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Essential Spreadsheets

Our Essential Spreadsheets site provides in-depth help, advice, and exercises, for Excel and Google Sheets:


There are two spreadsheet applications available to use at the University of York:

Introducing spreadsheets

Play this tutorial in full screen

Anatomy of a spreadsheet

Take an introductory tour of the spreadsheet workspace and get an idea of how it works:

Follow the arrow below to learn more about spreadsheets:

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An example spreadsheet with dates in the second column

What is the cell reference for the date
when the large coffee was bought?

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Choosing the right tool

Excel or Google Sheets? Google Sheets or Excel? How do you decide which tool you should use?

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Copying and pasting

Cells or ranges can be moved using Cut/Copy & Paste as with other applications, but spreadsheets behave slightly differently:

A copied selection

After choosing either cut or copy, the selected range is surrounded by a dotted line - cut data stays where it is until pasted elsewhere.

When pasting a range, select only the top left cell of the new area before choosing paste:

A pasted selection

In Excel, copied content only remains on the clipboard for as long as the dotted line is displayed.

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Data formats

Data can be formatted in different ways in order to do different things...

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Dragging selected data

Cells or ranges can be dragged to a different location. Positioning the cursor at the cell border will change to the move cursor at which point the cell or range can be dragged.

Selecting the cell border allows you to drag
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Columns, rows, and sheets

Get to grips with the workspace and its arrangement.

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Auto Fill

A series of values (e.g. 1 to 10, Mon-Fri) can be entered quickly using Auto Fill.

Both Excel and Google have an auto fill function to save time.

Auto fill is carried out using the fill handle.

The fill handle is a small box on the bottom right-hand corner of the border surrounding a selected cell.
The fill handle is a small box on the bottom right-hand corner of the border surrounding a selected cell.

To use auto fill, enter the start of the sequence, then drag the fill handle in the direction you wish to fill.

The sequence will be continued until the point you release the fill handle.

You can also double-click the fill handle to auto-fill to the same length as a neighbouring column.

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Maths and stats software

IT Services have a number of software packages for statistical analysis:

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Google Forms

Google FormsGoogle Forms is part of the Google Apps for Education suite.

It is great for simple forms and surveys and has the benefit that the survey can be locked down to University of York members as a whole, as well as to specific individuals. 

Responses can be fed in real time to a Google Sheet.