Microsoft Excel, as you probably know, is the world’s most widely used spreadsheet program, and is part of the Microsoft Office suite. Other spreadsheet programs are available, but Excel is by far the most popular and has become the world standard.
Much of the appeal of Excel is due to the fact that it’s so versatile. Excel’s forte, of course, is performing numerical calculations, but Excel is also very useful for non-numeric applications.
What Is Microsoft Excel Good For?
Here are just a few of the uses for Microsoft Excel:
- Number crunching: Create budgets, analyze survey results, and perform just about any type of financial analysis you can think of.
- Creating charts: Create a wide variety of highly customizable charts to assist users in identifying data trends.
- Organizing lists: Use the row-and-column layout to store lists efficiently.
- Accessing other data: Import data from a wide variety of sources.
- Creating graphical dashboards: Summarize a large amount of business information in a concise format.
- Creating graphics and diagrams: Use Shapes and the new SmartArt to create professional-looking diagrams.
- Automating complex tasks: Perform a tedious task with a single mouse click with Excel’s macro capabilities.
- Budgets: Excel helps maintain budgets. The format of Excel lends itself to budgets, as users can type in the name of expenses and their costs, plus any other variables they would like to include such as dates, payments made and payments to be made in the future. The mathematical functions are useful in adding totals or subtracting spent money. The budgets are practical for families, businesses and party-planning expenditures.
- A Teacher's Grade Books: recording grades is simple with the structure of Excel, as student's names can be lined up with their grades for assignments throughout the semester. Excel also has functions that help determine other important components. Teachers use the average function to establish the average class score, the median score to show what grade lies exactly in the middle and the mode function to figure out what the most common score was.
- Complex Functions: Excel performs hundreds of tasks, including calculations with pi. While Microsoft Excel is capable of performing simple math, the program has can perform more than 200 complex formulas, including computing strings of numbers, statistics, dates and times and conversions. For example, Excel can calculate the sin, cosine and tangent of angles. Excel also calculates pi to 14 digits after the decimal, so users who need to calculate with that number can get a fairly accurate answer.
- Create Graphs: Whether for class assignments or a business project, users input information into cells and then highlight specifically what they want to appear in the graph. A number of graphing options exist, including columns, bars, lines, pie charts, area, radar and surface. All of the graphs are color coded for easy viewing and accessibility.
- Mail Merge: Excel quickly creates addresses for multiple envelopes. Practical for large business mailings as well as party invitations, Excel's mail merge feature allows for the easy creation of labels. Users insert the recipients' names and addresses into the cells and select Mail Merge Wizard in the "Tools" menu. Hundreds of addresses can be put together in the appropriate form for envelopes. Users can also choose to have specific addresses print.
What Is Microsoft Excel not Good For?
Excel Is NOT a Database! It’s never been a database. It never will be a database.
If you use excel spreadsheet as a database, and a year or three later, you are still using that spreadsheet, only it’s grown to 100,000 rows and takes 5 minutes to open it. Unless you’re intending this spreadsheet to be a list of your 50 or so employees with phone numbers, you’re probably better off with a spreadsheet. Best practice is store your data in Microsoft Access and connect to it from Excel, you will gain the benefits of both.
why you should use a database to store data and not a spreadsheet:
- Data recovery is more efficient.
- Queries, and the reports based on those queries, are easier to write and run.
- A database stores information more efficiently.
- More than one person can update a database at a time.