20 principles all Excel users should follow. Do you?

It’s time to sharpen those spreadsheets with this nifty guide – and the best part? It’s totally FREE!

Ensure those spreadsheets are up to scratch with these twenty principles. Put together by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (the ICAEW) and written by 17 Excel experts, The Twenty Principles for Good Spreadsheeting Practice is THE guide for anyone using Excel.

The idea

“To help reduce the amount of time wasted, and the number of errors caused by businesses (including accountancy practices) as a consequence of the way they and their employees use spreadsheets.” [ICAEW.com (2017) Original Link]

We’re all aware of the consequences of spreadsheet errors, so take a look at the below. It’s Excel GOLD!

The 20 Principles

1. Determine what role spreadsheets play in your business, and plan your spreadsheet standards and processes accordingly

2. Adopt a standard for your organisation and stick to it

3. Ensure that everyone involved in the creation or use of spreadsheets has an appropriate level of knowledge and competence

4. Work collaboratively, share ownership, peer review

5. Before starting, satisfy yourself that a spreadsheet is the appropriate tool for the job

6. Identify the audience. If a spreadsheet is intended to be understood and used by others, the design should facilitate this

7. Include an ‘About’ or ‘Welcome’ sheet to document the spreadsheet

8. Design for longevity

9. Focus on the required outputs

10. Separate and clearly identify inputs, workings and outputs

11. Be consistent in structure

12. Be consistent in the use of formulae

13. Keep formulae as short and simple as practicable

14. Never embed in a formula anything that might change or need to be changed

15. Perform a calculation once and then refer back to that calculation

16. Avoid using advanced features where simpler features could achieve the same result

17. Have a system of backup and version control, which should be applied consistently within an organisation

18. Rigorously test the workbook

19. Build in checks, controls and alerts from the outset and during the course of spreadsheet design

20. Protect parts of the workbook that are not supposed to be changed by users


Cut out those errors today and check out the The Twenty Principles for Good Spreadsheeting Practice in more detail here.

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The EwB Team