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An electronic spreadsheet is a computer program that is used for storing, organizing and manipulating data.

### Data Types, Formulas, and Functions

The types of data that a cell can hold include numbers, text or formulas. Just as in math class, formulas are used for calculations – usually involving data contained in other cells. An electronic spreadsheet includes a number of built in formulas used for common tasks known as functions.

### Storing Financial Data in a Spreadsheet

A spreadsheet is often used to store financial data. Formulas and functions that can be used on financial data include:

• Performing basic mathematical operations such as summing columns and rows of figures.

• Finding values such as profit or loss.

• Calculating repayment plans for loans or mortgages.

• Finding the average, maximum, or minimum values in a specified range of data.

### Spreadsheet Cells and Cell References

When you look at a spreadsheet screen (refer to the example on this page) you see a rectangular table or grid of rows and columns. The horizontal rows are identified by numbers (1,2,3;) and the vertical columns with letters of the alphabet (A,B,C;). For columns beyond 26, columns are identified by two or more letters such as AA, AB, AC.

The intersection point between a column and a row is a small rectangular box known as a cell. A cell is the basic unit for storing data in the spreadsheet. Because a spreadsheet contains thousands of these cells, each is given a cell reference or cell address to identify it.

The cell reference is a combination of the column letter and the row number such as A3, B6, AA345.

### Other Uses for an Electronic Spreadsheet

Other common operations that a spreadsheet can be used for include:

• graphing or charting data to assist users in identifying data trends.

• sorting and filtering data to find specific information.

Information stored in a spreadsheet can also be incorporated into electronic presentations, web pages, or printed off in report form.

### The Original "Killer App"

Spreadsheets were the original killer apps for personal computers. Early spreadsheet programs, such as VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3, were largely responsible for the growth in popularity of computers like the Apple II and the IBM PC as a business tool.

Ted French