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ExcelHandout - A Guide to Using Excel in Physics Lab Excel...

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1 A Guide to Using Excel in Physics Lab Excel has the potential to be a very useful program that will save you lots of time. Excel is especially useful for making repetitious calculations on large data sets. It keeps track of your numbers, and can do the math for you. It does, however, have a learning curve that can be rather steep. Hopefully, this handout will make Excel more accessible and easier to use. In the meantime, remember the first law of computer use: computers are amazingly powerful, and equally stupid. Data Entry: We will begin with how to enter data into an Excel spreadsheet. When you open a new file in Excel, you will see a blank page (spreadsheet) with a lot of little boxes (cells) that says “Book1” in the upper left hand corner. Book1 is simply the default filename, which will change once you save and name your file. All Excel files will appear as “Filename.xls”, just as Word documents are “Filename.doc”. Entering data directly into the spreadsheet is fairly straightforward; you pick a column, label it accordingly, and enter your data. So if you had measured, say, the distance an object had traveled x and had 10 data points, you would label column A [ x (m)], and enter your data down the column filling up rows until row 11. See Fig. 1 for a visual. Calculations: You can also perform calculations in Excel. If, for example, you measured the time it took an object to cover a known distance, and want to know the velocity, you can use Excel to do the calculation. After entering the time and distance data into the spreadsheet, you will have two columns of data, labeled distance and time. You can now make a third column, labeled velocity. In this column you will not enter data, but a function. If distance is in Column A and time is in Column B, then you would put “=A2/B2” in the Column you labeled velocity, say Figure 1: Suggested layout for data.
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