Ways to Use a Spreadsheet

You may not know it, but there are a lot of ways to use a spreadsheet. Using these tips, you may discover that you’ve been working a lot harder than you should be.

Use the Templates

Most spreadsheet programs have templates. These include sales invoices, timecards and loan amortization forms. You just open these documents and enter the data. When you’re done, save it under a different name. These documents save you time because you don’t have to format the file.

Note: it’s best to keep the original copy of the template. If you want to make changes (i.e., the font size or color) save the template under a different name.

Use it as a Database

A database is basically a list. It can be a list of your movie collection, shipping orders or clients. One of the best ways to use a spreadsheet is by turning it into a database program. Assume you want to make a list of your DVD collection.

Select a cell and type the film title. In the cells beside it, enter “genre”, “rating” (i.e., one to five stars), “leading actor”, director etc. These will be the fields. Color the cells to make
them more conspicuous.

Now type in the names, genres and other information in the cells below the headers. Use as many fields as possible. The more fields you enter, the more ways you’ll be able to sort out the data.

This isn’t just one of the most creative ways to use a spreadsheet. It also saves you money. Software companies sell separate database and spreadsheet programs. Unless your database needs are advanced, your spreadsheet program will do an adequate job.

Make Use of Macros

Macros are used for repetitive tasks. Suppose you format cells a certain way and enter the same formulas and calculations. By using a macro you can automate the task. Press play or record. Perform the tasks and click stop. Your actions are recorded. When you play the macro, it will do those tasks for you.

Note: make sure you perform the correct steps when using a macro as it will record everything you do in the program.

Other Ways to Use a Spreadsheet

These programs can do more than math. They can perform statistical analysis, show possible trends and resolve complex financial questions. Most of these applications come with chart wizards. You can use these to make data reading easier to understand.

You can use the program to make a budget record. Enter the electricity, water, insurance etc on one column. Input the costs in the adjacent cells. Use the program’s sum functions to make totals. Save this with a name like “Expenses for December 2009”. You’ll then be able to compare your monthly expenses with ease.

You can also use a spreadsheet with your word processor. Create the spreadsheet or chart and paste it in your word processor.

Whether you’re a bank executive or a housewife balancing the budget, knowing the different ways to use a spreadsheet can be helpful. It automates a lot of the calculations and makes finance management a little easier.