Day 8: A First Look at Google Docs Spreadsheets

30 Days With...Google Docs: Day 8

Today's post will be brief. Not only is it Sunday, but it's Mother's Day, so I was a bit busy devoting the day to trying to repay my wife in some small way for all she does all year to make sure I don't totally screw up our kids. Suffice it to say, sitting in front of the PC playing with Google Docs was not high on my list of ways to show my wife how much I value her contributions as the mother of my children.

As I said at the end of yesterday's 30 Days With...Google Docs post, today I am moving beyond the document portion of Google Docs, and taking a look at the spreadsheet capabilities. The spreadsheets are accessed from the same Google Docs home page as the documents. We'll eventually get into uploading a file from Microsoft Excel and working with it, but for today, I am just going to talk about creating a new spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Google Docs
At first glance, spreadsheets seems to be more intuitive and less annoying than its documents counterpart.
Toward the upper-left of the Google Docs home page, click on the Create new button and that will open a drop-down list with the various types of files you can create. Choose spreadsheet.

As a quick aside, you could also choose From template... which will take you to a Web page with tons of pre-formatted Google Docs templates to choose from, like Family Budget Planner, or Credit Card Payoff Calculator. It's much easier to use a template than start from scratch, so before you start reinventing the wheel you might want to at least scan what's available in the Google Docs Templates to see if there is something that will work for you.

But, assuming you just click spreadsheet to start a new one from scratch, you will start with a blank, unsaved spreadsheet. Before you start filling cells with all kinds of tedious, yet very important data, click at the top where it says Unsaved spreadsheet and give your spreadsheet a file name.

My immediate impression is that working with spreadsheets in Google Docs seems simpler and more intuitive than working with documents--at least for someone like me who is hardwired for Microsoft Office conventions and features.

The options available on the toolbar make it very easy to format a cell as currency, or percentages, change the font size or color, add shading to cells, etc. You can easily make rows or columns smaller or larger just by clicking the line between two rows or columns and dragging it to where you want it. And, there are easily accessible options to wrap text within a cell, add formulas and functions, and insert charts and graphs.

So...so far, so good with Google Docs spreadsheets. But, I haven't even really scratched the surface yet. Tomorrow I will dive into how well Google Docs spreadsheets handle more complex data, and how well it works with Microsoft Excel files.

Get the complete30 Days With Google Docsseries compiled into a Kindle eBook.

Day 7: Google Docs ‘Fidelity' Leaves Something to Be Desired

Day 9: Taking a Closer Look at Google Docs Spreadsheets

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