This brief tutorial on spreadsheets is designed to cover just enough basics to get you up and running as quickly as possible. The instructions on the mechanics of working with a spreadsheet (opening, closing, moving the pointer, clicking, etc.) are peculiar to the Microsoft Excel version 5.0, but the basic principles should be the same for other versions of Microsoft Excel or even other brand names. It is not intended to be a userís guide nor a substitute for the documentation that accompanies the software.
A spreadsheet is a computer software package that allows one to enter, manipulate and maintain data on a grid-like sheet. Two of the advantages in setting up a spreadsheet rather than entering data onto a table on a sheet of paper are
The performance and review of iterative calculations can yield valuable insight into some of the mathematical principles of finance and data analysis. Often times, these calculations are so boring and time-consuming to do by hand that by the time the student is done, he has little energy nor inclination to think about what was revealed. A spreadsheet can take much of the drudgery out of these calculations and transform them into effective learning techniques. Also, the spreadsheet is a powerful real-world tool that can be put to immediate use at home or in a variety of business settings. Donít be surprised if a working knowledge of spreadsheets gives you a competitive edge in the job market!
To start, you only need to know where one is and how to activate it on a computer that you can use regularly throughout the semester (your instructor will discuss computer access). In order to get through the spreadsheet assignments in this class, you will eventually need to know how to:
The ideal way to begin with spreadsheets is to sit down at a computer with someone who has used one and do some basic operations together. Whether you can get help or not, put yourself through the following tutorial then for more information, consult the help menu that accompanies your spreadsheet software.
The Problem: We wish to create a spreadsheet that will give us the monthly balance and interest for a fictitious bank account over a two-year period. Before we open a new spreadsheet, we should think a bit about what type of data the spreadsheet should show.
Let's assume that the initial deposit is $10,000 and that the interest rate being paid by the bank is 8.5%, compounded monthly. We will need a column that shows the month (numerals 1 through 24), one that shows the balance at the beginning of the month, another for the interest earned, and one for the balance at the end of the month, which is the sum of the starting balance and the interest earned. The monthly interest, I, will be computed by the simple interest formula, I = Prt, where t is one month (1/12 of a year) and r is the interest rate in decimal form, .085. In all, we will have four columns.