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Spreadsheet applications

Spreadsheet applications, such as Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3, are used by number crunchers to do all sorts of statistical analyses, invoices, budgets, grading sheets, simple and complex forms, and more. You can use a spreadsheet to create exceptional tables to organize information into easy-to-read columns. You can convert information into charts and graphs that can be colored and formatted for presentations and printed directly from the spreadsheet application onto desktop printers. Charts and graphs from a spreadsheet can be imported into word processing documents and printed to desktop printers.

However, the information in spreadsheets does not import easily into professional page layout programs. This means you may need to convert your tables to plain text or recreate them as tables in other software to get professional-level results.

Here are some other guidelines to follow if you want to insert information from a spreadsheet into a page layout application:

  • Don’t copy and paste charts and graphs from spreadsheet files into page layout software. Although you may get something that looks okay on the screen, it will often cause problems when printing.
  • Try to use a dedicated illustration program such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw to create charts and graphs instead of a spreadsheet application. These programs have better control for colors, lines, and professional output. They are also much less likely to cause printing problems later on. One way to accomplish this is to export the data from the document as ordinary text and then import it into a program that creates tables and graphs.
  • If you don’t have access to a professional illustration program, look for an export feature in the spreadsheet program that allows you to export charts and graphs as PDF files. (PDF stands for “Portable Document Format” and is covered in Chapter 17.) This PDF can then be placed into the layout program.
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