A spreadsheet is a sheet of paper that shows accounting or other data in rows and columns; a spreadsheet is also a computer application programme that simulates a physical spreadsheet by capturing, displaying, and manipulating data arranged in rows and columns.

In a spreadsheet, spaces that hold items of data are called cells. Each cell is labeled according to its placement (for example, A1, A2, A3…) and may have an absolute or relative reference to the cells around it. A spreadsheet is generally designed to hold numerical data and short text strings. Spreadsheets usually provide the ability to portray data relationships graphically. Spreadsheets generally do not offer the ability to structure and label data items as fully as a database and usually do not offer the ability to query the database. In general, a spreadsheet is a much simpler program than a database program.

Spreadsheets are an essential business and accounting tool. They can vary in complexity and can be used for various reasons, but their primary purpose is to organize and categorize data into a logical format. Once this data is entered into the spreadsheet, you can use it to help organize and grow your business


Below are five features you should be using – if you aren’t already. Learn everything about these tips: they will improve your spreadsheet skills and allow you to successfully organise your data to your satisfaction.

1) Pivot Tables

PivotTables summarise large amounts of Excel data from a database that is formatted where the first row contains headings and the other rows contain categories or values. The way the data is summarised is flexible but usually the Pivot Table will contain values summed over some or all of the categories.

If you’re new to creating PivotTables, Excel 2013 can analyze your data and recommend a PivotTable for you. Once you’re comfortable with PivotTables you can start from scratch and create your own.

To create a Pivot Table, make sure your data has column headings or table headers and that there are no blank rows. Click any cell in the range of cells or table.

INSERT > Tables > Recommended PivotTables

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In the Recommended PivotTables dialogue box that launched, click any Pivot Table layout to get a preview then select the one that works best for you and click OK.

Excel will provide a selection of recommended PivotTables for your data. Excel then places the PivotTable on a new worksheet and shows the field list so that you can rearrange the data to best suit your needs. Again, make sure your data has column headings or table headers and no blank rows.

2) Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting, as its name suggests, changes the format of a cell dependent on the content of the cell, or a range of cells, or another cell or cells in the workbook. Conditional formatting helps users to quickly focus on important aspects of a spreadsheet or to highlight errors and to identify important patterns in data.

Conditional formats can apply basic font and cell formatting such as number format, font colour and other font attributes, cell borders and cell fill colour. In addition, there is a range of graphical conditional formats that helps with visualising data by using icon sets, colour scales, or data bars.

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The chosen conditional format is applied to a cell based on a condition you set or a condition that Excel generates by comparing the values of cells in a range. So, for example, in a list of staff salaries, a conditional format could be applied to any salaries greater than a certain amount, any employees who joined before a specific date, or any employees with a specific name. The graphical conditional formats would be applied to the column of salaries and would, by default, be based on an analysis of the highest and lowest values in the list but this can be overridden if required.

Conditional formats can be applied very simply and quickly just to highlight certain cells or can be used in much more complicated and imaginative ways to show values graphically or automate the formatting of a spreadsheet.

3) Sorting and Filtering

Excel spreadsheets help us make sense of large amounts of data. To make it easier to find what you need, you can reorder the data or pick out just the data you need, based on parameters you set within Excel. Sorting and filtering your data will save you time and make your spreadsheet more effective.

Suppose you have a list of hundreds of records including dates, ages, names, cities, and more. You can quickly organize the data to best suit your needs using Excel’s sort and filter features.

When you sort information in a worksheet, you can quickly organize the data and find values quickly. You can sort an entire worksheet or a range or table of data. Sorting can be done by one or more columns.

Let’s suppose you are a teacher and your class recently scored the following on a test:

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You could sort on first name (alphabetically), second name (alphabetically) or by the test score (numerically). In any of these cases, you would want the entire row to move together, so Jane Smith doesn’t become Jane Mawer. Let’s say you want to sort by the test scores, highest to lowest.

4) Basic Math

At the heart of any Excel spreadsheet are the numbers within the data. Using basic math functions to manipulate those numbers is one of the features that makes Excel so powerful.

Simple calculations can be entered into the formula bar in Excel just as they would be written on paper. As with all formulae in Excel, start a calculation with the = sign.

You can type the calculation you want to perform directly into the cell or the formula bar and when you press Enter the answer will show in the cell.

Another option is to use multiple cells to construct the formulae, as we see here (where cell A1 (or 87) plus cell A2 (or 16) equals cell A3 (or 103)):

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In order to perform the basic mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division to produce numeric results we use the following arithmetic operators:

+ (plus sign) for addition

– (minus sign) for subtraction

* (asterisk) for multiplication

/ (forward slash) for division

Excel interprets the = (equals) sign as indicating a calculation is to be performed and calculates according to the operators indicated from left to right.

5) Mixed Type Charts

Mixed type or combo (combination) charts combine two styles of charts, such as Excel’s column chart and line chart. This format can be helpful for displaying two different types of information or a range of values that varies greatly.

