It’s impossible to escape spreadsheets. They are a ballast of business, but until Google Sheets launched in 2006, they weren’t always that easy to use. Before Sheets, collaborating on spreadsheets meant locked files, trading emails, and duplicate files.
Now, users can collaborate in real time across countries, and even use their mobile devices to make changes. It’s easy to get started with Google Sheets, whether you’re a total beginner or an Excel pro.
Get Familiar with Common Terms
- Cell: a data point (or element).
- Column: cells vertically arranged.
- Row: cells horizontally arranged.
- Range: highlighting of cells across a column, row, or both.
- Function: operation that calculates cell, row, column, ranges, and more.
- Formula: functions, cells, columns, rows, and ranges combined to obtain a particular outcome.
- Worksheet: the columns, rows, and sheets making up your spreadsheet.
- Spreadsheet: data arranged in columns and rows.
Crawl Before You Walk
The best way to get to know Google Sheets is to learn by doing.
- Start by going to sheets.google.com in a browser
- Choose and select Google Sheet.
- Choose to create a new file from a blank spreadsheet or a template.
Type in a word or number and press Enter, Tab, or an arrow, or Click to select your next target cell.
Enter saves the input and moves to the next row.
Tab saves and moves to the right one cell in the same row.
The arrow keys will send the cursor one cell in the direction of the arrow.
Five Features For Beginners
Here are the top 5 features to master before really digging into Google Sheets.
Autofill helps you complete one of the most common spreadsheet tasks: Creating a series or list.
In a column or row, enter data in at least two adjacent cells. Highlight the cells. A small blue box will appear in the lower right corner. Drag the blue box down or across for any number of cells.
2) Import Files
CSV (comma separated values) and XLSX (Microsoft Excel) are typically what you will be importing. FILE > IMPORT > UPLOAD is the click path to import a file. It is best to create a new spreadsheet to avoid any confusion.
3) Explore Suggested Charts and Analysis
One of the neatest features Google Sheets has released is a little bit hidden.
Open a spreadsheet. In the bottom right, click Explore. In the Explore sidebar, type a question you have about your data and see answers.
Highlight some of your data. In the Explore sidebar, you’ll see suggested charts and analysis. You can insert these into your spreadsheet. It’s a real time saver.
4) Use Formulas
Highlight the range of cells you want to apply the formula to and click the Formula icon to select your operation. Alternatively, you can enter the formula manually in the cell where you want the result to be.
5) Sharing is Caring
Earlier we mentioned that you can edit spreadsheets in real-time. Click the Share button in the top right, then advanced in the bottom right of that pop-up. Enter the names of those you want the file shared with. You can give them permission to edit, or make them request for permission to edit. There are many variations of the how you can share a file: to anyone with the link, a few people, an entire organization, and more.