Spreadsheet Design:
Documentation

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
Did you want Working with Numbers: 2007/2010  or españolIcon: Change web



No matter how good your sheet design is, you cannot get everything on it that you might want to know later.

For example, you might need to know when you created or updated the sheet's design. Your sheet may have some special features or limitations that you might forget about when modifying the sheet later. Having an explanation of the what-for's and why's can save a lot of brain pain later!

This background information and the description of what you did and why is called documentation.

So, what kind of information might you need to record?

  • Names & dates - creation and revision
  • Purpose of the sheet
  • Source of data
  • Formulas used
  • Which cells are linked to which
  • Conditional formatting rules
  • Any special considerations on why you arranged the sheet this way.

For example, if you are entering data from a paper form that someone filled out, you will want the columns to be in the same order as the data on the form. That will make it easier to type in the data. Someone who is asked to revise the sheet later needs to know that!

Documenting your work this way is a hassle, but it can save a lot of confusion and aggravation in the future.


Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Numbers

Before you start...

Project 1: Excel IntroTo subtopics

Project 2: Excel BasicsTo subtopics    

Project 3: Format & ArrangeTo subtopics

Project 4: Groups & FormulasTo subtopics

Project 5: Design
    Analysis To subtopics
    FootprintAnalyze
        Documentation
    FootprintComments
    FootprintPrint Comments
        Planning
    What If...To subtopics
    Logical TestsTo subtopics
    Sharing DataTo subtopics
    Summary
    Quiz
    ExercisesTo subtopics


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Glossary
  
Appendix


Methods of Documenting

There are a number of ways you can record the reasons for your design choices.

External: You could write it down in a notebook or on index cards. But then you'd have to remember where you put them! Would a new user have access to your notes?

Internal: Having your notes in the spreadsheet somewhere would keep you from losing your notes. Which method you choose will depend on how long the notes are and how often you expect someone to need to refer to them.

  • Notes on a separate sheet in the workbook
  • Notes in blank areas of sheet
  • Notes in Comments attached to cells

A comment is attached to a specific cell. It can be displayed or invisible except for a comment indicator in the corner of the cell. If you have many notes about formulas or special considerations, using a comment makes it easy for a new user to find the notes about a specific spot on the sheet.