Spreadsheet Models for Managers

Getting Access to Spreadsheet Models for Managers

If Spreadsheet Models for Managersyou use Excel to model businesses, business processes, or business transactions, this course will change your life. You’ll learn how to create tools for yourself that will amaze even you. Unrestricted use of this material is available in two ways.

As a stand-alone Web site
It resides on your computer, and you can use it anywhere. No need for Internet access.
At this Web site
If you have access to the Internet whenever you want to view this material, you can purchase on-line access. Unlimited usage. I’m constantly making improvements and you’ll get them as soon as they’re available.

To Order On Line

Order "Spreadsheet Models for Managers, on-line edition, one month" by credit card, for USD 69.95 each, using our secure server, and receive download instructions by return email.
Order "Spreadsheet Models for Managers, on-line edition, three months" by credit card, for USD 199.00 each, using our secure server, and receive download instructions by return email.
Order "Spreadsheet Models for Managers, downloadable hyperbook edition" by credit card, for USD 199.00 each, using our secure server, and receive download instructions by return email.

To Order by Mail

Make your check payable to Chaco Canyon Consulting, for the amount indicated:
  • For the download: USD 199.00
  • For access online for three months: USD 199.00
  • For access online for one month: USD 69.95
And send it to:
Chaco Canyon Consulting
700 Huron Avenue, Suite 19C
Cambridge, MA 02138

To use the course software you’ll need some other applications, which you very probably already have. By placing your order, you’re confirming that you have the software you need, as described on this site.

Spreadsheet Models for Managers

This reading is especially relevant for Session 1Windows and Macintosh Compared

Microsoft Excel is available for both Windows (Excel 2007+) and Macintosh (Excel 2011). The versions are very similar, but they aren’t identical. This page should help you get used to the Mac version if you’re familiar with Windows, or vice versa.

On the Mac, many menu commands have keyboard equivalents using the Command key. For example, Command+W is equivalent to the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+W for the menu command File>Close (Excel 2010 and 2013), or Microsoft Office>Close (Excel 2007). A good guess (but not always correct) is that any keystroke Command+<Key> on the Mac is equivalent to Ctrl+<Key> on Windows. The Option key on the Mac is generally equivalent to the Alt key in Windows. Esc in Windows is equivalent to Command+Period on the Mac, and Backspace in Windows is Delete on the Mac. These are guidelines only, and there are some exceptions.

Entering data can be a little more convenient if you know some of the keyboard shortcuts available in Excel. You can see them all in online help — search for keyboard shortcuts. Until you get familiar with what’s there, it might be helpful to print them all. The procedure for doing that varies with the version of Excel that you have, but in Excel 2013, you visit the topic “Keyboard Shortcuts in Excel” and then print. We’ve already done that for you for Excel 2007 (Windows), or for Excel 2010 (Windows), or for Excel 2013 (Windows), or for Excel 2011 (MacOS).

Note:Excel 2008 for Macintosh doesn’t support VBA macros. Excel 2011 for Macintosh does support macros, and thus you can use it for this course, with one exception: you’ll need a different version of Excel for Problem Set 6, because Excel 2011 lacks some of the features we use.

Context menus

Excel has a number of “context menus” that give you access to a short list of commands in special situations. For example, there is a menu of commands for dealing with worksheets, including commands for inserting a new sheet, deleting the selected sheets, and so on. Generally speaking, to pop up a context menu in Windows Excel, you click the Right mouse button, and on the Mac, press Ctrl while you click the mouse button.

Context menus are available on the Cell, Control, Ribbon Area (Excel 2007+), Row Headings, Column Headings, Workbook Title Bar, Sheet Tabs, Select All Button, Sheet Tab Scroll Buttons, Worksheet Cells, Drawing Objects, chart components, selection borders, and many more. Here’s a game you can play with your teammates: find the complete list of context menus. And if you happen to find one we haven’t listed above, do tell us.

Formula bar

When you’re editing a cell’s formula, a number of commands are available from the keyboard. Differences between the Mac and Windows are a little more noticeable here. Fortunately, most of the commands that are inconsistent are also fairly arcane. For example, to enter the current time, you use Command+Semicolon on the Mac and Ctrl+Shift+Colon in Windows.

But three commands we will use are worth describing. First, the command to enter an array formula is Command+Enter or Command+Return or Ctrl+Shift+Enter or Ctrl+Shift+Return on the Mac, and Ctrl+Shift+Enter in Windows. Second, the command for cycling among mixed, relative, and absolute references is Command+T on the Mac and F4 in Windows. Third, when a range of cells is selected, and you enter a formula into one of the cells, you can automatically fill that formula across the range by completing it with Option+Enter instead of Enter or Return (Macintosh), or Ctrl+Enter instead of Enter (Windows).


The ribbon for Excel 2011 and the ribbons for Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013 are different. If you use Excel 2011, there are good references on the Web, explaining the differences. One example is a page from Excel Semi-Pro.

Other actions

If you use manual recalculation, you’ll want to recalculate from time to time. On the Mac, F9 or Command+= recalculates, but in Windows, only F9 recalculates. On the Mac, Command+Y repeats the last action and Command+Z undoes it. In Windows, F4 repeats the last action and Ctrl+Z undoes it. To edit the active cell, use Ctrl+U on the Mac and F2 in Windows. To select a compound range (a range of cells consisting of two or more contiguous ranges), or a non-rectangular range of cells, select the first area by dragging through it, and then use Ctrl+Drag (Windows) or Command+Drag (Mac) for each succeeding area.

Last Modified: Wednesday, 27-Apr-2016 04:15:26 EDT

Deciding What to Read

The first homework assignment has a fair amount of reading attached to it. Some students feel that the best approach is to read it all, and then try to do the homework. For most of us, such an approach doesn’t work very well.

Before you begin the course, read the general material, such as “Getting Started,” “Software You Need for This Course,” and “How to Work.”

Later, as you begin the homework, let the homework drive your reading choices. For instance, the first homework assignment does require that you master certain techniques. Read “Names” and “The Ripple Principle.” Then, if something confuses you, read up on it: examples are “The Basics of Recalculation” and “References.” Learning something when you need it, and only when you need it, is usually the best way to go.

Avoid Redundant Parentheses

Parentheses sometimes make a real difference. For instance A1*B1+2 is very different from A1*(B1+2). But A1*(B1*2) is exactly the same as A1*B1*2. When the parentheses don’t make any difference in the value of the result, it’s not usually a good idea to include them. They tend to make the formulas harder to read, and there’s always the chance that you’ll put them in the wrong place. More