Spreadsheets

Author:Betty Brown
Pages:685-687
 
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Page 685

Spreadsheet software is one of the most-used technologies for collecting, computing, and displaying data. Spreadsheets contain a rectangular array of cells in rows and columns that can hold data. Users can create business models, graphs and charts, and reports for financial, statistical, or other data. Most spreadsheet software allows a user to access real-time data from Web sites and to collaborate across teams and workgroups.

SPREADSHEET PACKAGES

Spreadsheet packages are available for various operating systems, such as Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, Java, Linux, and VMS. Spreadsheet capabilities are included in financial management packages and integrated software packages. The best-known spreadsheet software packages are Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 from IBM Corporation, and Corel's Quattro Pro. These three packages are included as parts of office suites from Microsoft, IBM, and Corel.

In addition, dozens of other spreadsheet packages are available. Many of these offer users an opportunity to try the product for a limited period and then pay a fee for permission to use the package beyond the evaluation period. Many spreadsheets are listed on the Internet by their developers, either as shareware or for purchase, and some are available for downloading.

SPREADSHEET APPLICATIONS

A spreadsheet is a table representing information in worksheet form. The spreadsheet can be visualized as a large sheet of paper with rows and columns and is based on the worksheets used by accountants for manual computations.

Figure 1

Sales by region for first quarter

Sales by region for first quarter
January February March Total
East $ 1,200 $1,500 $1,800 $4,500
Midwest 500 1,000 1,500 3,000
South 900 1,500 1,800 4,200
West 2,000 2,100 2,400 6,500
Totals $4,600 $6,100 $7,500 $18,200


Spreadsheets range from small, simple text tables to large documents that can carry out complex computations and statistical analysis of thousands of data entries.

Simple spreadsheets can be displayed on screen; more complex spreadsheets extend into vast numbers of cells and can be displayed in part on one screen. The power of a spreadsheet is in its ability to store formulas and display their results. A recalculation feature in spreadsheets allows a user to enter new data into the spreadsheet—which can affect other sections of the spreadsheet—and see the results of new calculations. This "What If" feature of spreadsheets is a valuable tool for users.

FORMAT OF A SPREADSHEET

Spreadsheet software packages organize numeric data into table format, vertically in columns and horizontally in rows. Three types of data may be entered into a spreadsheet or worksheet: (1) values or numbers, (2) names or labels, and (3) formulas for calculation. Values may be used for basic arithmetic operations: addition...

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