Although there are many spreadsheets out there, it’s possible to identify samples of spreadsheets which seem to be very easy to read and understand. The tips I give you below will help you to be able to identify different types of spreadsheets in the most effective way.
* Text Samples: It’s quite common for a spreadsheet to have a bold headline with a series of sub-headings. These can sometimes be separated by a page or so, and provide a clear view of what each section of the spreadsheet is for. Of course, if you can find a document of this type then you will need to make sure that you can convert it into a regular word document (Microsoft Word would be a good example) and copy the formulas in. The sub-headings will help you to understand what part of the spreadsheet is for so that you can put that information into another column when creating your own.
* Text/Formula Samples: Most spreadsheets will have cells that can be expanded, like text or numbers. If these cells are in the form of a formula, then the formula must be visible in the cells. If the values appear as a sub-head under the title cell then they are a formula. If the value appears in another cell, then it is a cell reference.
* Colours: If a spreadsheet uses color in the cells, then it is most likely a color-coded spreadsheet. To be able to tell the difference between these colors, look at the labels or the image on the top row and see if they appear in one color or the other. In most cases the color of the bars is usually the same as the color of the cells, so you can be fairly confident about the color code.
* Images: If a spreadsheet has an image (eg a picture) on its top row, then that image is most likely a chart or a graph. If the image appears with bars or columns then the color of the bars or columns will generally be the same as the color of the image.
Example Accounts: If the accounts are in large type on the top row then this probably means that you have something of a sales or balance sheet. Again, this type of spreadsheet is fairly simple and is most probably a product line or accounts payable spreadsheet. You should be able to use Microsoft Excel to create a copy of this kind of spreadsheet, but this could take some time!
* Formula Samples: A spreadsheet can contain various functions, most often like the add formula function. This works by taking the values of another formula and then returning them in the same form. If the sheets are in a format where numbers and letters are interchanging then the format should be consistent throughout the document.
* Multi-Cell: This is the Excel spreadsheet that contains more than one cell. This is quite common, but can still be useful if you’re using it to test a formula which is producing odd results. To ensure that your spreadsheets all contain the same format, make sure that you use the same template to make the headers, footers and cell formats.