Worksheets and Workbooks in Excel

Excel Worksheet and Workbook Definitions
Excel Worksheet and Workbook Definitions. copy; Ted French

A worksheet or sheet is a single page in a file created with an electronic spreadsheet program such as Excel or Google Spreadsheets. A workbook is the name given to an Excel file and contains one or more worksheets. The term spreadsheet is often used to refer to a workbook, when, as mentioned, it more correctly refers to the computer program itself.

So, strictly speaking, when you open an electronic spreadsheet program it loads an empty workbook file consisting of one or more blank worksheets for you to use.

Worksheet Details

A worksheet is used to store, manipulate, and display data.

The basic storage unit for data in a worksheet is the rectangular-shaped cells arranged in a grid pattern in every worksheet.

Individual cells of data are identified and organized using the vertical column letters and horizontal row numbers of a worksheet which create a cell reference - such as A1, D15, or Z467.

Worksheet specifications for current versions of Excel include:

  • 1,048,576 rows per worksheet;
  • 16,384 columns per worksheet;
  •  17,179,869,184 cells per worksheet;
  • by default, each new file contains only one worksheet;
  • the number of sheets per file is limited only by the amount of memory available on the computer.

For Google Spreadsheets:

  • there is a maximum of 256 columns per sheet;
  • the maximum number of cells for all worksheets in a file is 400,000;
  • the current default number of worksheets for new files is one;
  • there is a maximum of 200 worksheets per spreadsheet file.

    Worksheet Names

    In both Excel and Google Spreadsheets, each worksheet has a name. By default, the worksheets are named Sheet1, Sheet2, Sheet3 and so on, but these can easily be changed.

    Worksheet Numbers

    By default, since Excel 2013, there is only worksheet per new Excel workbook, but this default value can be changed.

    To do so:

    1.  Click on the File menu;
    2. Click on Options in the menu to open the Excel Options dialog box;
    3. In the When creating new workbooks section in the right pane of the dialog box, increase the value next to Include this many sheets:
    4. Click on OK to complete the change and close the dialog box.

    Note: the default number of sheets in a Google Spreadsheets file is one, and this cannot be changed.

    Workbook Details

    • Additional worksheets can be added to a workbook using the using the context menu or the Add Sheet icon (plus sign) next to the current sheet tabs as seen in the image above;
    • It is possible to delete or to hide individual worksheets in a workbook;
    • It is also possible to rename individual worksheets and to change worksheet tab colors to make it easier to identify individual sheets in a workbook using the context menu;
    • Changing from one worksheet to another in a workbook can be done by clicking on the sheet tab at the bottom of the screen;
    • In Excel, the following shortcut key combinations can also be used to switch between worksheets:
      • Ctrl + PgUp (page up) - move to the right
      • Ctrl + PgDn (page down) - move to the left
    • For Google Spreadsheets, the shortcut key combinations to switch between worksheets are:
      • Ctrl + Shift + PgUp - move to the right
      • Ctrl + Shift + PgDn - move to the left