5 Tips for Improving Spreadsheet Readability

Have you noticed that some spreadsheets are easier to read than others? Of course, there isn’t much to read in most spreadsheets just column and row labels and formulas. So why do some spreadsheet authors seem to have a magic touch? They just know and follow these five simple rules:

1. Be Consistent. Many names can be expressed in more than one way. Pick one and use it in all the spreadsheets you create.

2. Be Brief. Short names are easier to read than long ones. Be careful, however, not to brief, names should also be easy for readers to define and not easily mistaken for something else.

3. Be Smart. Pick names that won’t need to be changed every month or year, such as MonthlyProfit or 1QTaxes (1st Quarter Taxes).

4. Be Specific. General names such as Sales or Taxes can apply to any number of things. NetSales and SalesTax can’t.

5. Pronounecability. OK, most people don’t read spreadsheets aloud. But they do ask questions, using names that can be said, they will also easily be read.

This article is reprinted from AccountingWEB's Weekly Business Bite of September 13, 2005.

You may like these other stories...

Regulatory compliance, risk management and cost-cutting are the big heartburn issues for finance execs in the C-suite. Yet financial planning and analysis—a key antacid—is insufficient.That's just one of the...
Continuing its efforts to simplify accounting procedures, the FASB has issued a proposed Accounting Standards Update on customer fees paid in a cloud computing arrangement. The newly-proposed update (Intangibles—...
How are you planning? What tools do you use (or fail to use) for forecasting? PlanGuru is a business budgeting, forecasting, and performance review software company based in White Plains, N.Y. AccountingWEB recently spoke...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.
Sep 10
Transfer your knowledge and experience to prepare your team for the challenges and opportunities of an accounting career.
Sep 11
This webcast will include discussions of commonly-applicable Clarified Auditing Standards for audits of non-public, non-governmental entities.
Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.