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Teaching supplement covering Unit 6 of the

CXC IT (Technical Proficiency Syllabus), Spreadsheets

Teaching notes to be used with Section 7 of the

CXC Information Technology General Proficiency Syllabus,
Spreadsheets [IT for CSEC pg. 194, Cato; IT for CSEC exams-
Campbell, pg. 190]

Inclusive of discussion time, this topic is expected to take 30
hours, or 6 weeks.

By the end of this module, the student should be able to:

Understand the layout and purpose of a spreadsheet
Create a spreadsheet
Describe it in the correct terminology
Use formulae and functions
Control and manipulate columns and rows
Describe the difference between absolute and relative
Apply formatting to a spreadsheet
Control and manipulate data and formulae
Sort data in a spreadsheet
Search for records
Create graphs and charts to a spreadsheet
Use multiple worksheets
Import files from different documents.

What is a Spreadsheet?
A spreadsheet is a grid of cells organized in rows and columns. A row
is horizontal, meaning that it goes from left to right and a column
is vertical, meaning that it goes from top to bottom. It is a way of
showing how numerical data items relate to each other. It enables you
to store not only numerical data but also formulae to carry out
operations on the numerical data. It can be used for any job that
involves repetitive numerical calculations. Some examples are:
1. Statistics e.g. finding averages or calculating the standard
2. Loan calculations
3. Financial plans e.g. budgeting
4. Stock-keeping in a supermarket
5. Payrolls
6. Company accounts
7. Keeping accounts in a club
8. Preparing end-of-term school reports
The Excel interface

What is a Cell?
A cell is the intersection of the rows and columns. Each cell has a
unique identification called a cell reference or cell address. This
means that each cell has a unique reference identified by the column
letter and row number. For example, B4 specifies the cell in columns B
and row 4.
By clicking with the mouse, you can select individual cells or a range
of cells.

What is a cell reference?

Copying formulae can be extremely useful, and happens because the
spreadsheet is using relative cell references. A reference tells the
spreadsheet where to look for the values or data you want to use in a
formula. There are two (2) types of cell references: Relative and

Relative cell referencing

Relative cell references are references to cells relative to the position
of the formula. For example, if you put the formula =A1 into cell B1,
A1 is the reference and the spreadsheet will automatically enter into
cell B1 whatever is in cell A1. However, what is important to note is
that a relative cell reference changes when a formula is copied
or moved.
Absolute cell referencing
If you do not want the cell reference to change in this way, you can use
an absolute cell reference. Absolute references are fixed
references that do not change when a formula is moved or
copied. In order to make a formula contain absolute references, a
dollar sign ($) is inserted before the column or row reference that you
do not want to change: for example, $A$2.

When to use Absolute cell referencing

Absolute cell referencing is used, for example, when finding the

percentage that one cell is of another.

Information that a cell can contain

A cell can contain one of three types of information: label (text),
value (number) or formula.

A label can be used as a title or heading to describe an aspect of the
worksheet. It can contain any string of characters, meaning letters or
numbers, but must start with a character that does not indicate a
formula or number.

A value is a piece of data that can be used in a calculation.

A formula is an equation that tells the spreadsheet what actions or
calculations you wish to take on any spreadsheet data. ALL formulae
begin with an =sign.

Adding formulae to a worksheet

Formulae are used to compute values. The spreadsheet package that
we will be using is Microsoft Excel. All Excel formulae begin with an
equal (=) sign. Cell references and various operators can follow your
equal sign. Operators used in formulae in spreadsheets include:
+ addition
- subtraction
* multiplication
/ division
> greater than
< less than
= is equal to
<> is not equal to
<= is less than or equal to
>= is greater than or equal to
^ exponentiation (or raising to a power)


A function is a predefined formula that can automatically calculate

results, perform worksheet actions, or assist with decision making
based on the information provided in your worksheet.

Basic and commonly used Spreadsheet

There are a number of basic spreadsheet functions. The following are
the more-commonly used.

1. The =SUM( function

The =SUM( function adds all the numbers in a range of cells. If
for example you have the number 3 in cell B3, and the number 8
in cell B4, and would like to store their total in cell B5, the
formulae you would place in cell B5 would be, =SUM(B3:B4. You
would select cell B5, type in =SUM( then position your mouse at
cell B3, and drag the selection to B4, then press enter. You would
get the answer 11 in cell B5. However if for example you had the
number 18 in cell B6, and 19 in cell B28, and would like to find
the total of these two numbers in cell C29, you would do

2. The =PRODUCT( function

The =PRODUCT( function is used when multiplying the contents
of one cell
against another. If for example you have the number 3 in cell B3,
and the number 8 in cell B4, and would like to store their total in
cell B5, the formulae you would place in cell B5 would be,
=PRODUCT(B3:B4. You would select cell B5, type in
=PRODUCT( then position your mouse at cell B3, and drag the
selection to B4, then press enter. You would get the answer 24 in
cell B5. However if for example you had the number 18 in cell B6,
and 19 in cell B28, and would like to find the total of these two
numbers in cell C29, you would do =PRODUCT (B6,B28.

