**What is a spreadsheet?**

Spreadsheets were invented to make accounting easier, but all they really do is perform repetitive calculations quickly and accurately, so you can use a spreadsheet to keep your grades. Although it's not hard to record grades on paper, adding them up takes time, and if you go back and enter points for missing or excused work, you will need to recalculate the total each time. The spreadsheet does this automatically, saving you time and reducing errors. The spreadsheet can even convert your percentile grade into a letter grade. Now that's cool! Gradebook programs do the same thing, and with more bells and whistles, but they cost money and almost every computer already comes with a spreadsheet program. All spreadsheets work in pretty much the same way. We'll use Excel in this example.

**Example:**

Here's a sample spreadsheet that is being used as a gradebook...

**Spreadsheet Terminology:**

Spreadsheets consist of rows and columns of cells.
** Cells** are the individual boxes. They can contain words
or numbers. If a cell contains only numbers, the spreadsheet will
recognize the content as numbers. If the cell contains anything other
than numbers, the spreadsheet will ignore the content when performing
calculations. A

**Setting it up:**

At first you may not see the advantage of a spreadsheet. After all, you still have to put all this information in it, and how is this any easier than on paper? Trust me. It will be. In the first row, enter the names of your assignments (or just call them Assignment 1, 2, 3, etc.) In the second row, enter the point value for that assignment. Down the first column, enter the names of your students. You may want to use the "lastname first" naming system since this will make your spreadsheet match the official school gradesheets and class rosters. You can create a separate spreadsheet for each of your classes or combine all students into one, but if you do put all students in one spreadsheet, be sure to include a column for class section so you will be able to sort by either class or lastname.

**Calculations:**

Now comes the fun part. (Well, at least this part is more fun than
the rest.) In a spreadsheet, we use ** formulas** to perform
calculations. Here's a simple formula:

**Copying and Pasting Formulas:**

Typing formulas is easier than doing the calculations by hand, but
it's still a lot of work, especially on that last one. Isn't there an
easier way? I'm glad you asked. If you type a formula once, you can
then **copy** and **paste** that formula to another cell and
the spreadsheet will adjust the row and column numbers for you
automatically. You have to be careful when doing this because the
spreadsheet is guessing what you want (and it sometimes guesses
wrong) so check your formulas carefully and make sure that the
results they give you make sense. For example, if Fred gets more than
100 percent on his test, there's either a problem with the formula or
his score has been entered incorrectly. If you want to copy a formula
into a range of cells, select the cell containing the formula and
choose **Edit/Copy**. Then select the range of cells where you
want to paste the formula and choose **Edit/Paste** (or hit the
Enter key).

**Making a Chart:**

Excel can also display your data graphically. Select the data you want to graph as shown here...

Assignment 1 |
Quiz 1 |
Assignment 2 |
Quiz 2 |
Midterm |
Assignment 3 |
Final Exam |

84.0 |
79.0 |
86.7 |
76.0 |
78.2 |
79.2 |
80.3 |

Then choose **Insert/Chart...**

What's nice about the chart is that you don't need to rebuild it if you enter changes into the cells. The chart will update itself dynamically.

Download this sample spreadsheet to work with the information...