Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Adding Different Types of Data
Types of Data
When you have multiple spreadsheets open at the same time, you need to take a little
more care when closing a window so you don’t accidentally close the entire Excel
application—unless you want to. Here are your choices:
• You can close all the spreadsheets at once . To do so, you need to close the Excel
window. Select File ➝ Exit from any active spreadsheet, or just hold down Shift
while you click the close icon (the infamous X button) in the top-right corner
of the Excel window.
• You can close a single spreadsheet . To do so, right-click the spreadsheet on
the taskbar and click Close. Or switch to the spreadsheet you want to close (by
clicking the matching taskbar button) and then choose File ➝ Close.
Note: One of the weirdest limitations in Excel occurs if you try to open more than one file with the same
name. No matter what steps you take, you can’t coax Excel to open both of them at once. It doesn’t matter
if the files have different content or if they’re in different folders or even different drives. When you try
to open a file that has the same name as a file that’s already open, Excel displays an error message and
refuses to go any further. Sadly, the only solution is to open the files one at a time, or rename one of them.
Adding Different Types of Data
Now that you’ve created a basic worksheet, and you’re acquainted with Excel’s spiffy
interface, it’s time to get down and dirty adding data. Whether you want to plan
your household budget, build a sales invoice, or graph your soaring (or plunging)
net worth, you first need to understand how Excel interprets the information you
put in your worksheet.
Depending on what kind of data you type into a cell, Excel classifies it as a date, a
number, or a piece of text. Over the next few pages, you’ll learn how Excel makes up
its mind and how you can make sure it makes the right decision.
One of Excel’s most important features is its ability to distinguish between different
types of information. A typical worksheet contains both text and numbers. There
isn’t a lot you can do in Excel with ordinary text (other than alphabetize a list,
perform a simple spell check, and apply some basic formatting). On the other hand,
Excel gives you a wide range of options for numeric data. For example, you can
string your numbers together into complex calculations and formulas, or you can
graph them on a chart. Programs that don’t distinguish between text and numbers—
like Microsoft Word, for example—can’t provide these features.
Most of the time, when you enter information in Excel, you don’t explicitly indicate
the type of data. Instead, Excel examines the information you’ve typed in and, based
on your formatting and other clues, classifies it automatically. Excel distinguishes
between four core data types:
• Ordinary text . This data type includes column headings, descriptions, and any
content that Excel can’t identify as one of the other data types.