10 Ways to Use Spreadsheets Properly - A Beginner's Guide to Getting Started
Are you struggling to store and manage your business data? If yes, now might be the time to learn Excel spreadsheets! This detailed guide will teach you what an Excel spreadsheet is, its importance in businesses and How to use spreadsheets in Excel efficiently.
You might have already heard that spreadsheets are widely used tools for analysing data. They allow you to organise information in a way that makes sense to you and helps you analyse trends.
Excel spreadsheets are the best way to start building your knowledge of data analysis. You'll be able to manage your data easily once you become comfortable with them.
To start with, let's understand what a spreadsheet is and what is the use of spreadsheets in detail.
What Is Excel Spreadsheet?
Spreadsheets contain cells arranged in rows and columns. Each cell has a numerical or text value. Users can enter data into these cells and then use formulas to perform various operations.
This powerful tool also allows you to organise data into graphs and charts. As a result, people use it widely in finance, accounting, marketing, and many other fields.
You can use Spreadsheets for both personal and business purposes. In addition, they are instrumental in doing tasks such as budgeting, forecasting, and analysing data.
Importance Of Spreadsheets
As mentioned above, Excel spreadsheets are an essential business and accounting tool. Even though they have many benefits, the primary purpose is to organise and categorise data into a logical format. The following are the significant uses of spreadsheet programs:
- Business Data Storage: An Excel spreadsheet is ideal for storing all kinds of business data. They take very little memory and let you keep tons of financial data, customer data, product data, etc., and you can access them anytime. Moreover, you can also search and find any data using the file name and the data they contain.
- Finance and Accounting: Whenever you walk through any company's finance or accounting department, you will see computers filled with Excel spreadsheets! It is because spreadsheets offer a range of formulas and functions which can easily do all your business calculations within minutes. Of course, you must enter the data and processes correctly; your spreadsheet will automatically do the maths.
- Visualizing Data Graphically: Sometimes the data arranged in rows and columns may be challenging to interpret. Fortunately, the spreadsheet offers data visualisations like pie diagrams, bar diagrams, scatter diagrams, etc., to understand easily.
- Task Management: Even though the features are limited, teams use spreadsheets for task management. Project managers can easily assign tasks to the team members and deadlines using an Excel spreadsheet. Moreover, employees can easily understand their functions from the spreadsheet.
- Budgeting: Budgeting is one of the best and most common uses for Excel spreadsheets. With a layout consisting of rows and columns, you can easily keep track of your income and expenditure without fail. Moreover, you can also add custom budget categories and share the data with decision-makers in a precise format.
10 ways to use and organise your spreadsheet in excel
As you know, an Excel spreadsheet has several features that help you organise your data efficiently. But do you know how to use them correctly?
Here's a list of 10 ways to organise your spreadsheet in Excel.
- Be Consistent: Consistency is the key to organising your Excel spreadsheet. It would help if you always tried to keep the same pattern while naming the files or entering data into the spreadsheet. For example, when entering the gender, always use "male" and "female." Do not use "M," sometimes "Male", and sometimes "male."
Similarly, while naming the files, always use the same style. So, for example, if one file is named "Project1_11-10-2022," then the following project file should be called "Project2_11-10-2022" and not "2project_11-10-2022."
- Use Proper Names: It would be best if you were careful while naming your Excel spreadsheet so all team members can easily find their required files. You should avoid using spaces while naming the file since it makes programming harder. For example, the file "Project_K_2022" is easier to find than "Project K 2022." You can use underscores and hyphens, but do not use other special characters.
- Avoid Empty Cells: Empty cells always confuse whether the data is missing or unintentionally left blank. So always use a standard code like "NA" for missing data, and do not leave any cell blank.
- One Item Per Cell: We always recommend you use only one piece of data per cell. For example, if you have the number of hours worked by each employee per day, instead of writing "8 hours" in a single cell, try using a separate column for hours and minutes.
