What Is a Table and How Does It Look in Excel? - dummies

What Is a Table and How Does It Look in Excel?

By Stephen L. Nelson, E. C. Nelson

A table is, well, a list. This definition sounds simplistic. But take a look at the simple table shown here. This table shows the items that you might shop for at a grocery store on the way home from work.

A table: Start out with the basics.
A table: Start out with the basics.

Commonly, tables include more information than shown here. For example, take a look at the table shown in the following figure. In column A, for example, the table names the store where you might purchase the item. In column C, this expanded table gives the quantity of some item that you need. In column D, this table provides a rough estimate of the price.

A grocery list for the more serious shopper . . . like you.
A grocery list for the more serious shopper . . . like you.

An Excel table usually looks more like the list shown here. Typically, the table enumerates rather detailed descriptions of numerous items. But a table in Excel, after you strip away all the details, essentially resembles the expanded grocery-shopping list shown in the figure image.

Take a closer look at the second table. First, each column shows a particular sort of information. In the parlance of database design, each column represents a field. Each field stores the same sort of information. Column A, for example, shows the store where some item can be purchased. (You might also say that this is the Store field.) Each piece of information shown in column A — the Store field — names a store: Sams Grocery, Hughes Dairy, and Butchermans.

The first row in the Excel worksheet provides field names. For example, row 1 names the four fields that make up the list: Store, Item, Quantity, and Price. You always use the first row, called the header row, of an Excel list to name, or identify, the fields in the list.

Starting in row 2, each row represents a record, or item, in the table. A record is a collection of related fields. For example, the record in row 2 shows that at Sams Grocery, you plan to buy two loaves of bread for a price of $1 each.

Row 3 shows or describes another item, coffee, also at Sams Grocery, for $8. In the same way, the other rows of the super-sized grocery list show items that you will buy. For each item, the table identifies the store, the item, the quantity, and the price.