Excel has been the most widely used spreadsheet software for both Windows and Apple Macintosh computers for over fourteen years. Ask anyone which spreadsheet application they are using and Excel will outweigh any other. The figures speak for themselves with over 500 million users.

Excel's popularity stems from the fact that it can turn a complex task into an easy one click solution. It is clearly the preferred data management system for trillions of companies throughout the UK. Whilst this is all very impressive, there is another unique feature to this program which is hiding in the background. This innovative software can be transformed into a drawing implement allowing you to unlock your creative genius in no time at all. Breathtaking landscapes and abstracts can be created by manipulating background colours, words, symbols and letters. Cell preferences can also be changed to produce eye catching border designs and patterns.

The concept behind this type of artwork is a continuation of ASCII art. This is a way of designing complex graphics using just numbers and characters and many find that Excel provides the perfect platform to create these impressive designs. ASCII drawings inspired an entourage of budding artists who now use Excel to produce their own individual expression of art.

A quick search on the internet brings up an enchanting little village made purely from square shaped cells. This must have taken a tremendous amount of time to complete but it produced a breathtaking piece of art.

Inspired by how Excel could transform photos into pixelated works of art, some programmers hand coded programs such as Excel/Art Freeware to make it easier to automatically convert graphic files into an Excel masterpiece. Many people feel that this program is a form of cheating and therefore not true art. They feel that changing the background of each cell manually is more of a skill and are therefore appreciative of work that is hand produced in Excel. However, it is still pretty hard not to feel amazed when you view a recreated version of the Mona Lisa radiating at you from a gridded spreadsheet.

Another way of creating art is by manipulating the spreadsheet manually with a little help from Excel. In the program, you can insert a background image (like your dog or a wine bottle) and use this as a guide to trace the cells above it using the paint bucket tool. When you have finished, you simply erase the background image and you are left with a perfect piece of unique art!

If you fancy a bit of freestyle drawing, use the freehand drawing mode in Excel which will allow you to create less blocky art. Other interesting features which fall out of the spreadsheet function include translating languages, designing textiles such as quilts, 3D animation, manipulating physical robots, creating piano music and a game of chess to name but a few. Although Microsoft never intended Excel to be used for these purposes, they are equally amazed at how imaginative and creative people have been whilst operating their software.

Games such as Pac-Man, Boulder Dash, Pong and Frogger have been rewritten entirely using an Excel spreadsheet. And last but not least, one of the wackiest inventions ever created using Excel has to go to a music enthusiast with 'too much time on his hands'. This person actually animated the entire music video to AC/DC's Rock 'n' Roll Train using only keyboard characters!

Go on... Excel in everything - even art!