Google Drive Tutorial (Part 5): Google Spreadsheets

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Google Drive Tutorial

I sincerely appreciate that you have yet again returned to this tutorial to read about Google Drive and its contents.  I am glad to be back to write more about this wonderful tool and I hope that you find it at least as useful as Part 4 in the series.

As a refresher from two weeks prior, we covered Google Docs or the web-equivalent to Microsoft Word.  In this section of the tutorial, I will again cover examples and step-by-step instructions on some of the basic uses of Google Spreadsheets. By now I hope that you have had a chance to test out the tools.  In fact, it would not surprize me in the least if some of you are already ahead of me, having tested out Spreadsheets on your own.  You will come to find that the programs offered by Google are actually quite simple and similar to each other.

In this section, I will reference Microsoft Office as a familiar perspective for many of you to compare one program to the other.  Google Spreadsheets does not have anywhere near the full functionality or depth that Microsoft Excel offers, but at a minimum may suffice for many projects.  At the very least the biggest advantage comes in the ability to share and collaborate in real-time on these documents.

Google Spreadsheets

Personally, I use the programs in Google Drive almost exclusively to any other online document management tool.  As an engineer, I have used spreadsheets hundreds of times for a wide variety of purposes.  Although I rarely use Google Spreadsheets in my blog work, I rely heavily on it for my finances and tracking all-manner of inventory and personnel data.   A spreadsheet will never best a well-written and maintained database, but it works wonders for an individual whose needs are small by comparison.

Menu Items

In a very recent update, Google unified the menu items on all Google Drive programs.  Therefore we will not be covering the menu items in this section.  But for your reference these items can always be found in Part 4.

Sharing

By now I hope you have had a chance to check out the “sharing” aspect of Google Drive’s programs, as it is an integral part of the ideal.  Again we will not be covering “Sharing” as it is covered in more detail both in Part 4.

The Spreadsheet

At the bare minimum, I hope that you at least have a concept of the “Spreadsheet”.  But I realize that this may be the first time that some of you may have considered using a spreadsheet, so I will explain.

A spreadsheet is a grid of columns and rows that may be manipulated and used in calculations.

Ah, but what of the uses for such a tool?  At the very least a good example of a spreadsheet is in tracking inventory.  Let’s say, for example, the inventory that you would like to track is the contents of the bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter.  The bowl has 10 fruits, 2 bananas, 3 apples, 2 oranges, 2 plums, and 1 pear.

Fruit Type

Count

Apple

3

Banana

2

Orange

2

Pear

1

Plum

2

The table above is representative of the items listed and their count.  The table is quite simple in that it merely lists the fruits and their count, but strays far from the capabilities of a spreadsheet.  In a spreadsheet it is possible to sort each column A to Z or Z to A, including chronologically or reverse chronologically. Or it is possible to tally the count of the fruits either by type or by total count.

These actions can be made in several ways.  At the top cell of any column, if you hover the mouse for a moment, a tiny box with an arrow pointing down, appears.  This is actually a pull-down menu.  The menu lists many things, one of which is a sort feature, for forward or reverse.  Counting the total number of items in a list or tallying the list is bit more complex.  But at the very least you can see the tally merely by highlighting the entire row or column of numbers.  The display will be in the lower, right-hand corner of the window.

Formulas

Another common use for a spreadsheet is to track finances.  In the following example I will show value of the “SUM” formula, by tallying the total values of five priced items.  I will also demonstrate basic multiplication.

Item

Count

Price

Total

Apple

3

$0.25

$0.75

Banana

2

$0.30

$0.60

Orange

2

$0.26

$0.52

Pear

1

$0.20

$0.20

Plum

2

$0.40

$0.80

10

$4.22

The SUM function takes all the values in a row or column and adds them together.  In the actual spreadsheet you can select the first value and drag the cursor across all the remaining values to complete the list for the function. In the space where the value of “10” is shown, the function looks like

 =SUM(StartColumnRow: EndColumnRow) or as in Microsoft Excel  =SUM(B2:B6)

 

The multiplication function is the asterix on the keyboard. In the cell beneath the world “Total”, the function will be

=B2*C2

The value in cell B2 is 3 and the value in C2 is $0.25, therefore the equation is 3*$0.25, which equals $0.75.  And just like in the summary of the Count values, the function for the 4th column should look like

=SUM(D2:D6)

There is only so much that is realistically possible, not only in these few sets of examples, but in the Google Spreadsheets program.  I will likely, in the future provide a great deal more examples, both textually, and via a video explanation.  But for now I hope that these two examples are enough to help you get started in using Google Spreadsheets.

With this short tutorial, you may still have questions and I am ready to help you with whatever you may need on this topic.  If you still feel that the explanation above is too vague or complex, please do not hesitate to send me an email wes@tekhandy.com and I will be glad to explain further.  Be sure to check out the Glossary for new terms from this, and every article on www.TekHandy.com

Have a Great Friday and weekend

– Wes


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