Delete What You Don’t Need

Treat transferring a spreadsheet like you would treat the process of renting your house via Airbnb. Most people realize it will stay neater if you clean it first. Mess stimulates mess, and neatness stimulates neatness. Remember that in an average spreadsheet there will be 12 different users that have to use it after you! What do you think happens when this chain starts with a messy file?

Excel Guideline 05: Delete What You Don't Need :: PerfectXL

So, create a draft calculation first, and throw it away when the definitive calculation is ready. Also, when you create pivot tables or graphs for data analysis, throw them away as soon as you no longer have need for them.

Worksheets That Aren’t Used

The most common, and infamous, spreadsheet mess is a worksheet that is no longer in use. We visit customers weekly, experienced spreadsheet users, who tell us “ow, just ignore that sheet, we don’t use that anymore”. I think you can guess what we tell those customers… throw it away! Not only because it is hard for the next user to judge whether it can be thrown away, but also because often, there are numbers in there that are in use. However, they have not been updated in months and they go unnoticed. You will only discover that this is happening when you clean out your spreadsheet.

But Maybe I’ll need it Later?

What to do when you are in doubt? Sometimes you do not know whether a worksheet is still in use. In that case it is best to save the spreadsheet with a clear name, like “report July 2017 incl. alternative cashflow calculation,” and then delete the extra worksheet and save the file under its original name. This way you can always go back to the older version of the spreadsheet to find the worksheet you deleted, and you don’t have to worry about removing the worksheet in question.

Of course, we advise the use of PerfectXL for this situation as well. Our visualization tool shows which worksheets are being used in one simple, easy to read overview.

Excel Guideline 05: Delete What You Don't Need - Spreadsheet Visualization :: PerfectXL

An extra tip: take a look at named ranges (via formulas -> name manager). Are there any unused ranges in there? Delete what you don’t need!

A tidy house means less work after rental, positive reviews on Airbnb and a guarantee of renting it out again. So treat your spreadsheets the same way, keep them nice and tidy so that the next user feels inclined to do the same!

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