Unit 2: Basic Commands and Functions
We use spreadsheets to organize large amounts of data to perform calculations, and we often need to present our data in tables or graphs. In this unit, we will explore how to enter data and format it, and how to create and use formulas to manipulate data.
You should think about your spreadsheet as a presentation for an audience, whether that audience is your boss, your colleagues, or even yourself. Your data will often be more understandable and easier to manipulate with formulas when the data is organized and makes sense.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- use functions to sort data in a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet;
- perform basic calculations in Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division;
- create tables and graphs for your data in a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet;
- format spreadsheets including adjusting column width, adding and deleting columns;
- copy and paste data in a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet; and
- insert notes or comments appropriately in a Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet;
2.1: Formatting Data
We use spreadsheets to organize large amounts of data, to perform calculations, and to present data in the form of tables or graphs. Because of this, it is important to format the data in a spreadsheet clearly and for its intended purpose. This can involve sorting and editing data that is organized in columns and rows.
Read pages 1–6. The beginning of this article reviews the parts of a spreadsheet and how to enter data. Open your spreadsheet program and complete the tutorial from the beginning. Be sure to save your work, since we will keep working on this spreadsheet later. Pages 4–5 show how to edit data and format rows and columns.
When we format a spreadsheet, we sometimes also need to copy and paste data from different sources. Watch this video to see how data can be copied from a source and pasted into a spreadsheet.
Because spreadsheets often contain large amounts of data, it can be helpful to add notes or comments to your work. This is especially true for business applications where several people may use the same spreadsheet. This video explains the difference between notes and comments, and shows how to add them to your spreadsheet.
2.2: Using Spreadsheets to Create Simple Formulas
We use formulas to perform calculations on our data, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Read pages 7–8. Open the spreadsheet you started in the previous section and follow along using this tutorial. Here, we learn how to perform simple mathematical functions, and how to use autofill to easily perform a calculation on a large set of data. Save your work so you can use this spreadsheet again in the next section.
This article introduces spreadsheet functions. It also discusses some of the more complicated functions, such as calculating averages of sets of data. Open your spreadsheet program as you read this article so you can follow along and perform your own calculations with functions.
2.3: Creating Tables and Graphs of Data
One of the benefits of using spreadsheet software is that you can use tables and graphs to present large amounts of data. Tables and graphs communicate information better than a simple spreadsheet of data. When you think about how to present data, you must first determine the appropriate type of graph or table for the specific data you want to communicate. For example, a pie graph may be a good way to show demographics of a group of voters, but it would not be a good way to show a weather forecast.
Read the rest of this article, starting on page 9, to see how to create a graph from the data you used in the earlier parts of the tutorial and how to create an easy-to-read table of your data.
Watch these videos, which introduce the types of graphs and charts we can create in spreadsheet programs, such as bar graphs, pie graphs, scatter plots, and combinations of graphs.
Unit 2 Assessment
- Receive a grade
Take this assessment to see how well you understood this unit.
- This assessment does not count towards your grade. It is just for practice!
- You will see the correct answers when you submit your answers. Use this to help you study for the final exam!
- You can take this assessment as many times as you want, whenever you want.