Common charts and graphs

“A picture is worth 1000 words”

For some reason, most people (myself included) can’t look at a whole lot of numbers and instantly grasp what they mean, even if they have the context for them. That’s why people make graphs – pictures that give the overall story for people that don’t need every little detail.

Most spreadsheet programs offer multiple types of graphs. The most commonly used types are pie charts, line charts, and bar charts.
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Project 1: A simple budget

Okay, now we have enough tools to do our first, simple project: a budget.

Imagine you’re a person who is in a position where you need to keep track of where money goes. I imagine that this isn’t a very hard stretch for most people.

You probably want to know several things. You want to know how much money you have at any given time. You’ll want to know how much money has come in, and how much money has gone out. If you’re dealing with more than one account (if, for example, you have a credit card and a checking account, or you’re a library tracking spending in multiple departments), you’ll want to know which account the money is going to/from. And you probably want to know what the money came from or was spent on.
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Basic formulas

All formulas start with ‘=’.  If you enter a formula but the formula appears in the cell instead of the result, then try putting an equal sign in front of it.  Essentially you’re saying “the value in this cell equals the result of this formula.”

The simplest formula is ‘=a1’ or ‘=Foo’.  The most common use for this is when the cell you’re pulling from is not visible from your current location on the screen, but you want to see it next to what’s currently visible.  I also use it for repeating headers, such as when I’m listing the same five things for each month of the year.
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