Detailed Lists

Now that I’ve covered the basics of how to use a spreadsheet to get a high level overview of something by using graphs, it’s time to go to the other extreme. Spreadsheets can make it very easy to work with a long list of items that have a lot of details that need to be tracked.

A spreadsheet has all of the advantages that any electronic format has. It can be as large as it needs to be, you can search it for the words you want, you can move text around easily, and, of course, handwriting isn’t an issue.

However, a spreadsheet has some additional benefits. It can be organized in ways that most other documents can’t be. Because each detail can be put in a separate column it can be made more clear, and it also becomes more sortable. It can be filtered so you only see the parts you want. It can be automatically formatted, so that cells which fit your desired criteria are highlighted.

People often think of using a spreadsheet when they want to track a relatively simple set of things. Some examples of this are:

  • Budgets
  • Weight loss
  • Stock prices
  • Student grades

However, they’re also good for wading through items that have a large number of details to compare or track. Some examples like this are:

  • House hunting
  • Job hunting
  • Baby feeding/care
  • Food diaries
  • Jewelry/precious items inventory
  • Book inventory

In the coming weeks I’ll be introducing some techniques that can help you create and use these sorts of detailed lists to your advantage, and showing you some examples of them.