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why were certain analytical approaches incorporated in the design, what assump-
tions were made, and what were the alternatives considered? You might view this as
justification or defense of the workbook design.
There are a number of choices available for documentation: (1) text entered
directly into cells, (2) naming cell ranges with descriptive titles (e.g. Revenue,
Expenses, COGS, etc.), (3) explanatory text placed in text boxes, and (4) comments
inserted into cells. I recommend the latter three approaches—text boxes for more
detailed and longer explanations, range names to provide users with descriptive and
understandable formulas since these names will appear in cell formulas that refer-
ence them, and cell comments for quick and brief explanations. In late chapters, I
will demonstrate each of these forms of documentation.
Provide convenient workbook navigation— Beam me up Scotty! The ability to
easily navigate around a well designed workbook is a must. This can be achieved
through the use of hyperlinks . Hyperlinks are convenient connections to cell loca-
tions within a worksheet, to other worksheets in the same workbook, or to other
workbooks or other files.
Navigation is not only a convenience, but also it provides a form of control for the
workbook designer. Navigation is integral to our discussion of “ Design workbook
layout with users in mind. ” It permits control and influence over the user’s move-
ment and access to the workbook. For example, in a serious spreadsheet project it
is essential to provide a table of contents on a single worksheet. The table of con-
tents should contain a detailed list of the worksheets, a brief explanation of what is
contained in the worksheet, and hyperlinks the user can use to access the various
Organizations that use spreadsheet analysis are constantly seeking ways to incor-
porate best practices into operations. By standardizing the five general practices,
you provide valuable guidelines for designing workbooks that have a useful and
enduring life. Additionally, standardization will lead to a common “structure and
look” that allows decision makers to focus more directly on the modeling content of
a workbook, rather than the noise often caused by poor design and layout. The five
best practices are summarized in Table 1.2.
Table 1.2 Five best practices for workbook deign
Think workbooks not worksheets—Spare the worksheet; spoil the workbook
Place variables and parameters in a central location—Every workbook needs a Brain
Design workbook layout with users in mind—User friendliness and designer control
Document workbook content and development—Insert text and comments liberally
Provide convenient workbook navigation—Beam me up Scotty
1.6 A Spreadsheet Makeover
Now let’s consider a specific problem that will allow us to apply the best prac-
tices we have discussed. Our friends Julia and Ram are meeting several weeks after
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