Why Are Spreadsheets Useful?

By Aurelio Locsin

Computer-based spreadsheets enable you to enter information into rows and columns and to manipulate that information automatically through the use of formulas, forms and dialog boxes. This makes data easier to organize and understand and allows quick changes in values when circumstances controlling those values change.

Organize data

Organizing data into tables makes the relationships between different kinds of information easier to find. For example, a mileage chart with the names of cities as row and column headers can easily show the distance between two points.

Manipulate data

Because formulas can easily change information across columns, tables and pages, it's easy to manipulate data and see the results based on changing factors. For example, the budget for a European trip is instantly updated, based on the changing value of the Euro.

Graphs and charts

Colorful graphs charts can display trends in numbers gathered over time. For example, a line chart of stock prices can show if a chart is heading upward or downward.


Spreadsheets can act as a simple database, sorting and filtering data to present only the necessary information. For example, friends in an address book can be sorted by zip code or filtered so only those within 5 miles are invited to a party.

Verify Data

Value limits, forms and dialog boxes can ensure that all data entered into a spreadsheet is correct. For example, all Social Security numbers can be validated to contain exactly 9 digits with no alphabetic characters.

Transfer Data

Spreadsheet data can quickly be imported from or exported to other applications. For example, a pie chart showing a budget can be exported to a word processing document for an annual report.