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Chapter 1: Introducing Excel 2010 > Spreadsheets Defined

Spreadsheets Defined

But we haven't quite answered the question of what a spreadsheet is. So here goes. A spreadsheet is a program that emulates, but far surpasses, those vast, green, lined ledgers on which accountants and bookkeepers used to enter columns and rows of numbers. Because spreadsheets work electronically, of course, they can do a great many more things with their data than any ledger could do with its handwritten entries. And the spreadsheet “ledger” is far vaster than the hard copy version (see Figure 1–2).

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Figure 1–2. A spreadsheet (in actuality, just part of one)

In fact, this figure shows only a very small fraction of the whole ledger.

A calculator also works electronically, but here too a spreadsheet has got it beat, and by a mile. Enter a number into the slender calculator readout and all you'll be able to see is one number. Add a number to it and the second will replace the first on the screen—that's it.


  

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