A spreadsheet, also known as a worksheet, contains rows and columns and is used to record and compare numerical or financial data. Originally, they only existed in paper format, but now they are most likely created and maintained through a software program that displays the numerical information in rows and columns. Spreadsheets can be used in any area or field that works with numbers and are commonly found in the accounting, budgeting, sales forecasting, financial analysis, and scientific fields.
Computerized spreadsheets mimic their paper predecessors. The advantage of using computer programs is their ability to update data and perform automatic calculations extremely quickly. In the software, the intersection of a row and a column is called a cell. Rows are generally identified by numbers — 1, 2, 3, etc. — and columns are identified by letters, such as A, B, C, and so on. The cell is a combination of a letter and a number to identify a particular location within the sheet, such as A3.
To maneuver around the cells, the user uses the mouse or the tab key. When the contents of one cell are changed, any other affected cell is automatically recalculated according to the formulas in use. Formulas are the calculations to be performed on the data. They can be simple, such as sum or average, or they can be very complex. Spreadsheets are also popular for testing hypothetical scenarios.
Setting up a worksheet can be fairly time consuming, although templates and samples are available with most software packages. Software programs can be formatted with titles, colors, bold text, and italics for a professional look. Users can also create graphs and charts based on the data. Many packages have the ability to print mailing lists or labels as well.
The original spreadsheet software was VisiCalc, designed for use on Apple computers. Now, many commercial software packages are available for Microsoft Windows® and other operating systems.
Individuals, in addition to businesses, use this software for a variety of tasks that involve numerical data. Teachers can use them to store and average grades, while other individuals can use them to track a personal budget or store sports team statistics. Spreadsheets are one of the most popular uses for personal computers.