Help, Please - I'm an Excel Moron
July 26, 2008 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I have to create an excel sheet to keep track of a book budget - in the most basic terms, I will have a total budget figure, and I want to subtract invoice figures to keep a running total. Here's an example of what I want the sheet to look like: The simpler the better.

OK, I hate excel, math, formulas - I am a math moron, and what's worse - I simply don't care. I have TRIED to teach myself Excel several times, and I still can't manage even the simplest task. Since I have taught myself many complex things via books over my lifetime (I am a librarian, afterall), I can only assume it's because I have almost no natural math aptitude, and even less interest, if that's possible. SO, I am looking for the simplest answer to this question - how do I get the numbers in column D to subtract from 3,000 as people place orders?

If you can me the "why" in SIMPLE terms, feel free. I tried to Google this (naturally), but I didn't find what I was looking for - just a lot of Excel jargon that is as good as gibberish to me.

posted by coollibrarian to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put this in cell D6: =D5-C6
Select that cell and copy it into cells D7, D8, D9, D10, etc. as far down as you think you'll go.
Enter your invoice amounts starting in cell C6.
You will have a running balance in Column D.

That's probably the easiest way to do it.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 9:03 AM on July 26, 2008

I think you're thinking about this way too much.

Take the total from the cell above, subtract the amount spent, and display total in the row with that sale.

For example, with that first sale you would take 3,000 (the cell above; in this case D5) and subtract the amount spent (taken from C6). This would be displayed in D6.

Formula would look like this: =D5-C6. Really, that's it. Just fill it down the column and you should be good.

I can throw one together or you really quick if you want.
posted by theichibun at 9:05 AM on July 26, 2008

Thanks - both of you!! I have done what you said, and I'm all set.
I am SO tempted to ask why you don't change the values for each cell (D6-D7 and so on), but this is probably exactly why I can't do stuff like this....
Thanks again!!
posted by coollibrarian at 9:41 AM on July 26, 2008

To answer that question, click on one of the cells in column D that you copied into. Now look at the 'formula bar', just under the menu bar. You'll see that Excel has automagically changed the formula to fit. That's called 'relative addressing', the formula has changed relative to where it is. The opposite is called 'absolute adressing', should you ever wish to learn a bit more about it.
posted by punilux at 10:05 AM on July 26, 2008

posted by coollibrarian at 10:08 AM on July 26, 2008

Uh oh!!! The formula bar doesn't change, and the amount only changes for the first figure (line 6). Subsequent figures do nothing to the total, and it looks like the formula stays the same (and hence nothing changes). Now what? do I have to manually change the formula for each line, or is there a setting I can change? This is my bad for not checking thoroughly enough....
posted by coollibrarian at 12:02 PM on July 30, 2008

Sigh, never mind, I figured it out!
posted by coollibrarian at 12:26 PM on July 30, 2008

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