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What Is Google Sheets?

What is Google Sheets header
Sheet's is a free spreadsheet tool from Google. Image credit: ProfileTree

What is Google Sheets? The best way to answer this is to consider Microsoft Excel, the most well-known and ubiquitous spreadsheet software. Sheets is Google’s alternative, which has steadily grown in popularity over the past number of years.

Indeed, it offers many of the same functionalities as Excel. That is, to some degree, a spreadsheet is a spreadsheet. It’s designed to store, organise, manipulate and visualise any kind of data you throw at it.

The interface for data entry, adding formulae and creating tables and graphs is essentially the same. However, there are still a couple of big differences to keep abreast of.

Read on to find out all you need to know!

The great thing about Google Sheets is that it is web-based, so it can be used anywhere on any device. To share it you only have to share the link. Your files are also stored in the cloud, meaning that you can access them from any device, without the need for physical media.

Amazingly, Sheets is completely free, as part of the overall Google Docs suite.

You can also download it to work offline, and you can custom code your own sheets to fit your particular needs. You can also configure the sheets to gather data, which makes your work even easier!

What is Google Sheets: How does it Differ from Google Docs?

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Google Docs and Sheets are two different but related tool. Image credit: Google

While both Google Docs and Google Sheets are part of Google Drive’s online tools, they have some important differences. You could say the difference is between words and numbers, but it is more than that.

Google Docs is an editing and information system that is based on the web. You can create documents in the Docs program. These can be stored on the web and accessed by anyone you give the link to.

Documents can be edited and used by different people. In other words, it’s a cloud based word processor.

Google Sheets are similar in how they work but are more focused on tables, charts, and numbers. These are spreadsheets, and that is the main difference from Google Docs. Google Drive is a web-based file storage system that is hosted in the cloud.

It also integrates directly with Sheets, Docs and Slides. When you click on a supported file in Google Drive, it opens automatically in the relevant GSuite program, meaning that you can perform most of your office-related tasks in your browser.

How to Gather Survey Data in Google Forms

Google Sheets are great spreadsheets and holders of data. To get your data into the sheets though, you need a form to use, and that is what Google Forms are all about. Google Forms are one of the tools in Google’s GSuite.

Sheets and Docs are also tools in that group.

You use forms for writing, or for saving data into your sheets. You may also gather data using the forms. Google Forms are free and are included in the Google program. Simply go to the program and create a form by clicking a link.

From there you can create the form you need to create your sheet. You can create as many tables, rows, graphs or whatever, as you like. You can link this to the spreadsheet, and feed it the data you want to be collated or organized.

You can then send your survey out to users in Google Forms. Their responses are automatically populated in your spreadsheet. Responses can be either quantitative or qualitative.

How to Make a Chart in Google Sheets

How to Gather Survey Data in Google Forms

Google Sheets are great spreadsheets and holders of data. To get your data into the sheets though, you need a form to use, and that is what Google Forms are all about. Google Forms are one of the tools in Google’s GSuite.

Sheets and Docs are also tools in that group.

You use forms for writing, or for saving data into your sheets. You may also gather data using the forms. Google Forms are free and are included in the Google program. Simply go to the program and create a form by clicking a link.

From there you can create the form you need to create your sheet. You can create as many tables, rows, graphs or whatever, as you like. You can link this to the spreadsheet, and feed it the data you want to be collated or organized.

You can then send your survey out to users in Google Forms. Their responses are automatically populated in your spreadsheet. Responses can be either quantitative or qualitative.

How to Make a Chart in Google Sheets

Chart in Google Sheets screenshot
Making a chart in Google Sheets is incredibly simple. Image credit: Google

Making a chart is very simple once you get a feel for how the program works. Create the Google Sheet first, and then create your forms. Create the tables, label them, and then feed in the data from the forms. Google does the rest.

All you have to do is select the relevant cells, and select a design from the chart menu.The cool thing is you can make adjustments and the forms will adjust the entire presentation for you.

You can also seamlessly use these charts in Google Docs or Slides, Google’s free alternative to PowerPoint.

What is Google Sheets used for

The simple answer is Google Sheets is used to create, update, and modify spreadsheets. It is similar to Excel in that you can create a spreadsheet and update it automatically. The differences between the two mainly relate to how the data is stored and accessed.

Let’s use a sports analogy to explain how this works.

If you were keeping stats for a baseball team, you would put in the stats for each game as the games were finished. The sheet would automatically compile the stats into season totals. You could also organize it so you could see game by game results as well as season totals.

Google sheets and the entire suite of tools are web applications, so readily available as long as you have an internet connection. Once you create your documents you can use them offline as well, and publish them online at a later time and they will be automatically updated.

The program works on just about all browsers. There are also apps to allow you to use them with your phone. Another bonus is that this system allows for a lot of collaboration. This is crucial in the era of distributed workforces.

This is one of the reasons that Google Sheets is gaining ground on its competitors.

In Sheets, spreadsheets can be opened and edited by multiple users, even at the same time. None of them have to pay a license fee. Users are able to see changes made by others in real time.

In theory, two people, or more, could be editing the same document at the same time.

Google sheets two colleagues collaborating image
Google Sheets makes collaboration on data-based projects incredibly easy, even for users in remote locations. Image credit: Scott Graham

Another feature that protects the data is the “suggested edit” feature. This is where a suggestion is added, or alternative data is added to the document but does not change the original. Whoever is primarily working on the sheet can then implement the change.

There are also places to add comments which do not affect the original document. This way you can exchange messages back and forth as the spreadsheet is used or prepared. You can then resolve these once a solution has been reached.

New Google Sheets Features

Recently an “action item” feature was added. This feature allows one person to assign part of the project to one person, and the program will make that notification to the person assigned.

Google sheets make creating datasets and spreadsheets easier. It also takes using them to a new level.

Also recently Google created a means for third-party developers to alter the programming of the sheets, through the use of an API This means you can create new apps or new programs and make them compatible with your Google sheets.

Google Sheets, as well as the whole suite of tools, is free. You may use it online at any time, and with an app or an extension, you can use them offline as well. This works great for individuals and small businesses.

There are more detailed, and more capable programs available for larger businesses. These come with a monthly subscription.

Additional Functions in Google Sheets

There is a find and replace tool, which is something that is as old as word processors, but it is still a valuable tool. You may also use this extension to copy and replace to other documents and even to other computers that are linked.

There is also cross-format functionality that will allow you to open Microsoft Office documents, whether they be a doc or a spreadsheet file. This is crucial, especially when working with external stakeholders who primarily work in Office.

These days, with near constant access to high speed internet, cloud-based professional programs have become a viable alternative to their desktop equivalents.

Given that Google Sheets remains free, while Excel has moved to a subscription model, this is quickly becoming the preferred spreadsheet tool for organisations around the world. Switching to GSuite is an easy way to save money on your software stack.

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