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Here was a spreadsheet that had been created by someone with a good knowledge of formulas and functions. But... it was not obvious at first glance what to do with it. Do I click on one of these buttons? Do I need to enter some data? Where do I enter the data? On closer examination these were the problems that made it difficult to use: - There was no heading or title. - It was very dense in terms of the number of cells showing on screen. - Ranges of cells were formatted in five different colours. What did it all mean? - Help provided was limited to brief comments in some cells and some of these were in hidden columns. - The sections for data entry and the sections for results were not clearly separated. - Macro buttons were square in shape.
The end result was that I just did not want to use this particular spreadsheet despite its useful calculations. So what could have been done to make it better? Here are 7 tips that will help you create more user-friendly spreadsheets. 1/ Consider the End 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 questions will determine the layout security issues the amount of help provided and possibly the formatting. 2/ Get the Layout Right Often it helps to put pen to paper and sketch the rough layout of a spreadsheet beforehand.
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Look for a font that is without serifs as they are easiest on the eyes. I would stick with black type but if a cell calls for more emphasis you may want to use a different color to signify a positive or negative. Use bold and italics when appropriate to let this information stand out from the rest. These features are outstanding for titles and headings. Try to make the font as large as you can to fit in the cell. Ten point is a good and readable size. There s nothing worse than having to squint to read the information on your spreadsheet. If you can t read it chances are good that the people you re preparing the spreadsheet for won t be able to read it either.