3. The =IF( function

The =IF( function allows you to set the value of a cell depending
on the outcome of a condition. For example, you might determine
whether stock needs to be replenished from the current amount
of stock.

The =IF( function has three arguments:

a) The condition
b) The return value for a TRUE condition
c) The return value for a FALSE condition

The condition compares one expression against another; for

example, the expression B7 = 0 would return a TRUE value IF B7
contains zero or is blank, and FALSE otherwise.

In an =IF( function you can use the following comparison


= Equal
<> Not equal
< Less than
<= Less or equal
> Greater than
>= Greater or equal

You can also combine conditions with the following operators:

AND Condition is TRUE is both parts are TRUE.

OR Condition is TRUE if one or both parts are TRUE.

How an =IF( function is set up:

=IF(logical_test, value_if_true, value_if_false)

logical_test: this is the condition that must be met. For

example, A10=25 examines whether the value in cell A10 is
equal to 25.

Value_if_true: this is what must occur if the condition is true, or

met. Think of it as the calculation or statement that would follow
the THEN clause in a problem question. Suppose we want
correct if A10 is equal to 25, then we set value_if_true to

Value_if_false: this is an optional value. You can specify an

argument here if you want to something else to happen should
the condition be false (not met). Think of it as the ELSE clause in
a problem question. Suppose we want incorrect if A10 is not
equal to 25, then we set value_if_false to not correct.

Text strings are enclosed in quotes when using the IF function.

Look at this table:

1 $15
2 $22
3 =sum(A1,

Cell A3 adds the values of cells A1 and A2. You want to create a
conditional statement in cell B1 that displays the message enough
funds if the value is $50 or over, and not enough if it is under. Here
is what you type:

=If(A3>=50, enough funds, not enough)

4.The =MAX( function

The =MAX( function is used to find the largest, or Maximum, value in a

set of values in a row or column. The general form of the maximum
function is =MAX(First cell:last cell). For example, if you want to find
the highest number in a range B45:B68, use the formula
=MAX(B45:B68, and the largest value will be stored in the current cell.

5.The =MIN( function

The =MIN( function is used to find the smallest, or Minimum, value in a

set of values in a row or column. The general form of the minimum
function is =MIN(First cell:last cell). For example, if you want to find the
lowest number in a range B45:B68, use the formula =MIN(B45:B68,
and the lowest value will be stored in the current cell.

6. The =AVERAGE( function

The =AVERAGE( function is used to find the mean of a set of values.

The general form of the average function is =AVERAGE(First cell:last
cell). For example, if you want to find the mean of numbers in a range
B45:B68, use the formula =AVERAGE(B45:B68, and the mean value will
be stored in the current cell.
7. The =COUNT(function
The =COUNT(function counts the number of cells that contain numeric
values within a selection of cells. This function is useful if you have a
large spreaddsheet with scattered values and you want to know how
many of the cells actually contain values, or how many cells in a
particular column in the brackets, type the range of cells you want to
test. The formula should look something like this:

8.The =COUNTA(function
The =COUNTA(function counts the number of cells that contain any
kind of value within a selection. So the value can be a number, letter,
string or symbol. Specify the range of cells that must be searched:

9. The=RANK(function
The =RANK( function displays the rank of a number in a list of
numbers. You can use it if you have a list of test marks and you want
to know how a particular student did compared to the other students
how they ranked overall. For example, to find the rank of the value in
cell B2 in the range B1:B6 sorted in ascending order:

10. The =VLOOKUP( function

The =VLOOKUP(function allows you to search for a value in a record.
The function looks for a value you have specified in the leftmost
column. Once this value is found, it returns a value from the same row,
but from a different column, which you also specify in the function
argument. This is a useful function if you are searching for a particular
record within a table, but you only know the value in the leftmost
1 Surname Name Mark received Percentage
2 Smith Kirk 4.5 45
3 Kelly Georgia 7 70
4 Hill Chris 8 80

You want to find the percentage received by a student with surname

Hill. Here is the way you have to use the VLOOKUP function:

lookup_value: this is the value you are searching for in the

leftmost column. In this case it is Hill. Text strings must be
enclosed in quotes.
table_array: this refers to the table or set of values that must
be searched through to find the correct value. You can specify a
range here. It is usually best to start the range at the top left
corner and end at the bottom right. In this case it is A2:D4.

col_index_num: this is the number of the column you want the

value returned from. In this case you want a percentage and
percentages are in column D. but VLOOKUP requires you to
specify the column as a number, where A is 1, B is 2, C is 3, D is
4, and so on.

range_lookup: this is an optional value you can specify. You

can leave it blank or set it TRUE, which means that the function
will search for an approximate value.

