More about Spreadsheets

Have you ever found a receipt in your jacket pocket a month or two later? With a paper journal it may not be possible to tuck it in sequence where it belongs. With a spreadsheet, it’s as easy as one-two-three:

  1. select the nearest date,
  2. Insert a new line, and
  3. type that outlier where it belongs.

Insert is so frequently used that it deserves its own menu. In Google Sheets the option exists to insert either before or after a row or column. You don’t even need to insert an entire row or column.  Insert one or more cells, and move the others down or right. If you make a mess, use ctrl+z to undo.

Subtotal columns

Another extension to the Expense Journal from last session is the ability to subtotal by category. For example, to add subcategories for advertising, office expense, and professional development, type column headings like ADVERT, OFFICE, and PROF D in separate cells to the right of AMOUNT.

  1. For each row, activate (by clicking or tapping) the empty cell under the appropriate heading. Check that the cell you intend is outlined in blue.
  2. Click the AMOUNT entry. The data entry box should show =C5 or something similar, indicating that the value equal to that of column C row 5 should be stored in the active cell.
  3. Enter, check that the value appears in the correct category, and repeat.

To sum every column, select the sum above AMOUNT and drag through the row beyond the right-most column. When you release, you will see “marching ants” around the selected cells. Enter to propagate the summation formula across each column. If you want the total of subtotals to agree with the original sum, add a column for OTHER.


If you are old enough to remember balancing a checkbook (5 + 8 = 13; write down 3 and carry the 1), you can imagine how the expense journal format of the previous post could be modified for that chore as well. Post expenses with a minus sign; adding a negative number is the same as subtracting.
Insert a BALANCE row and column to the right of AMOUNT. You will have to enter the beginning balance. Then

  1. Select the cell to the right of the income or expense amount.
  2. Type the equal sign, indicating that you plan to enter a formula.
  3. Select the amount cell, to the left.
  4. Type the plus sign.
  5. Select the previous balance cell, above. The data entry box should look something like =C6+D5 with no spaces.

Enter to calculate the new balance, sum of the previous balance and the new income or expense.

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