Lucille Rose June 11, 2021 Spreadsheet
When Microsoft Excel is used to manipulate, store and analyse data it can become extremely difficult to manage, let alone efficiently work to produce any meaningful insights. This is because with data sets large and small, the data must be meaningful, logical, structured, internally consistent and clean. This holds true regardless of whether the data has been imported into excel from another system or manually entered. In this computing age, most people know that for any data set to be useable it must first be relatively structured and clean. A spreadsheet and its table layout naturally encourages data to be somewhat structured, however ensuring data is clean is also difficult.
Here‘s a very simple budget set up. Keep a simple income spreadsheet. List all the sources by name in column A. List how much each brings in in column B. And then, any notes you have for the income (like if it is temporary) in column C. You don‘t need to get very detailed with the income, because it only needs to be accounted for so that we can budget for it‘s use. And, the incomes use is in our expenses spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will be much more complex than the income one. You‘ll need a field for income that you carry over from the income sheet. You‘ll also need a field for a total expenses budgeted for. A third field will give us the budget surplus. We get that by subtracting the budgeted amounts from the income amount. A final field will subtract the actual amount spent from the income, and will serve to tell us where we stand in our budget. If you like, you can add another field that subtracts the actual amount spent from the amount budgeted.
Spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel are well suited to tasks involving the manipulation of small amounts of related data. Working out a budget, producing visual reports, organizing lists and calculations that involve many variables are all tasks well suited to a spreadsheet. There are some data related tasks however that spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel are not suited for. Tasks involving the processing and combination of large sets of data for example are generally not well suited to spreadsheets. There is another technology with a long history and theoretical background that specializes in these sorts of tasks. That technology is relational databases. The most common way people insert data into and extract data from relational databases is via the language of Structured Query Language.
One of the topics I cover on my Advanced Excel courses is hardly ‘advanced‘ at all, but it is a very useful and popular technique with my students. It makes use of the OLE capability to create invoices by embedding Excel data. First you need to create an Excel spreadsheet and format it in an appropriate manner, keeping in mind that this will form the basic structure of your invoice and will eventually be seen by your clients. You don‘t include any Company contact details or logos in the spreadsheet though as these will be incorporated into the Word document. The next step is to lay out the invoice itself in a Word document, based upon your normal Company letterhead. Leave the main body of the document empty as this is where the Excel spreadsheet will be embedded. All you need in this master Word document is your usual Company branding and contact information.
Templates are spreadsheets that are pre-formatted with text, colors, and/or formulas. They can be used to save you time and effort. Sometimes you are using a workbook as a template and don‘t even realize it. By this I mean you have a spreadsheet that you use daily, weekly or monthly. You may have to modify a few cells but the remainder of the spreadsheet is exactly the way you want it. It may be tedious to modify the cells but it is easier than recreating it from scratch. Guess what, you have the basis of a template!
Structured Query Language, often referred to as SQL, is a grammar of instructions that allows us to tell a relational database to add, modify or delete data. The key benefit, pardon the pun, of SQL is that it allows us to craft instructions relating large sets of data together. In this way SQL is the natural complement to the single cell and formula based interface of spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel. Imagine you had five hundred appointments from your business calendar laid out in a table. Each appointment might have a day, time, location and description. Now imagine you also had five hundred appointments from your partners business calendar, also each having a day, time, location and description.
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