What's a spreadsheet ?

A prime example of a spreadsheet is when prices of something are compared over time ;

Fruit | Quarter1 | Quarter2 | Quarter3 | Quarter4 |

Apples | £0.24 | £0.22 | £0.19 | £0.28 |

Bananas | £0.28 | £0.21 | £0.12 | £0.31 |

But this just looks like a table - I can display a table in Word, or another package. What makes Excel different, is that it's very easy to add a total column ;

Fruit | Quarter 1 | Quarter 1 | Quarter 1 | Quarter 1 | Total |

Apples | £0.24 | £0.22 | £0.19 | £0.28 | =SUM(B2:E2) |

Bananas | £0.28 | £0.21 | £0.12 | £0.31 | =SUM(B3:E3) |

Total | =SUM(B2:B3) | =SUM(C2:C3) | =SUM(D2:D3) | =SUM(E2:E3) | =SUM(F2:F3) |

The
above shows the text that should be entered in the "cells" in Excel in
order to make them into formulas, which will be converted to the full
result as soon as Enter is pressed. So where do the B2 and E2 parts fit
in ?

The
example shown here has the formula results evaluated. The
important thing is that the column and row headings for each cell are
shown here, in the same way that you would see them in Excel. Each cell
is referred to by their combination of row and column headings. So the
cell reference for the cell containing "Apples" is A2.

When
we want to add the totals for quarter 1, we say we want the results of
the sum of cells B2 and B3. If we want the total for Apples, then we
want the totals of cells B2, C2, D2, and E2, or everything from cells
B2 to E2. Excel lets you write the sum in either way. As long as the
text is prefixed by = then Excel will know that it's a formula, and
should work it out for you.

A
simpler way for us to enter the function is to place the cursor in the
cell where you want to place the function, and click on the
button. Excel looks to see what data is located around that cell, and
automatically puts the reference in for you. Of course, you can edit
the cell references and choose to add more or less as you need.

So here I've just got a few values to sum, and I could have calculated these values in my head. If I was talking about hundreds of different types of fruit, and talking about every week in a year, then this would save me a lot more time. I could also add to this over time, I could use a different formula instead of SUM. For example, I could type AVERAGE instead. How many other types of formula could I use instead of SUM or AVERAGE ? Hundreds.

So here I've just got a few values to sum, and I could have calculated these values in my head. If I was talking about hundreds of different types of fruit, and talking about every week in a year, then this would save me a lot more time. I could also add to this over time, I could use a different formula instead of SUM. For example, I could type AVERAGE instead. How many other types of formula could I use instead of SUM or AVERAGE ? Hundreds.