Tutor profile: Launa F.
Subject: Microsoft Excel
You have two different sets of information, or worksheets, you have pulled from an inventory database. One set includes product description and quantities on hand. The other sheet includes item cost and pricing information. Produce a new sheet containing item number, product description, quantity, inventory cost, selling price, and date produced.
As long as both sheets contain a reference number in common - and usually this will be the case if they are pulled from the same database - you can combine the fields you need into a new sheet. In this case, we have the item number reference field in both sheets, and this can be used as a key field to pull in other fields. There is more than one way to do this. You can append the information from the second sheet to the first sheet and create a pivot table. This allows you to pull out only the fields you need, add totals, etc. This is a great tool if you have large amounts of data that will be updated and used over and over. Pivot tables can be difficult to learn, but once understood they are worth the trouble. There is even a new add-in for Excel called Power Pivot that is free for Microsoft 2010 and 2013 users. This one also has a learning curve, but it allows you a birds eye graphical view of all the sheets in your workbook - and lets you drag and match reference fields, automatically creating related tables. Pretty cool tool! The older and possibly quicker approach if you want to just quickly pull in a few fields for a one-time analysis, is the VLOOKUP function in Excel. Although this function may seem a little daunting at first glance, it's quite easy if you use the formula wizard. You simply click on the reference field in your 1st sheet (1st formula parameter); then go to the other sheet and choose the range of fields you want to pull in. The key here is that the range must start with the reference field in column 1 (e.g., range E4:K257 - E must be the reference field). Your 3rd step is to enter the number of the column within the range you chose, that contains the field you want to pull in (e.g., if Item Cost is in column J, you would enter the number 6 for parameter #3 of the formula). Finally, the fourth parameter is designated as optional - but I have never had the formula work properly without entering "FALSE" as the 4th parameter. This causes Excel to pull in only exact matches. Having said that, it's important to note that vlookup will have some problems if you have multiple instances of a reference number. It will go down the list from top to bottom, and it will pull in the first instance it comes to. So you have to have unique reference numbers to use this.
What is one of the most common grammar errors?
One of the most common mistakes that poses difficulties for a lot of writers is improper use of verbs - whether it is lack of subject-verb agreement (singular vs. plural) or mixed verb tenses. There are simple rules to follow for verb plurality, but this seems a commonly misunderstood area of grammar. Basically, a singular noun requires the use of a singular verb. A compound subject using or or nor would call for a singular verb. As far as verb tenses go, when writing a paper, choose a tense and stick to it. There are three basic tenses - past, present, and future. Then you can apply perfect tense (indicating an action that has recently ended is continuing into the present) to a simple tense by choosing the appropriate helping verb from the list of have, has, had, shall or will; and pairing it with the past participle of the main verb. E.g., if you are writing in past tense, you could say: I went to the movie, but it had already started when I arrived. [For future perfect tense you would use shall or will combined with have, along with the past participle of the main verb.] You can use progressive tense (indicating that an action is, was, or will be continuing into the future) with any simple tense. You do this by adding "ing" to your verb and adding the appropriate helping verb. E.g., I was making my bed. To form the perfect progressive tense, you would use one or more of the helping verbs will, shall, have, has, or been paired with the past participle of the main verb. E.g., I had been working on the project every night when I got the call. As you can see, verb tense can get very complicated -- and staying 'on tense' is one of the great challenges of writing.
What is the difference between direct and indirect costs for a manufacturing concern, and how do they affect Cost of Goods Sold?
Direct costs are product costs that can be directly traced to an item produced, such as the plastic used to create a travel mug. Indirect costs are product costs that are necessary to produce the finished goods for sale, but cannot be easily traced to an item produced - such as small amounts of glue used to hold the mug together. Both direct and indirect costs are categorized as either materials or labor, and can be fixed or variable (though salaries are often fixed). Direct costs are simply added directly to the cost of items produced. Indirect costs are added using an estimation of some sort - often total indirect costs per unit is developed (the indirect ratio) for use in applying indirect costs to the finished product. Product costs go into inventory on the Balance Sheet, and also are added in to Cost of Goods Sold on the Income Statement when the product is sold. Indirect costs such as selling and advertising costs are not necessary to manufacture the finished product, so these are classified as period costs and not product costs. Period costs are not included in Cost of Goods Sold.
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