7 Approaches To Strengthen Excel Spreadsheet Usability

Have you ever had to use a spreadsheet that was challenging to stick to, or crammed with numbers? If you have, you will start to appreciate the significance of fantastic style and layout. The other day, an acquaintance sent me an Excel spreadsheet that he had made for his personal use, and believed may be valuable to other folks. Right here was a spreadsheet that had been made by somebody with a fantastic know-how of formulas and functions. But… it was not clear at initially glance what to do with it. Do I click on a single of these buttons? Do I need to have to enter some information? Exactly where do I enter the information?

On closer examination, these have been the troubles that created it complicated to use:

– There was no heading or title.

– It was quite dense in terms of the quantity of cells displaying on screen.

– Ranges of cells have been formatted in 5 distinct colours. What did it all imply?

– Support supplied was restricted to short comments in some cells, and some of these have been in hidden columns.

– The sections for information entry and the sections for final results have been not clearly separated.

– Macro buttons have been square in shape.

The finish outcome was that I just did not want to use this certain spreadsheet, in spite of its valuable calculations. So what could have been accomplished to make it far better? Right here are 7 recommendations that will support you build much more user-friendly spreadsheets.

1/ Look at the Finish User

Who is going to use the spreadsheet? Are they knowledgeable about Excel? Are they knowledgeable about the contents of the spreadsheet? The answers to these concerns will establish the layout, safety problems, the quantity of support supplied, and possibly the formatting.

2/ Get the Layout Proper

Typically it assists to place pen to paper and sketch the rough layout of a spreadsheet beforehand. It is less difficult to adjust issues at this stage than when the spreadsheet is properly underway.

3/ Supply Sufficient Support

There are lots of approaches to present support. It could be a heading or title that describes what the spreadsheet is or does, a comment in a cell, details that is related with information validation, details in a text box, a separate worksheet, or even separate documentation. The quantity of support supplied will be determined by how intuitive to use the spreadsheet is and also by the answer to that initially query, Who is going to use the spreadsheet?

4/ Separate Information Entry from Final results

Locations of the spreadsheet for information entry ought to be kept separate from the places that present final results of calculations. If not accomplished, it can be confusing for the finish user, and also becomes tougher to preserve the spreadsheet. This separation may involve employing separate worksheets, or just guaranteeing a clear distinction involving the two places on the a single worksheet.


As well considerably details on a single worksheet can be overwhelming, and commonly, easier is far better. The spreadsheet talked about at the get started of this write-up could have been enhanced by spreading details more than other worksheets. Other approaches to realize a easier appear are:

– Applying charts to convey details rather than tables of information.

– Rising the row height so that the worksheet is not as well dense with information.

– Shading each second row on a worksheet with a light colour exactly where there are lots of numbers.

6/ Look at the Standard Flow of a Document

The usual way to study a book, newspaper or just text on screen is left to correct and prime to bottom. Your spreadsheet ought to stick to this convention as well. The details that the user requirements to initially see or respond to initially ought to be in the prime left or prime centre.

7/ Format for Description

The rule of thumb is format for description, not decoration. What appears fantastic to a single individual can appear terrible to a further. Many colours can be confusing, and once again, commonly easier is far better. If you have made a table or a database in Excel, the headings could be bolded to separate these from the information. Maybe much more crucial than the selection of formatting is that it is constant all through the document.

Bonus Tip:

Stick with Conventions

I talked about ahead of that the buttons on the challenging-to-use spreadsheet have been square. If you appear at just about any web site employing a button, the ratio of width to height falls roughly in the variety two:1 to about five:1. Sizes as well far outdoors this variety appear a bit strange, and are not as readily identifiable as buttons.

Hyperlinks that you build in Excel can be formatted any colour you like, but unless there is a fantastic purpose, stick with the properly-recognized blue and underlined, as in, ExcelProductivityTips. The spreadsheet templates that employed to ship with Excel have been formatted with light yellow for places of information entry, and light green for final results. Some folks nevertheless use this convention.