What is a spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet is a rectangular grid of information that is usually, but not necessarily always, financial in nature. The entire word "spreadsheet" has come to mean the format by which bookkeeping information is presented. This is normally in the format of columns of categories across the top, invoices listed down the left margin, and dollar amounts in the cells. As time passed by, this format has become even more modified.

A spreadsheet is normally used to present accounting data such as in Lotus 1-2-3. Lotus was an earlier application that used spreadsheets. A spreadsheet program is generally formatted to perform general computation tasks. Nowadays certain cells can have formulas so that they can manipulate other cells for a desired result. The cells can have numbers, dates, text, and almost any other kind of data imaginable. The spreadsheet can also create charts and graphs for the data based upon what the user is looking for. Most of the time a spreadsheet provides a different view of data, and presents it in a way that a user who doesn't have a financial or accounting background can understand it.

Spreadsheets can be manipulated in many ways, including ways that can update certain cells, such as the date or other information based upon other data that may change from day to day. Spreadsheets are good for use with payroll data as well as invoicing. Today there are many different stand-alone spreadsheets, online spreadsheets, as well as those that are part of a suite of different programs such as an office suite.

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