And here is what you type for the Hill example:

=vlookup(Hill, A2:D4,4)

The cell in which you specify this function will return the value 80 when
you have entered the function. This function is useful for large tables
that are not easy to view in one glance, or tables with unsorted data.

Formatting the Date/Inserting the Date.

To insert the current date into a spreadsheet you use the function,
After doing so, you can format the date to one that you prefer. You do
so by
right-clicking the cell where youve entered your date, and choosing
Format cells. In the Number tab, go down to Date, and in the right-
hand submenu, choose a date format that you would like.
To insert the date using the =DATE( function, type in
=DATE(YEAR,MONTH,DAY. Press enter. Substitute YEAR, MONTH and
DAY with the actual numeric values. You can also custom the
appearance of the date by right-clicking on the date, choosing format
cells, and then the Number Tab. Go down to custom. Click in the area
under Type, and enter the format that you would like your date to
appear in.

Sometimes you may need to create your own formula that is not
covered by a standard function. All calculations must start with the
equal (=) sign. To understand how to construct formulae, use this
spreadsheet as an example:
1. Month Month Month 3
1 2 3
2. 22 12 12
3. 13 22 22
4. 25 34 30

Excel formulae work like regular mathematical formulae, which means

that you must obey the rules of BODMAS: brackets over division,
multiplication and subtraction. Calculations in brackets are carried out
first, then division, multiplication and subtraction and addition from left
to right in the problem:
the calculations in the brackets are carried out first, so it becomes:
Now, the problem only has multiplication and division, so you follow it
from left to right.

Here are some common mathematical operators in Excel:

Addition: to add the values of A2 to A4 the formula is:


The plus sign (+) can be typed using your keyboard; hold down
the Shift key while pressing the = button.

Subtraction: to subtract A3 from A2 the formula is:

The minus sign is on your keyboard.

Multiplication: to multiply B4 and C4 , use the symbol *, which

you can enter as Shift and number 8 on your keyboard:

Division: to add the values in A2, B2 and C2 then divide by the

value in D1, use the slash for division and write the formula like
If D1 contains 3, the formula will calculate the average of A2, B2
and C2. You cannot divide by 0. If D1 contains 3, the formula
will calculate the average of A2,B2 and C2. You cannot divide by
0. If D1contains 0, the cell containing =(A2+B2+C2)/1 will
display this error message:
Powers: to calculate the power of a base, you use the
exponential sign (). If you want to find 10 to the power 2, you

Creating a Header or a Footer

A Header is text that appears in the top margin of your spreadsheet. A
Footer is text that appears in the bottom margin of your spreadsheet.
To add a header or a footer:

1. Navigate to the Texts group on the Insert tab.

Header & Footer button on the Insert tab

2. Click on the header & footer button, and entered the desired

Inserting Rows/Columns
To insert a Row/Column, Highlight the Row (Rows are horizontal- they
go across the screen) or Column (Columns are vertical they go down
the screen) where you would like the new Row or Column to be placed.
Next right click, and choose the Insert Option.
Titles and headings may take up a lot of space in a cell, and wrapping
is not always the best way to ensure that all text is visible. Cell
merging makes all the text visible on one line. The cells are merged
into a single cell with one cell address.

Centering across Columns

1. Highlight the text that you want to go center, and continue
highlight the number of columns that you want the text to center
across. Example, you want the text CRIMES COMMITTED
AGAINST WOMEN IN HAGLAND to go across cell A1 TO G1, you
would highlight from Cell A1 to G1.

2. You then click the Merge and Center Icon. It is a little icon with
an a between two arrows. It is located next to the right align
icon on your formatting toolbar.

