It probably comes as no surprise that I have a thing for spreadsheets.
I mean… it’s literally in my business name. In fact, I got the idea for the business name because a friend once asked me, quite seriously, whether or not spreadsheets were my love language.
While that’s not actually true, even though I’m a creative at heart, I can get rather giddy over a beautifully designed spreadsheet — a trait I think I inherited from my dad, who builds spreadsheets of epic proportions. (Seriously. They’re amazing!)
Most of the creative industry, however, does not share my deep and abiding love for a gorgeous spreadsheet… but I’m on a mission to change that!
Prefer to listen instead of read? Scroll to the bottom for the audio version of this post!
Introducing Spreadsheets 101!
In this series, we’re diving into all sorts of things about spreadsheets from formatting and functions to cool hacks and some of my favorite features.
My goal is to show you that spreadsheets aren’t scary, but, in fact, are an amazing, super customizable, free tool you can use in so many ways in your life and business!
WHAT IS A SPREADSHEET?
Because I don’t want to make any assumptions, we are going to start with the basics, beginning, of course with what a spreadsheet is.
According to good ‘ole Merriam-Webster, a spreadsheet is “a computer program that allows the entry, calculation, and storage of data in columns and rows.”
Basically, instead of something like a Word or Google Doc, which has the default setting of text in a line-by-line format, a spreadsheet allows you to enter and view data in different columns and different rows.
It also allows you to manipulate that data through the use of formulas and calculations so you can do a ton of different things with it!
There are three main programs for the use of spreadsheets — Microsoft Excel, Numbers, and Google Sheets.
Microsoft Excel is the most well-known and the oldest of the programs, put out, of course, by Microsoft. Interestingly enough, it was first released for Mac (aka Apple) computers in 1985 and wasn’t available for PC computers until 1987.
Google Sheets is the spreadsheet software that’s part of the Google Drive suite of products, released for the first time in 2006. Numbers, the spreadsheet software developed by Apple, released one year later in 2007.
In the same way most people have their loyalties when it comes to all tech products and will vehemently argue about the merits of PCs vs. Macs, iPhones vs. Androids, and the like, most people have their preference when it comes to spreadsheet programs. But one of the really great things about spreadsheet programs is they all play nice with each other!
The features in each program aren’t exactly the same, so you may have to tweak things here and there, but in the same way that you can open up a Microsoft Word document in Google Docs or Pages, you can also open up a Numbers sheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
You also have the option to download a Google Sheets file as a Microsoft Excel file, and then open it up in Numbers, if necessary! (Unfortunately, you can’t download a Google Sheets file directly as a Numbers file.)
Truth be told, I’m pretty sure the limit to what spreadsheets can do is your own imagination.
Because of their calculation and data manipulation features, they are popular for use in reviewing and processing large amounts of data like analytics, statistics, or finances. When set up properly, a spreadsheet can save tons of time and effort in reviewing pieces of information about your company’s finances, sources of leads, profitable services, and more. (Don’t worry, we’ll dive into those things later.)
But beyond the most common spreadsheet uses, because you can do things like remove gridlines, merge cells, and more, you can manipulate a spreadsheet to do a ton of different things!
You can use them to track clients or customers, plan your content, plan and manage an event, track your reading, track tasks, track your spending habits overall or in a particular category… the options are pretty much endless!
I know at first glance spreadsheets can be pretty intimidating — even more intimidating than a blank document when you’re trying to write a blog post!
While it might be overwhelming when you think about setting up formulas and variables and formatting and such, a little knowledge can go a long way in really putting this incredible tool to work in your business!