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Be obsessive - IT people attend to details (ATD) because in IT every little thing matters.

In this lab exercise, we'll review basic Excel spreadsheets and then work with Excel's charting/graphing capabilities.

Formatting a Worksheet

For this lab exercise¹, download this example spreadsheet: lab4-checkbook.xls. We'll try to make it look as follows:

In order to do this, do the following things:

  1. Add Checkbook Entries - Add at least 8 entries to the checkbook in the appropriate places. You don't need to use the entries given here, most any entries will work so long as you can categorize them easily.
  2. Format the Header - Select all the cells in the header, choose "Format"-"Cells" and then set the "alignment", "font" and "patterns" as you see fit.
  3. Format the Dates/Values - Select all the date cells, choose "Format"-"Cells", and format them as you see in the sample. Then do the same with the currency values, selecting the "currency" category on the "Number" tab.
  4. Write a Balance Formula - Write a balance formula for cell F3 that takes the opening balance from F2 and subtracts the withdrawals and adds the deposits. When you've got the formula, then copy it down the column.
  5. Add an Expense Type Column - Add a "Type" column to the table, format its header as you did the other headers, and then enter appropriate values for each checkbook entry.
  6. Create an Expense Type Table - Create a new expense type distribution table as shown on the bottom of the sample. It should have a row for each expense type and a formula that computes the sum of the expenses of that type.
  7. Write the SUMIF Formula - Enter in the expense-type category names by hand and then write a formula to compute the sum of the withdrawals for each type. Use the function wizard to do this by highlighting the expense type cell (C17 in the sample), choosing "Insert"-"Function", searching for the function SUMIF, clicking "OK", and then letting the function wizard walk you through the process. Your formula should look something like this:
    SUMIF(checkbook type names ($G$2:$G$13 in the example), 
                 type name condition (B17 in the example),
                 checkbook values to be summed ($D$2:$D$13 in the example))
    When your function is working, copy it down the column for each type category. Remember to put commas between your 3 arguments and to use absolute and relative references appropriately.

Creating a Simple Pie-Chart

Now, create a pie chart that shows the distribution of your expenses as shown here:

Create this pie chart as follows:

  1. Select the cell range to chart - Select the cell range of the chart, B16:C21 in this example.
  2. Create the chart - Choose "Insert"-"Chart", and select the "pie" chart type.
  3. Specify the chart settings - Work through the chart wizard trying to specify settings that will make the chart look as much like the sample as possible. You may want to try it several times to experiment with different setting values.

Choosing an Appropriate Chart

It is important to know how to choose an appropriate chart (or charts) for expressing the message you want to deliver. As discussed in class, Excel provides a number of chart/graph types, including pie charts, bar/column charts, line graphs and scatter plots. Always choose the best one for your data and message.

For this lab exercise, consider the data shown in lab4-costs.xls and answer the following questions:

Save your written answers and type them into the "Comments" field of your KV lab submission. If you do the extra credit, remember to clearly label your charts and add a note to the "Comments" field telling the grader what you've done.

A Challenge - Creating a Line Chart

For additional extra credit, you can go back to your checkbook spreadsheet and create a line chart that shows the balance of your account over time, as shown here:

Create this chart as follows:

  1. Select the Data to Plot - Select the cells containing the data and the dates you want to plot. Because these cell ranges are on different parts of the chart, you must first select the range of cells with the dates (B3:B13 in the example), and then press and hold the CTRL button to select the range of cells with the balance value (F3:F13 in the example). This will result is more complex cell range specification (B3:B13,F3:F13 in the example).
  2. Create the chart - Choose "Insert"-"Chart", choose a "line" chart, and then follow the wizard through the process of creating the chart (as you did with the pie chart above).

Getting Further Help

You can get more help on Excel charts by going to Microsoft's on-line charting tutorial: Create a Chart or by by choosing "Help"-"Microsoft Word Help" and searching for "create a chart".

Submitting your Work

Submit your budget spreadsheet as an attachment to your Lab #4 KV submission. Type your answers to the charting questions into the "Comments" field. If you did the extra credit, attach your college costs spreadsheet as well.

¹ This exercise is based on an exercise written by Jeff Nyhoff.

Last modified: Fri Jan 20 10:22:43 Eastern Standard Time 2006
© 2006 Calvin College