Not everyone needs to be a programmer! You probably hear that a lot if you talk about trying to get more students to program. I know that I do. And of course there is some truth to that. But I believe programming is valuable for several reasons (learning critical thinking is one, algorithmic problem solving another, and more) and one of the commonly neglected reason is better usage of spreadsheets. Yes, spreadsheets.


Everyone knows how to use spreadsheets right? Actually no. And even many who know a little about using them take very little advantage of features that could be very useful for them. A little programming knowledge can help here.


I used to give placement tests to incoming high school students who thought they didn’t need to take a computer applications course. One part of the test was to enter data in a spreadsheet and have it show the results of some basic formulas. I could often tell who was going to do poorly – they took out calculators and used them. No, really! Clearly they didn’t “get” what a spreadsheet was all about. If they could not use the spreadsheet features to total a row or column of numbers you can imagine what else they were missing! (You can can’t you? Please?)

我过去经常给刚进大学的新生做入学分级考试(placement test),他们中大多数认为没有必要选修一些计算机课程。分级考试中有一部分要求他们在工作表中输入数据,并利用基本的函数显示计算结果。我很快能够分辨出这方面很弱的人 -他们甚至会拿出计算器来计算数据。他(她)们根本不理解电子工作表的工作原理。他们不会对一行或者一列数据求和,你能够想像一下他们缺少什么、需要补什么。

The two must useful and over looked features of spreadsheets are (in my opinion) conditionals and built in formula functions. take a look at this screen image (of Excel 2010 BTW) and just look at the categories. There are many functions under each menu item.


In programming we quickly learn to use and to create functions. It becomes part of the way we think about solving problems. In spreadsheets it can be the same. Now a lot of those functions are conditionals – things like “If” that we use in programming all the time. There is also conditional formatting.Did you know that you could set a lot of things in a cell based on their contents?

在编程实训时,我们会很快的学会如何创建和使用函数,最终利用它们来帮助我们解决问题。电子表格也是一样的。里面的很多函数都与条件相关,如果If函数 - 在编程中那可是我们拿手绝活(计算机做决策全靠它)。众所周知,Excel中很多的数据处理都有单元格中的内容相关(比如满足与数值的比较,与字符的匹配之类)。

注:great than 是大于,Less than是小于,between在。。。之间,Equal to 是等于,Text that Contains是文本包含。。。

This image shows only a few of the options included in Excel 2010 for formatting. You can add icons, background colors, data bars and more. But of course you have to understand a little about Boolean constructs and conditional coding. Not a lot really but some. While most people are not going to need programming in the sense of writing code in C# or Visual Basic or even F# a lot of people are going to be using spreadsheets to evaluate data and make business decisions. We do them a disservice if we don’t make sure they know how to use more of the advanced features that programming can help them use and understand.

上面图片显示只是Excel 2010 中一些主要格式功能选项而已。你可以增加图标、背景图片、数据条及更多。但你得去了解布尔逻辑的构造和条件代码设定。大多数并不需要通过编程(学会C#语言,VB语言或者F#语言),将来去用Excel评估数据并做商业化决策。编程的目的是帮助我们更好的理解Excel高级技能,并在工作与学习娴熟运用



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