Text Merged & Centered against Row 1

Moving a block of Text
In order to do this you must first highlight all the cells that contain text
or characters, place your mouse pointer to the bottom or last row of
your highlighted text, and making sure that your pointer is an ARROW,
Hold down your LEFT mouse button, also called your Primary mouse
button, and Drag the text down to the cell that you are to move them

Dividing in a spreadsheet
There is NO in-built formula for DIVIDING. So do not try =DIV,
=DIVISION, =DIVIDE. THEY DO NOT EXIST. To divide numbers, you use
the forward slash (/). For example, if you have 8 in cell A5, and 2 in
cell H15, and you would like to know what 8 divided by 2 equals, you
would use =A5/H15. If you have a range of numbers you would like to
divide by H15 in our example, you would of course have to make H15
ABSOLUTE, by using your $ sign.. It would become $H$15.

Subtracting in a spreadsheet
There is no in-built formula for subtraction. If you would like to subtract
numbers it would be for example =A4 B7.

How to find Percentage in a spreadsheet

The most important thing to remember is that THERE IS NO IN-BUILT
=% do not exist.

A thorough understanding of the use of Absolute cell references is

needed in order to find percentages. You can then determine the
percentage value of a cell against another by following the format
=Cell X/ Cell Y, where cell Xs cell reference is absolute. Your result will
be in decimal format. In order for your result to appear in decimal
format, you must click on the % icon, which is located in your
formatting toolbar next to your dollar ($) sign.

Selecting cells or ranges not located next to

each other
Now there may be times where you may want to chart, total, or
otherwise refer to cells that are not located next to each other. To get
information from Cells not located to each other you use the CTRL key..

For example, you might have a range of numbers located between

cells A16:F17.

You may want to know only what the sum of B12 and E14 is equal to..

In that instance you would do =SUM(B12, and holding down your ctrl
key, highlight cell E14).
Applying Borders to a spreadsheet
A border is a line or lines that are used to mark out areas of your
To add borders to cells, you must:
a) Select the cells to which you want to apply borders.
b) Click on either Menus tab or the Home tab. select the
Borders icon. Alternately, click on the Menus tab, then
select Format, then Format cells. Navigate to borders,
and select the desired border. Right clicking on the active cell,
then selecting Format Cells, will also allow you to navigate
to the borders tab, and choose the desired border.

If you want to put border only around the sides of the cells,
choose outline; if you would like to add border to the inside of
the cells, choose Inside; if you would like to add borders to
both inside and the outline of the cell, choose both options.

Charts are graphical representations of data that can be used to show
trends, compare data and emphasise a mathematical or statistical
figure. To add charts, use the Charts group on the Insert tab. The type
of chart you use depends on what you are trying to represent, and can
also depend on the data you are using. Here are some Excel charts
that you use most often:
o A bar graph: represents data in bars that stretch horizontally,
so categories are on the vertical axis and numbers on the
horizontal axis. It is useful for comparing values.

o A column graph: is the same as a bar graph, except the bars

are vertical. You use a column graph if you want categories or
text on the horizontal axis and values on the vertical axis.
o A line graph: plots points and joins them to form a line. It is
useful for showing upward and downward trends.

o A pie chart: represents data in a circle. Each sector is part of

the whole. This type of data is useful for comparing the parts
that make up a whole. It is useful to compare proportions and

o A scatter graph: plots points like a line graph but the scattered
points are not joined up.

Creating Charts from a spreadsheet

If you have to create a chart, and chart information not located in
consecutive cells, you would have to use the CTRL key. ANOTHER VERY

Selected chart range

1. Begin by selecting the data must be included in the chart. Do not

include other data, otherwise it will be included as an unnecessary
value in the chart.

The Charts group on the Insert tab

2. Click the Pie chart button and select the kind of chart you want from
the drop-down list.
Select the Insert tab then click on the required chart icon.

Give the chart an appropriate title. If you are charting for example,
Crimes committed over a five- year period, do not name it Five year
chart. That is too vague.
Sorting text and columns in a spreadsheet.
There are two ways to sort: Ascending and Descending. When sorting
in ascending order information is sorted From A Z; when sorting
in descending order information is sorted from Z A. When sorting on a
particular column ensure that you place your pointer on the
title/column heading. YOU MUST then HIGHLIGHT EVERYTHING. If you dont
ONLY the specific column will be sorted, meaning that the other
information will remain unchanged.

e.g. You have a row showing the number of Red cars that were involved
in accidents in 2000. You might have 8 and the number of blue cars
involved in accidents in 2000. You might have 14. Now if you were to
sort and highlight ONLY the Colour of Car column, blue cars would show
8, red would show 14which is wrong.

