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Beware the Octopus Spreadsheet - Oz du Soleil

octopus spreadsheet2So many spreadsheets require basic math, but poor layout makes a spreadsheet unnecessarily complicated and brittle. They don’t need sophisticated dashboards, forecasts, statistical analysis, or connections to a database. They just need to perform basic tasks like:

  • Tally how many new customers subscribed in the past month
  • Track the details of a wedding
  • Calculate a small company’s payroll

When I’ve come across an octopus spreadsheet it’s easy to see that the developer was making conscious, intuitive decisions. Often, the starting point is with a single task. However, over time, more tasks are needed, the data gets more complex, more tentacles are added … eventually … yup … an octopus.

In this video, I go through the thinking process of good spreadsheet development and avoidance of the octopus.

Here’s video where I show how to use dropdown lists to control spreadsheet layout.

Excel Bloggers Whose Use Good Spreadsheet Layout

Check out these Excel bloggers. A lot of their work goes beyond stand-alone tips. They build tools and weave Excel’s features together. Pay attention to where they put things and how they keep their spreadsheets integrated.

Debra Dalgleish youtube.com/user/contextures
Mynda Treacy myonlinetraininghub.com
Kevin Lehrbass youtube.com/user/MySpreadsheetLab
Chris Newman thespreadsheetguru.com
Mike “ExcelIsFun” Girvin youtube.com/user/ExcelIsFun/

Guerrilla Data Analysis 2nd Edition

Spreadsheet layout is so important that I added it to my book (available at Amazon.com): Guerrilla Data Analysis, 2nd Ed.
Electronic version can be purchased here.

gda cover

Octopus print courtesy of Vecteezy