!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Advice on Designing Good Spreadsheets

Monday, June 16, 2008

Advice on Designing Good Spreadsheets

I came upon a reference in a trade publication to a short paper offering advice on best practice in designing spreadsheets, and checked it out. Unfortunately, the write-up in question, while conceptually sound, was not user-friendly and violated some best-practice principles itself (e.g., with respect to properly labeling spreadsheets).

So I followed some additional leads for practical guidance on designing spreadsheets and came upon a 2005 paper (pdf) by Philip L. Bewig, a St. Louis CPA. (I found the reference and link to the paper at the website of the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group.)

"How Do You Know Your Spreadsheet is Right? Principles, Techniques and Practice of Spreadsheet Style" is a treasure trove, well worth reading in its entirety (only 12 pages, not counting endnotes) if you have any responsibility for preparing spreadsheets.

Some items Bewig discusses may be more technical than your work with spreadsheets requires, but by going through the whole article, you will be alerted to issues you need to be aware of, and you will set yourself up for gradually increasing your spreadsheet skills.


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