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Bonus Tip: Stick with Conventions I mentioned before that the buttons on the hard-to-use spreadsheet were square. If you look at just about any website using a button the ratio of width to height falls roughly in the range 2:1 to about 5:1. Sizes too far outside this range look a bit strange and are not as readily identifiable as buttons. Hyperlinks that you create in Excel can be formatted any colour you like but unless there is a good reason stick with the well-known blue and underlined as in ExcelProductivityTips. The spreadsheet templates that used to ship with Excel were formatted with light yellow for areas of data entry and light green for results. Some people still use this convention.
It is easier to change things at this stage than when the spreadsheet is well underway. 3/ Provide Adequate Help There are lots of ways to provide help. It could be a heading or title that describes what the spreadsheet is or does a comment in a cell information that is associated with data validation information in a text box a separate worksheet or even separate documentation. The amount of help provided will be determined by how intuitive to use the spreadsheet is and also by the answer to that first question Who is going to use the spreadsheet? 4/ Separate Data Entry from Results Areas of the spreadsheet for data entry should be kept separate from the areas that provide results of calculations.
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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.