From the Not Just Numbers blog:
In my previous post, I stated that one of the major problems with how most Excel users lay out their data, is using a column for each category.
In the feedback I have had from that post, it was felt that this point needed further explanation and/or an example, so I thought I would provide both here.
First of all, here is the point as it appeared in the original post (it was point number 3):
Don’t group data by putting it in different columns (THIS IS THE ONE THAT ALMOST EVERYONE GETS WRONG)
- Don’t split out financial or numerical data into separate columns to categorise the data into months, expense categories, customers, agents, etc.
- Do have one column for the financial or numerical data and create a column for month, expense category, customer or agent, to categorise each row;
- You can use data validation drop-down lists to select the appropriate category for each row;
- This one is counter-intuitive because in any report, you will almost certainly will want a column (or row) for each of these categories – but if you do this in the data you will massively restrict what you can do with it.