What is an Electronic spreadsheet?

Tabular listing has many advantages ranging from time management to efficient scheduling of tasks. Electronic spreadsheets allow the user to tabulate and analyze data, using its easy-to-use interface. An electronic spreadsheet is a staple application used among accountants, management staff, and IT professionals. It is used in various sectors worldwide for data management. An electronic spreadsheet is a system and computer software that could be used to do numerical computations automatically. Spreadsheet application programs are often organized as a table with rows and columns. Each row and column intersect to form a cell, which may be used to store data. These data can take the form of a written label, a number, or a formula that combines information from other cells.

Uses of spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are extremely useful in security management systems to establish and manage budgets, calculate expenses, predict task costs, and other numerical studies. Data entries may be readily modified in time to examine their impact. The ability to visually present the results is another important feature of the electronic spreadsheet application system. Graphs and charts of various forms can be used to illustrate variations and trends in the interactions between distinct variables inside a spreadsheet. They can also be used to track expenses and revenue.

An electronic spreadsheet is an electronic version system of the conventional paper spreadsheet software used by accountants. It stores the content in the form of numeric data in two-dimensional tables and displays the results of the computations performed on the data. They are simple to learn and less time-consuming, and they give an intuitively reasonable structure to investigate any quantitative problem that can be expressed as a two-dimensional table.

They are readily flexible, allowing users to quickly copy content of the data from user interface and computational formula from one system to another, and build prefabricated 'spreadsheet cells', which have long been the most frequently and user-friendly used Software tools intended particularly for planning applications. The copy of the content can be used to calculate and recalculate the data. The tabulation of data helps in the recalculation.

The electronic spreadsheet system has evolved into an indispensable laboratory tool. It has superseded many formerly custom-written scientific applications because of its general-purpose numerical analysis and visual features. These applications have also gained popularity among academics due to the versatility with which they simplify data entry, modification, and organization of the content. As a result, it is highly advantageous to create application programs and software that make use of a full-featured spreadsheet.

A brief history

VisiCorp in 1979 released the first spreadsheet computer program for personal computers for Apple II. It is known as VisiCalc or visible calculator. It was the idea of Dan Bricklin. In six years, VisiCalc was sold over 700,000 copies and therefore considered to be Apple II's killer app.

The inventor of the electronic spreadsheet was certainly not Bricklin. It was professor Richard Mattessich who pioneered the development of computerized spreadsheets especially for use in business accounting. He first came up with the idea of a spreadsheet program in1961. Rene Pardo and Remy Landau co-invented 'LANPAR' LANguage for Programming Arrays at Random in 1969. Electronic spreadsheet type application LANPAR was used for budgeting at Bell Canada, AT&T, Bell operating companies, and General Motors. The modern era of microcomputer-based electronic spreadsheets must begin with the VisiCalc.

Different versions of spreadsheets

Some spreadsheet software programs are proprietary, such as Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3, while others are free/open-source, such as Gnome Office Spreadsheet Gnumeric, KOffice KSpread, and OpenOffic.org Calc. Human-Computer contact occurs in a variety of ways and on a growing number of devices. For a good user experience, we should access information, process it, and communicate back with the computer understandably and easily. McGraw-Hill is an online training and assessment solution that is simple to use and involves an electronic spreadsheet. It gives students unrestricted access to and enables practice with Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint, as well as computer principles, file management, and operating system information in the computer. Lucid 3D is the spreadsheet program used in MS-DOS.

Using the formulas and functions in Excel

Formulas are the built-in entries in computers that contain an equation for the calculation of an output based on pre-defined instructions. When working with a formula, remember to type the equation rather than typing numeric values. When any data referenced in the equation is changed or entered, this equation will be immediately updated. Cells in spreadsheet software can also include formulas that can be used to conduct computations. Mathematical equations are used to create formulas. They are helpful to create a connection between two or more cells. They include the coordinates of the cells utilized in the formula, as well as the operators and functions. When one enters a formula, the cell displays the formula's outcome. Formulas must begin with a "=" sign; otherwise, they are handled as text entries. Excel should have enough additional blank rows in the selection to handle the text after word-wrapping if it is to be used as a word processor.

Auto sum

The adding of numbers is one of the most commonly performed operations. As a result, a toolbar button called AutoSum is added to complete this operation. The AutoSum button in the Standard toolbar automatically adds the values above or to the left of the target cell.


This has a collection of pre-written formulas known as functions. Functions are special programs that receive data and return a value after processing it. Functions are distinct from normal formulas in that they accept values rather than operators such as +, -, *, or /. For instance, the SUM function can be used to sum the integers instead of the ‘+' operator.

