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Do you need more than one worksheet?
Do you need more than one worksheet?
Spreadsheet programs began as a better way to store, present, and interpret information
that previously had been kept on paper and calculated by hand, probably using a 10-key
calculator. Often, the first worksheets we created when we were climbing the old Excel
learning curve were little more than clean, two-dimensional reproductions of what we used
to do on paper. One way to step up from the old, paper paradigm is to use modular design.
Modular design is a sort of “structured programming” or “object-oriented” approach, where
you carve your data into logical chunks that make sense as standalone elements. (The other
design approach is called hierarchical , where you organize your data for error identification
and maximum readability.) Because there’s usually no need to keep detail data in any kind
of presentable format, why bother? Concentrate your worksheet beautification program on
the summary sheets and charts you need to share with others. Design a system of
worksheets instead of trying to get everything on a single worksheet. Figure 5-6 shows a
rudimentary example of modular design—that is, one worksheet contains data, and another
worksheet contains a specific type of analysis. In a complex modular system, you might
have dozens of worksheets, each dedicated to a specific task.
Have you allowed room for new data?
It’s critical to allow for expansion and editing after you have assembled your worksheet.
It’s generally a good idea to add a few extra rows and columns to the detail area and to
keep totals separate from the detail data by a row or column or two, if possible. One of
the most common editing actions you’ll perform is inserting new rows and columns. Excel
has become a lot smarter about this over the years, making obsolete some of the rules of
thumb that we old-timers have collected. But it’s still possible to mess up.
A rather famous folkloric tale tells the story of an accounting person who inserted a row
at the bottom of a range of cells but forgot to adjust the totals formulas and was fired
because his numbers were off by $200,000. The moral: Edit worksheets carefully, and always
guard against introducing new errors along the way.
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