- Make It A Rectangle: A single rectangular shape is the best layout for your Excel spreadsheet. You can use the rows corresponding to subjects and columns corresponding to the variables. Always remember not to use more than one row for the variable names. If your data do not fit into a single rectangle, you can use a set of rectangles to make a set of Excel files.
- Keep A Data Dictionary: A data dictionary is a separate file that explains details about the variables. For example, it may contain information such as a further explanation of data variables, measurement units, minimum and maximum values, etc. Data dictionaries can be handy for data analysts while analysing data.
- Always Keep A Backup: Don't forget to regularly back up your data in multiple locations. Also, keep all versions of the data files so that even if someone accidentally erased some of the data, you will be able to recover it. So always keep a copy of the file with a new version number before you make any changes.
- Avoid Using Font Colour or Highlighting as Data: Users always highlight particular cells or change font colours with a specific meaning. So instead, you can add a separate column with an indicator variable. So, for example, you can use a separate column to mark the attendance of employees and type "Present" or "Absent" rather than changing the font of their names to different colours like green for "Present," red for "Absent," etc.
- Use Data Validation to Avoid Errors: You can get help from the "data validation" feature in the Excel spreadsheet to eliminate errors. This feature helps you control the type of data or values you enter into a cell. For example, you can choose from a whole number, decimal, date, time etc., as a validation criterion for a particular column. Any value entered other than validation criteria will alert you as an error.
- No Calculations in the Raw Data Files: Don't add calculations or graphs to your primary data file if you want to keep it precise, safe and well-organised! Otherwise, when you regularly open it and start doing calculations, there is a high chance of typing junk into the data file. So if you want to do maths and analysis, make a copy of the file and do your work there.
10 Basic Excel Formulas In Excel
Here's a list of the top 10 basic Excel formulas that everyone should know.
1) SUM Function
The SUM Function adds values.
Formula: = SUM(number1, number2, ...)
2) COUNT Function
The COUNT function will count the number of cells that contain numbers.
Formula: = COUNT(value1, value2, ...)
3) COUNTA Function
The COUNTA function will count the number of cells that contain any data.
Formula: = COUNTA(value1, value2, ...)
4) AVERAGE Function
Use the AVERAGE function to get the value average in one or more cells or ranges.
Formula: = AVERAGE(number1, number2, ...)
5) LEN Function
The LEN formula counts the number of characters in a cell, including spaces.
Formula: = LEN(value1)
6) TRIM Function
Use the TRIM function to remove extra spaces in a cell.
Formula: = TRIM(text)
7) IF Statements
'IF' Statements will tell you if the cell meets a specific condition. For example, you can use IF statements if you want to know which values in a particular column are more significant than a number, say, 3.
Formula: = IF(A2>=3, “Yes”, “No”)
8) MIN and MAX Functions
The MAX and MIN functions will help you find the largest and smallest values from a set of numbers, respectively.
Formula: = MAX(number1, number2, ...)
Formula: = MIN(number1, number2, ...)
9) CONCATENATE Function
The CONCATENATE formula takes values from multiple cells and combines them into the same cell.
Formula: = CONCATENATE(value1, value2, ...)
10) LEFT, RIGHT and MID Functions
Use the RIGHT, LEFT, and MID functions to return the specified number of characters from a text string.
Formula: = LEFT(text, [num_chars])
Formula: = RIGHT(text, [num_chars])
Formula: = MID(text, start_num, num_chars)
It's worth learning how to use spreadsheets properly. Even though we have already discussed the uses of spreadsheet programs, it is worth repeating. Excel spreadsheets help freelancers and businesses enter, organise, and store data. But, if you're looking for something more than a spreadsheet like a project management tool, Excel may not be sufficient.
Luckily, many spreadsheet software programs are in the market to ease your job.
Retable is a powerful tool with loads of features and collaboration facilities. Moreover, Retable is easy to use, customizable and affordable to all companies.
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