Worksheets

While we’re on the topic of removing things, I want to talk about adding and removing entire worksheets. I’ll start by explaining what they are, why you would want them at all, why you’d want insert more of them, and why you’d want to delete one or more of them. Next week I’ll talk about how to do a variety things to worksheets (including adding and deleting them).

What they are:
I mentioned before that a worksheet is a single “page” of a spreadsheet. I put the word page in quotation marks because it’s not the same thing as a printed sheet of paper. If you were to print out a worksheet it could take up only a fraction of a sheet of paper, or it could use a whole ream of paper or more.

Why you want them:
If all of your work is done on a single worksheet, as far as navigation goes that’s like working on a single sheet of paper. It might be a very, very large sheet of paper, but there’s a reason books replaced scrolls as the popular method of storing information. It’s a lot easier and faster to go to page 200 of a 300-page book than it would be to rotate a scroll of equivalent size 2/3 of the way through. Likewise if you have multiple tables or lists or sets of data, it’s easier to click on another worksheet than it is to scroll up and down and right and left, trying to get to all your information.

Why you want more of them:
There’s any number of reasons you might want more worksheets, including just having more data than you can comfortably see on one. I tend to put things that have conceptual differences on different sheets, and if I have more things that I’ll want to look at all at once (like a table) than will fit on my screen at the same time, some of them get moved to another worksheet. One really easy example is that any yearly budget I make has at least 12 worksheets in it: one for each month.

Why you want less of them:
Maybe you just inserted one too many. Maybe you were experimenting with something and it didn’t work out. Maybe you were using something, and you’re simply not using it any more and want to make the file smaller. Maybe you’re sending a copy of the spreadsheet to someone else, and you don’t want them to have access to certain irrelevant pieces of information. Maybe you’re working with someone who is less than skilled with spreadsheets, and don’t want to hear “I don’t know what I clicked on but now everything’s blank!” There are a lot of possible reasons.

How you identify and navigate them:
Most spreadsheet programs show which worksheet you’re in by displaying tabs at the lower left corner. By default most spreadsheets either have 1 or 3 worksheets when you create them, and they’re named Sheet1, Sheet2, and Sheet3. In this image Sheet1 has a white tab while the others are grey because we’re currently looking at the data in Sheet1.

The buttons to the left of the tabs in this image are for navigating if you have too many worksheets to all fit horizontally and still be visible. The right arrow shifts the view one to the right, and the right arrow with the line next to it shifts the view all the way to the right. The other two do the same thing, but to the left. Note that this doesn’t change what worksheet you’re viewing, only what worksheet tabs are visible.

To look at a different worksheet, just click on the tab for it.