Filtering is retrieval of records based on specified criteria. This allows a
user to view only wanted records. There are two (2) types of filters:
1. Auto filter
2. Advanced filter

Auto Filter

An auto filter is a filter that is done within columns, or in-place. It is

used mainly when you have many rows of data and you want to quickly
filter that data to show only certain data that you are interested in
either by specifying a certain value, or range of values as a criteria.
The AutoFilter option is the quickest and easiest way of achieving this.
With Auto Filter, records that do not meet the conditions defined in the
criteria remain part of the spreadsheet, but are hidden until you
redisplay them

Creating an auto filter

You choose the Filter command in the Data menu, and then choose
Auto filter. You will then see drop-down arrows directly on the column
labels, or column names of your list. Clicking an arrow displays a list of
all the unique items in the column. Choose Custom. Remember to
customize is to manipulate something so you can get results that
you want form it.

In custom auto filter, you will see your column label and in the
criteria range, equal. If you click on the drop-down arrow next to
equal, you will see a long list of options for your criteria. So if you want
to see all items that begin with the letter F, for example, you would
choose begins with and in the box to the right of it type in the letter
F. You then choose ok.
Advanced Filter
Advanced Filters make it possible to retrieve records from an Excel
database based on multiple conditions for one or more columns.
Advance Filters do not use the AutoFilter drop box arrows. Instead, a
criteria range is created and used to define the conditions for the
search. Like using Auto Filter, records that do not meet the conditions
defined in the criteria remain part of the spreadsheet, but are hidden
until you redisplay them.
An advanced filter is one that is done by separating the spreadsheet
into three (3) specific areas. These areas ranges are called the:
1. Database
2. Criteria
3. Extract

The Sort & Filter group on the Data tab

The Sort & Filter group on the Home tab

The Database
The Database is the area of your spreadsheet containing all the

The Criteria Range

The Criteria Range is the area of your spreadsheet where you specify
the criteria of your filter.

The Extract Range

The Extract Range is the area of your spreadsheet where the results of
your filter are to be stored, or extracted to.

Setting/Defining the Database range

As mentioned previously, the Database range is the area of your
spreadsheet where the majority of your data is concentrated. To
create the Database you must:

1. Select (highlight with your mouse) all the rows and columns of the
database, include the
headings, but do not include any blank rows or columns bordering
the database.
2. Click Insert on the menu bar hover Name and click Define. The
Define Name dialog
box appears. The first box in the dialog automatically picks up the
value that is located in the first cell of the range.
3. Type database where the value that is located in the first cell

Creating the criteria range

After defining your database range you must create your criteria
range. The steps are following:
1. Copy the Headings row of the database. This is the range
containing your column headings. Paste it to a blank area of
your worksheet.

2. Highlight the newly copied Headings and the blank cells

directly below them.

3. Click Insert on the menu bar hover Name and click Define.
Verify the range
is correct. Name the range Criteria.

Creating and using an Extract range

You may create an extract range on the worksheet for Excel to display
the filtered records in. Using an Extract range allows the complete
database to remain displayed in its original position, while the
requested records are extracted and displayed for you to work with
on another area of the worksheet.
To do this you:
1. Copy the row of headings to the bottom of the worksheet
leaving at least one
blank row between them and the end of the criteria range.

2. Highlight the headings - do not include a blank row as with

the criteria range.

3. Click Insert on the menu bar hover Name and click Define.
The Define Name
dialog box appears. Verify the range is correct Name the
range Extract.

Excel will now automatically find the range as the Extract

destination for Advance Filters.

Note: By including only the heading cells in the range - you

are basically telling Excel that there is no limit to the space
it can use to show the results. Including one or more blank
rows below the heading row tells Excel that it can not go
beyond the designated range to show results. In this case
when more records are returned than will fit in the range
you are prompted by an alert box to instruct as to whether
you want the data below the range deleted so that all the
results may be displayed. Answering no will result in a
partial list of the results starting with the first record Excel
found matching the criteria.

Using the Extract Range

To perform a filter and write results to the extract range, do the

1. Define the filter criteria in the criteria range. This means that
under the appropriate column heading insert the criteria for your
extract. In other words, type in what information contained in the
record will cause it to be filtered.
2. Click any cell of the database. It MUST be a cell in the
3. Click Data on the menu bar, hover Filter and click Advanced
Filter. The Define Name dialog box appears.
4. Change the action to Copy to another location. Enter the cell
references for the Extract range if they are not already displayed.
5. Click Ok.

Each of the records meeting the specified criteria is copied to the

extract range. The database range remains intact, displaying all its

Practice in your spare time.

To fail yourself would be a crime.
Remember after Exams there will be enough time to lime.