Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
Page Course Terms of Use
Unit 1: Getting Started with Spreadsheets Page Unit 1 Learning Outcomes
1.1.1: Cells, Rows, and Columns URL Paul Morris' "Parts of a Spreadsheet"

What is a spreadsheet? In this reading, you will examine the basic building blocks of a spreadsheet. As you read, try to answer the following questions: What is the difference between a row and a column? Which is identified by a number, and which is identified by a letter? How are cells formed?

Examine and memorize the definitions of cells, rows, and columns below and see examples of each.

The first image is an example of a CELL. The highlighted rectangle with the number 215 is called B1, because on the grid it is the precise location of where column B meets row 1.

Image shows a segment of an Excel worksheet to demonstrate a cell

The second image is an example of a ROW. The numbers 734, 238, and 159 are entered in row 1.

Image shows a segment of an Excel worksheet to demonstrate a row

The third image is an example of a COLUMN. The numbers 145, 657, and 987 are entered in column A.

Image shows a segment of an Excel worksheet to demonstrate a column

1.1.2: Sheets and Workbooks Page "Excel 2013 - Basic"

Read this article to learn how to use Excel to create a new spreadsheet, enter data, format numbers, create tables and calculations, and save your spreadsheet. Worksheets, also called sheets, are the workspaces on your screen that open when you start Excel. One or more worksheets makes a workbook. A worksheet may vary in size depending on your settings and screen, but it is totally adjustable, as you will learn.

When you have finished reading, try practicing what you learned! Open Excel, create a new spreadsheet, and enter in data. Don't worry if you are unfamiliar with how to organize data. You'll learn more about that in the next lesson. For now, enter in a list of numbers, then click on the Autosum icon. Now, change the format of the numbers to currency. What happens? If you want an extra challenge, try creating a table.

If you do not have Excel installed on your computer, you can download a free one-month trial here:

1.2.1: The Family Budget Page Ryan Lowe's "Excel Family Budget: Excel as a Planning Tool"

Read the following text and view the video tutorial, "Excel Family Budget." Also download the sample file if you find it helpful.

The image below is a simplified example of a family budget through August. Each column (vertical) represents an entire month. Each row (horizontal) represents an expense in the budget. Notice there are repeated expenses that are the same for each month, but the vacation expense is entered in only one month. Also, some expenses may vary, as indicated with the Heat-A/C. The bottom line is the total for each month.

In the example, what do you notice about the first column and first row? Look at cell D4. What does this number represent?

Image shows a sample budget for the months of January through August with categories such as Rent, Car, Heat/AC, etc.

1.2.2: The Work Estimate Page Work Estimate - Jack's Auto Repair

Here is another example of a spreadsheet used for financial data: This one is for a work estimate created for a customer by an employee of an auto repair shop. Look at the estimate closely. Notice that the data is organized in a way that allows the customer to quickly determine the number and types of repairs required, the estimated number of hours of work required for each repair, the price per hour for each repair, and the total cost of each repair and of all repairs.

Now that you have seen two examples of financial spreadsheets, try creating your own! Create a personal monthly budget. Start by determining the categories that your expenses fall under. Enter the months into the column headings and categories into the first row. Now fill in the amount spent per month in each category. Try using the AutoSum feature that you learned in subunit 1.1 to calculate the total expenses for each category and the total expenses per month. Change the number in one or two of the cells and notice what happens to the sum. Formulas can save us a lot of time and allow us to make changes to our data easily! You will learn about more formulas in the next unit. Make sure to save your budget with a file name you will recognize to a device you use frequently. If you do not have access to a device you use regularly, consider emailing your saved spreadsheet to yourself. You will revisit this file in Unit 3.

Can you think about other uses for spreadsheets? Are there any uses for spreadsheets that surprised you?

While this activity does not have a specific grading rubric, we do encourage you to post your response on Saylor's discussion forums, along with a note asking for feedback from the community. Make sure to include the activity prompt/instructions, as well as you own personal notes for what you would like others to focus their attention on when peer reviewing, so that you can get the most helpful feedback possible.

While there, you should reply to your classmates' posts as well, especially on those topics that you feel you have already mastered.

Note: You will need to create an account at to participate in the forum. Signing up is free and only takes a moment.

Unit 2: The Composition of a Spreadsheet Page Unit 2 Learning Outcomes
2.1: Formatting Data and Using Functions File Project for Pride in Living : "Basic-Level Features of Excel 2013"

In this subunit, you will learn how to format worksheets, sort data, create tables and graphs to illustrate data, and use formulas to perform basic calculations in Excel. Open a new Excel file and practice formatting worksheets, editing data, and using simple formulas as suggested in the reading. Notice how using formulas saves a lot of time! Practice using the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division formulas described in this lesson.

2.2: Cells Love Data and Simple Formulas URL Using Formulas to Recreate a Worksheet

Now that you have learned how to enter formulas in Excel, practice using them to calculate simple addition. Open the file and follow the directions. You will learn how to perform more calculations using Excel formulas in the next unit.

Unit 3: Spreadsheet Design and Implementation Page Unit 3 Learning Outcomes
3.2: Putting the Fun in Functions Page "Functions Basic - Excel 2013"

By now you should know how to use Excel to enter, edit, and organize data, create tables, and perform basic calculations using formulas. The preset formulas in Excel are called functions. Functions can be used for more than just simple calculations. Read this article to learn how to enter a formula, insert functions, and copy and paste the formulas. Excel functions can be used for more than just performing calculations.

Page Excel Data Pro: "Common Excel Functions"

Glance at this glossary of to discover other functions available in Excel. Test a few of these out in an Excel worksheet. Notice that when you enter "=" and a letter, a list of possible functions will appear.

3.3: Organization Is Key Page jad j: "Formatting Your Worksheet"

Sometimes, when you first enter data into Excel, it can be difficult to read. Watch this video to learn how to organize and format data so that it is easy to work with and understand. After watching the video, go back to the budget you created in Unit 1. If you have not already done the guided practice for creating a budget in subunit 1.2.2, do it now.

Practice formatting the cells to make the data in your budget easier to read. You can resize cells, edit fonts, or even add colors. Make sure all of your columns and rows are labeled and easy to understand. Remember that someone viewing a spreadsheet needs to be able to look at it and understand the data. Is there anything else that you can change to make the budget more readable for the viewer?

Optional Course Evaluation Survey URL Optional Course Evaluation Survey

Please take a few moments to provide some feedback about this course. Consider completing the survey whether you have completed the course, you are nearly at that point, or you have just come to study one unit or a few units of this course.

Your feedback will focus our efforts to continually improve our course design, content, technology, and general ease-of-use. Additionally, your input will be considered alongside our consulting professors' evaluation of the course during its next round of peer review. As always, please report urgent course experience concerns to [email protected] and/or our discussion forums.