A spreadsheet is just a fancy table that will do lots of calculations very quickly. The little rectangles you see in the table below are called cells. You can refer to a specific cell by using the letter of the column that it is in and the number of the row that it is in. For example, the word, radius, is in cell B4 (this is called a cell reference). If you want to fill a cell with a specific number you just click in the cell and type the number. If you want to type in a formula, and let the spreadsheet do some calculating, you click in the cell and type = followed by the expression you want to use. For example, if you want to calculate the area of a circle based on the radius in cell B5 you would click in cell C5 and type =(B5^2)*(22/7) (22/7 is a good approximation for pi, that's why it is used in the example). Rather than type in that formula over and over again in column C, you can use a command called "fill down" to save yourself some work. You can find that command in the Edit menu. To use it you must first select the cell with which you want to fill the rest of the column. The spreadsheet will know that you want the area in C7 to be based on the radius in B7 if you fill down!!
Pretty nice, eh!?
B |
C | |
4 |
radius |
area of circle |
5 |
||
6 |
||
7 |
||
8 |
So, now let's work on some problems that would be found in a typical first year calculus book. Don't worry, you don't need to know any calculus to solve these problems if you use a spreadsheet!!