Re: For the love of spreadsheets

Subject: Re: For the love of spreadsheets
From: Steven Jong <stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L Digest <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2016 22:20:22 -0400

I will speak for the spreadsheet.

Spreadsheet programs handle text quite reasonably, including spellchecking and font control. Even assuming youâre only entering text, a spreadsheet program is an effective tool for making tables of unlimited size. You can swap and move rows and columns, span cells horizontally and vertically, make non-scrolling headers, and organize rows into levels as with an outliner. Each of these things is as difficult or more difficult to do in a word processor.

The size issue is significant. Yes, you can make a table in a word processor, but itâs tied to the page layout; after three or four columns you become acutely aware that youâre running out of space on the page, and if you have to keep going you have to set the page to landscape, reduce the margins, reduce the font size, and otherwise futz around. A spreadsheet doesnât care how many columns (or rows!) youâre adding, and doesnât restrict you at all. Also, you can scroll around to your heartâs content. Documents with very complex tables are just easier to deal with as spreadsheets. If you do want to format things, itâs at least as easy to resize rows and columns in a spreadsheet as it is in a word-processing app; and Iâd say itâs easier to rule tables.

Once you get the hang of it, moving rows and columns, as well as spanning cells, is equally easy with both tools.

You can freeze rows or columns to make vertical or horizontal headers. (Itâs a bit tricky, but I figured it out easily enough.)

When we were putting together certification, our consultant took notes during lively discussions using a spreadsheet. He organized comments into an outline by dragging rows one or two cells over, a use Iâd never seen before that worked capitally. He was a lousy typist but he kept up with us.

Beyond its use for tables, if youâre collecting data records from a file, a spreadsheet is the preferred format to receive it. Any task that involves counting, summing, or sorting rows is also a candidate for a spreadsheet.

Finally, spreadsheet programs (OK, Excel) are solid and reliable, unlike some word processors I could name where youâre never quite sure you can trust them (OK, it).

â Steve

Steven Jong
mailto:SteveFJong -at- comcast -dot- net
Mobile: 978-413-2553
Home sweet home page:

âReading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.ââFrancis Bacon

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