Good Spreadsheet Design

Posted on April 23, 2015 By

What makes a great spreadsheet?

  • Information is easy to find.  When I’m noodling on a project, I have more a free form spreadsheet that I create.  When I’m presenting the information, it’s tight, controlled and has only the required information.  There are notes to clarify who and what is being presented.
  • Fonts & Bolding & Colors are not out of control.   There are hundreds of color combinations that you can use in a spreadsheet.  The most that you should use is three.  Other than than, it’s gets too confusing for readers.  If you must use more, make sure you include a legend for people know what color means what.
  • Any Calculations are easy to understand.  Not that the calculations need to be simple.  But if you label a column as product gross profit.  Darn it.  It should be about a product and it should calculate gross profit for that product.
  • Titles.  Each one should reference the company or project, the statement/title, and the dates that it shows.  Boring stuff, but it will help you out years later when you are trying to look at work that you have already completed.  And they do start looking alike after a while.
Laura Dodson
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Laura Dodson

Laura Dodson, CPA is a Seattle Financial Planning & Analysis consultant.She has attended Western Washington University, Pierce College and Bates Technical College. She has written four accounting instructional books. She has worked for small family businesses, mid-sized businesses and a Fortune 500 company.She founded and operated Blue Stone Accounting LLC for five years.She currently runs Paper Butterfly Forge LLC.
Laura Dodson
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