

That procedure begins by having you click in the graph’s box. If you click outside the graph’s box instead, the printer will print entire spreadsheet, including the graph! (But before you do that procedure, you should move the graph’s box closer to the screen’s left edge and closer to the spreadsheet’s numbers, to avoid wasting paper.)

Save If you click the Save button, your hard disk will store a copy of the entire spreadsheet, including the graph.