Entering data in cells

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Sometimes the best learning comes from just doing something and thinking about it later. To that end, we've encouraged you to enter data in spreadsheet cells as you learned about other functionality (inserting, deleting,...). And with any luck, you've been successful. So now that you've experienced 'data entry', let's explore the content or data that can be entered into cells.

How Calc treats different types of data

Data entered into cells may be of three types - numeric, text or date.

Numeric data

If a set of pure digits, that is any combination of 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, or 9, are typed in a cell, Calc treats the data as numeric; arithmetic operations may therefore be carried out on such data. The default alignment for numeric data is right justified, such that numbers in columns are decimal-aligned.

If a single apostrophe is typed in front of a set of digits (e.g., '1234), Calc will treat the numbers as ordinary text. Numbers specified as text values cannot be used to perform arithmetic operations.

Text data

When you want to enter text in a cell click on the cell in which you want to enter the text and type. The default alignment for text data is left justified.

As you saw in the previous activity, text will flow over from one cell to the next as long as the subsequent cells are empty. But note that the cell in which you started typing actually contains all of the text (no matter how many cells the text covers).

Icon activity.jpg Explore
Let's add a title to the Expenses spreadsheet that we've been working on.
  • Insert a new row above the current row 1.
  • Select A1.
  • Type "Expense Budget for June 24, 2020 Widget Conference"
New title displays in row 1

The title displays, overflowing into cells B1-D1.

Oops, you've typed the wrong date. The conference is scheduled for June 28, not June 24.

We need to revise the date. Hmmm, June 24 displays in cell B1.

  • Select B1 and try to revise the text.... You're right, it's not possible to revise the text using cell B1. Why?

Note that when cell B1 is selected, the Input line, in the formula bar, is blank.

  • Select A1. Aha, the Input line displays the full title.
  • Click on the date listed in the Input Line. Delete and retype the date to be June 28.
Revised text in the Input line

Just a reminder to save your spreadsheet as you work, it's a good habit to get into.

Did you notice?

You can revise data entered in a cell, in two ways:

  • Double click in the cell that contains the data.
  • Select the cell and click once in the Input line.

A blinking upright line cursor, | , displays indicating you are in data edit mode.

Date data

If you enter numbers in a format that Calc recognises as a date, Calc will treat the entry as a date and reformat the contents of the cell into the default date format. Interestingly, what Calc interprets as a date and the format to which Calc converts it, depends on the locale settings of your operating system. For example, in Canada, 20 Sep 2008, 20 September 2008, 20.09.08, and 20-09-2008 will all be interpreted by Calc as dates and Calc will reformat these as 20/09/08 in all cases.

If you wish these not to be interpreted as dates, precede the entry with a single apostrophe and the data will be interpreted as text.

When the entry in a cell is interpreted as a date, certain types of date arithmetic can be performed. For example, two dates can be subtracted to yield the number of days between them. If a number is added to a date, this is interpreted as a number of days and the result will be another date.

Icon activity.jpg Explore
Let's add a due date to our Expense spreadsheet.
  • Insert a new row below the title, a new row 2.
  • Type "Due Date" in A2.
  • Enter a date (in whatever form is familiar to you) in B2.

Hopefully, your system interprets your entry as a date. If not, try a different format.

Due Date added in row 2

Tips & tricks for entering data

  • You may have noticed that when you press Enter after you have completed your data entry, the cell below is selected.
  • To move to the right, press Tab instead of Enter.
  • You may also use the direction arrows to move to an adjacent cell.
  • You can change the default setting for what cell Calc selects next when Enter is pressed.
    • Select Tools > Options.
    • In the left side bar, expand the OpenOffice.org Calc heading, by clicking on the + sign.
    • Select General, in the sub-listing.
    • In the Input Settings option, note that Press Enter to move selections is checked.
    • Choose a direction in the drop down box on the right: Down, Right, Up, or Left, .
    • Click OK.