For example, we can use a column chart to show the number of homes sold between June and December and a line chart to make it easier to identify the average sale price by month. To create this chart, highlight all the data and select the Insert Combo Chart option in the Charts group of the INSERT ribbon tab:

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Microsoft Excel is arguably the most complicated program out of the Microsoft Office family, but hopefully with the help of these key features (and our unique filter) you should be one step closer to becoming an Excel guru in the work place or at home.


Business Administrative Tasks

Use spreadsheets for the creation of receipts and invoices. You can also use it to do business related forecasts and plan ahead for the future.

These are some of the common purposes spreadsheets are used for, but there are additional ways you can utilize a spreadsheet to achieve your business goals. Configure them to your needs, and tap into all the ways you can use this simple yet effective tool.

Generating Reports and Charts

Use spreadsheets to report trends or make business forecasts. These reports can be made available to everyone at the company; they can take the time to analyze the data for themselves. It’s easy to make comparisons between sets of data. You can pivot tables to showcase particular aspects of your data as well, which is necessary when you’ve got huge amounts of data to sort through.

Data in a spreadsheet can be used to create charts that can then be used for reporting. You can create graphs and pie charts that condense the data in a format that’s easy to read at a glance. It’s a fantastic feature that can be great for business presentations that require you to showcase lots of data in a short time.

Assisting with Data Exports

Spreadsheets can be used to contain data that has been exported from other systems. Sometimes online data management systems don’t present data in a format that is easy to read, or it is difficult to access the data offline.

Data Sifting and Cleanup

Use your spreadsheets to identify inaccuracies and duplicates in your data. With a spreadsheet, it’s easy to get rid of unwanted or low quality data. This is especially necessary in relation to customer data, which you are required to keep up to date and accurate

Budgeting and Spending Help

Keep track of your business spending on a spreadsheet. You can create custom budget spreadsheets to manage your income and your expenditures so you don’t end up with any surprises when it’s time to file your tax return


1. They are readily available

For most businesses, spreadsheet software is readily available and often free. Whether your company uses Microsoft Office and can easily access Excel or runs on G-Suite where Google Sheets are readily available, most people with an internet connection can access a spreadsheet.

2. They require minimal training.

Whether you’ve used a spreadsheet to manage your personal finances, or have spent countless hours building pivot tables for previous roles, chances are you’ve had some hands-on experience using spreadsheets. Outside of building complicated formulas, recording information in spreadsheets is fairly intuitive and does not require intensive training to get the hang of. This makes spreadsheets an accessible option for teams that are scaling fast and don’t have time to train new employees to use complicated software.

While spreadsheets may be sufficient for startups in the very early stages, these advantages are often short-lived. Over time, spreadsheets can become more trouble than they’re worth.

Even for a small company, managing customer information through spreadsheets is at best unproductive and at worst downright dangerous for a variety of reasons. Now let’s discuss some of the disadvantages of using spreadsheets to track customer and contact information.


Reporting is painful.

It’s hard enough compiling all the various versions of a spreadsheet into one master copy, but then managers have to assemble meaningful reports based on the data. As anyone who has ever tried to report from Excel knows, it’s not for the faint of heart. And the more complex your data, the harder reporting becomes.

No easy data visualization.

Sure, users can create charts and graphs in spreadsheets. But “create” is the key word. Assembling any kind of data visualization in a spreadsheet is time-consuming and frustrating. Managers could opt to skip the visuals altogether — after all, they’re not necessary. But presenting a spreadsheet rows and rows long is guaranteed to make reps’ eyes cross.

Critical customer data is at nature’s mercy.

Data that lives solely on your company’s servers can be lost forever if a natural disaster strikes.

Data that lives solely on individual computers can be lost forever if your laptop takes a tumble or gets doused in coffee. Hey, life happens.

No connection with marketing systems.

Your company might not even have a marketing automation system in place. But if it does, and the sales side of the house is operating on spreadsheets, there’s bound to be crossed wires and miscommunication. A lack of integration means that customers and prospects might receive redundant information… or none at all. Neither of these scenarios translates into sales.

Managers can’t manage.

To effectively coach and mentor, sales managers need to have visibility into the daily actions and pipelines of their reps. Too bad this is all but impossible to do through spreadsheets. Both reps and managers will quickly become frustrated with the seemingly endless cycle of uploading, downloading, attaching, and emailing.

No mobile access.

Mobile access to sales systems has been proven to increase rep productivity — by as much as 24%, according to some estimations. But regardless of the other virtues of spreadsheets, they’re not exactly mobile-friendly. Dragging out a laptop each and every time you need to enter or change customer data gets old in a hurry.

Hard to scale.

Once your company — and your customer list — starts growing, sales spreadsheets will need to as well. However, the bigger the spreadsheet, the more likely it is to contain errors and broken formulas. Not to mention large spreadsheets are exponentially more unwieldy for users and administrators alike.

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Author: refuge_2020

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