Spreadsheet Design:

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
Did you want Working with Numbers: 2007,2010,2013,2016  or españolIcon: Change web

One of the advantages of using a computer spreadsheet over using a paper one is the ability to play the "What If" game. It is a very easy game to play. Just change a spreadsheet's data to see what the effect would be. (This is safer when using a copy of the original data!)

A What-If sheet is especially useful in complex situations where a change in one value affects several other values. Another situation is when you would like to experiment with the numbers to find out what they need to be for you to achieve a certain goal.


Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Numbers

Before you start...

Project 1: Excel IntroTo subtopics

Project 2: Excel BasicsTo subtopics    

Project 3: Format & ArrangeTo subtopics

Project 4: Groups & FormulasTo subtopics

Project 5: Design
    AnalysisTo subtopics
    What If... To subtopics
    Logical TestsTo subtopics
    Sharing DataTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics


A Sample What If sheet: Grade Calculator

Background Info: You would like to figure out if you can get a A in a course, which requires an average of 90 or greater. Suppose your grade is made up of 50% test average, 25% homework average, and 25% quiz average. Sometimes there are extra assignments which let you can earn extra points that are added to your test grades. Below is an example of a spreadsheet for calculating your grade using these rules.

You will have 2 more tests, 2 more graded homework sets, and 2 more quizzes. Can you raise your grade to 90?? By using the sheet as a What-If sheet, you can plug in various combinations of grades to see if it is possible to get your A.

Sample What-If sheet: Grade CalculatorClick on illustrationClick on the illustration to see three sets of additional grades:

a.  All remaining grades = 100
     (Wouldn't that be cool! Not very likely to happen though.)

b.  All remaining grades = 90
     (Not bad but since the current grade is less than 90, it won't average ABOVE 90, will it?)

c. All remaining grades = 90 plus two 10 point bonuses.

The last one rounds up to 90 - an A! But, can you actually do it?? That's always the real question.

Experiment with Grade Calculator

If you use one of the links below, the sheet will open in your browser and you can work with it there. Pretty neat!

If the Grade Calculator appears in your browser, when you are done you can use the BACK button on the browser to return to this page. You do not have to save your results.

Open grades.xls from the resource files at
 c:\My Documents\complit101\numbers\grades.xls 
or download grades.xls now.

  • Experiment by entering various grade combinations.
  • What grades do you need to add in order to get the average you want?
  • What is the worst you can do on the remaining grades and still keep the B (Average of 80 to 89) that you currently have. Remember, you must add 2 more scores in each category, except the bonus points.

This kind of What-If game can really help you see how the various parts affect the outcome.