Cell reference

Mostly used cell references are:

Absolute referencing

Absolute reference means that when a formula is transferred from one cell to another, the coordinates of that cell are not altered. To convert a cell address to an absolute cell address, insert a dollar sign in front of both the row and column IDs. For instance, $A$1 denotes that both the rows and columns have been fixed or made absolute. In a layman's language, when one copies this formula to another cell, neither the column name nor the row number changes.

Relative referencing

Relative Referencing is a term that refers to the relation of cells when a formula is replicated from one region to another, and relative cell references are used. It records the relative location of the cell from one worksheet to the next cell where the formula was originally stored. This is the default setting. In a spreadsheet, there is a method of reference.

Spreadsheet column name and Lead Value
CC BY-PDM | Image Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki | Brews Ohare

Context and Applications

Electronic spreadsheets have a wide array of applications in various sectors. It is a basic skill required for a large number of jobs. It is widely used in every sector ranging from the education sector to the health sector. Electronic spreadsheets help in data organization which can be a crucial part of handling emergencies such as the pandemic (Coronavirus disease 2019) COVID-19. It helps in faster tracking and retrieval of data.

  • Bachelors in Computer Science
  • Bachelors in Computer Applications

Practice Problems

Question1) What are the types of cell referencing?

  1. Absolute Referencing
  2. Relative Referencing
  3. Both a & b
  4. None

Answer: Option c

Explanation- Cell referencing consists of both absolute and relative referencing.

Question 2) Who is known as the "Father" of the electronic spreadsheet?

  1. Dan Bricklin
  2. Charles Babbage
  3. Elon Musk
  4. Zukerberg

Answer: Option a

Explanation- Dan Bricklin is known as the "Father" of the electronic spreadsheet.

Question 3) Which Symbol is used for absolute referencing?

  1. #
  2. $
  3. %
  4. &

Answer: Option b

Explanation- In Excel, an absolute cell reference is a cell address that includes a dollar sign ($). It might come before the column or row reference, or both.

Question 4) In a cell, how do you wrap the text?

  1. Format cells font
  2. Format cells protection
  3.  Format cells number
  4.  Format cells alignment

Answer: Option d

Explanation- Microsoft Excel may wrap text in a cell so that it appears on many lines. The user can have the option of formatting the cell such that the text wraps automatically or manually entering a line break. Wrap Text is located in the Alignment group on the Home tab.

Question 5) What is the type of data called when an Excel file is inserted in a Word document?

  1. Hyperlinked placed in a word table
  2. Linked
  3. Embedded
  4. Use the word menu bar and toolbars

Answer: Option b

Explanation- When we insert an excel file into a word document and retain the source file linkage; the data in the liked file is also updated when the data in the source file is updated.

Common Mistakes

Electronic spreadsheets offer an interactive user interface with a large variety of functions, but if the user is interested in high-level applications for organizing data, electronic spreadsheets will not suffice.

Excel users often encounter various errors. Apart from the errors within the application, most of the errors can be considered user errors. The error can occur while inserting or fetching data from the tables. This is usually because of giving the wrong cell reference.

The user should be careful about using the operations in Excel. If there are any mistakes in the table created by the user, then the expected output will not be achieved. It must be taken care that the formulas written in excel are correct, and they use the correct form of syntax.

  • Data computing
  • Sequenced Query Language
  • Multiple Tables

Want more help with your civil engineering homework?

We've got you covered with step-by-step solutions to millions of textbook problems, subject matter experts on standby 24/7 when you're stumped, and more.
Check out a sample civil engineering Q&A solution here!

*Response times may vary by subject and question complexity. Median response time is 34 minutes for paid subscribers and may be longer for promotional offers.

Search. Solve. Succeed!

Study smarter access to millions of step-by step textbook solutions, our Q&A library, and AI powered Math Solver. Plus, you get 30 questions to ask an expert each month.

Tagged in
EngineeringCivil Engineering

Engineering fundamentals

Computational engineering tools

Electronic spreadsheet

Electronic Spreadsheet Homework Questions from Fellow Students

Browse our recently answered Electronic Spreadsheet homework questions.

Search. Solve. Succeed!

Study smarter access to millions of step-by step textbook solutions, our Q&A library, and AI powered Math Solver. Plus, you get 30 questions to ask an expert each month.

Tagged in
EngineeringCivil Engineering

Engineering fundamentals

Computational engineering tools

Electronic spreadsheet