From the Not Just Numbers blog:
As part of my role on the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Excel Community Advisory Committee, I (along with the other members) have been asked to share my personal principles for Excel good practice – and I thought you might be interested to see them too.
So here goes…
My Ten Excel Principles:
- Always separate out the three stages – Obtaining the data, Analysing the data, Presenting the data (OAP). This makes your spreadsheet far more flexible and easy to follow.
- Never include numbers in formulae – always enter the variable in a cell and refer to the cell in the formula. This makes the spreadsheet easy to follow and to update when variables change.
- Don’t fiddle with the data – when using data from elsewhere, don’t edit it, report on it in other sheets. This minimises errors and increases efficiency.
- Use data validation where possible, to minimise data entry errors, and to make it easier to analyse and report on the data.
- Always think “Is there a way I could do this that would save me time next time?”
- Lay out data to suit Excel – not to suit the eye. Every heading, subtotal or empty column you place among the data makes it far less useable.
- Get used to using the dollar signs when you refer to cells. Used well, you can write a formula once and copy it everywhere – Saving time and reducing errors.
- Protect cells with formulae in them – it can be very difficult to find an incorrect (or missing) formula caused by accidental typing.
- Use colour and formatting (as well as descriptions) to make it obvious where data entry is required.
- Avoid merging cells unless absolutely necessary – merged cells make a spreadsheet far harder to edit.
I’m sure I will have missed a few key ones – these are very much my personal ones – and I would love to hear yours in the comments.
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