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10 Common Spreadsheet Mistakes You’re Probably Making

10 Common Spreadsheet Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Spreadsheets are a stable in the business world. If you work anywhere in money, finances, business, or anything similar to those then you likely use a spreadsheet. They’re even used in the military to keep track of supplies. With so many people in so many industries using spreadsheets, you would imagine that people make a lot of errors. Correct! Here are ten common spreadsheet mistakes that you’ve probably made before.

common spreadsheet mistakes

    1. Mistakes in spreadsheet logic

    Spreadsheets are notoriously strict with things like order of operations. If you don’t type your equations and formulas in properly, you will get the wrong math which can wreck an entire spreadsheet. Thankfully there is something you can do about that and it’s simply a matter of using more parenthesis. Put parts of your equations in them in order to get the desired effect.

    common spreadsheet mistakes

      2. Misuse of built-in functions

      A single wrong letter in a function can change its entire meaning. For instance, AVERAGE will ignore all text and false entries. AVERAGEA converts all text and false entries to zero. That one letter can totally change the outlook and values in your spreadsheet. Companies have misused functions and had wrong values in their spreadsheets for years and it caused damage of millions of dollars. If you’re using a function, then double check to make sure you’re using the right ones.

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      common spreadsheet mistakes

        3. Not copying all the cells you need

        When you work with spreadsheets, there can be a lot of copying and pasting. It’s a very common problem that people don’t select all the cells they need to copy and paste into the next workbook. If you don’t, you’ll have missing information. That can cause a lot of problems if it isn’t caught. Since spreadsheets can get ridiculously big, this is actually harder than it sounds. If you have 15 years of financial history and you only copy ten years of it, you may not catch that right away.

        common spreadsheet mistakes

          4. Keep your data entry and formula cells separate

          Formula cells and data entry cells should never be anywhere near each other. The reason for this is relatively simple. If you put values in the formula cells that are supposed to be in the data entry cells and vice versa, then you can seriously mess up your books. When you keep them separate, you run little risk of mixing the two up and that keeps your books and your bosses happy.

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          common spreadsheet mistakes

            5. Save only when you need to

            This one seems odd but it’s true. You should only save when you need to. This bit of advice flies right in the face of the oft-told advice to save frequently. Here’s why you should only save when necessary. Assuming you hadn’t made a mistake up to the point when you opened a saved spreadsheet, you went through the project with a spreadsheet without a mistake. If you make a mistake and save it for a bunch of times, then your mistake gets saved and you won’t be able to recover your flawless copy later. Thus you should only save when you know what you just did was correct.

            common spreadsheet mistakes

              6. Create new spreadsheets if you want to experiment

              If you want to play around with your spreadsheets, you should make a copy and alter that instead. You should never tinker with your main spreadsheets because you could lose your original copy in the event that you accidentally saved. To avoid what could be a cataclysmic mistake, do yourself a favor and keep copies.

              common spreadsheet mistakes

                7. Give new cells a range name

                Range names can help you keep things organized. You can sort by range name and it helps you find information more quickly. It only makes sense that if you create new cells that you should give them a range name. Not giving new cells a range name can limit how they’re sorted and searched which can make them hard to find. You’d be surprised how many people add new cells to a huge spreadsheet and don’t give them range names. It makes things cluttered and more difficult to work with.

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                common spreadsheet mistakes

                  8. Delete range names when you delete all of its cells

                  You should also delete range names when you delete all of its cells and it’s for exactly the same reasons as number seven. When you make major changes to your spreadsheet, you need to update everything around the change in order to ensure proper documentation. Not doing so can cause others to re-enter information that was supposed to be deleted and can also hinder things like searching and sorting.

                  common spreadsheet mistakes

                    9. Check your math

                    This seems like an obvious mistake but it’s absolutely essential. A company named Fidelity once had their books messed up by $2.6 billion over a silly minus sign. You can imagine what effect this had with investors and with the company’s higher ups. One tired night and you tap the minus sign on accident and you can make your company look like it has gained $1.3 billion more than it actually earned. Make sure you check even the most basic arithmetic you perform.

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                    common spreadsheet mistakes

                      10. Have someone double check your work

                      Most of the largest mistakes made in the world of spreadsheets came from people not double checking their work. This mistake is then transferred up the chain of command without anyone else seriously checking everyone else’s work, and it can result in horrible problems. If you work with spreadsheets, then you should find someone to check yours every now and again to make sure the numbers add up. If you’re in charge of people who work on spreadsheets, then you should double check their work more often. An article from 2013 posits that 88% of spreadsheets have an error in them. That’s not a promising number.

                      At the end of the day it comes down to just paying attention. When your eyes stare at tiny numbers in tiny blocks all day long, they’re bound to start missing things. Make sure you take a step away from the computer every now and then and give your eyes and your brain a break. Spreadsheets are great but they’re also very tedious and it’s very easy to make a mistake if you’re not paying attention.

                      Featured photo credit: Sunoray via sunoray.com

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                      Last Updated on August 29, 2018

                      5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

                      5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

                      Journaling is one of the most useful personal development tools around. Not only does it help us process emotions and experiences, work through internal conflicts and improve our self-awareness, it also provides us with a way to keep a day-to-day record of our lives. Traditionally an activity limited to pen and paper, the expansion of consumer technology has enabled journaling to go digital.

                      Saving your journaling entries online enables you to access them from anywhere, without having to carry a notebook and pen around, and provides you with digital features, like tagging and search functions.

                      Here are a list of five online journaling tools you can use to bring your practice into the modern age:

                      1. 750words

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                      750 words

                        750words is a free online journaling tool created by Buster Benson. The site is based on the idea of “Morning Pages”; a journaling tool Julia Cameron suggests in her creativity course The Artist’s Way. Cameron advises aspiring creatives to start each morning with three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing to clear away the mental clutter, leaving you with a clearer mind to face the day.

                        750 words is the three-page digital equivalent (assuming the average person writes 250 words per page) and lets you store all your journaling online. Each morning, you’ll receive a prompt asking you to write your 750 words, and the site keeps track of various statistics associated with your entries. The site uses a Regressive Imagery Dictionary to calculate the emotional content from your posts and provides feedback on features like your mood, and most commonly used words.

                        750 words is simple to set up and is ideal for anyone who finds it challenging to maintain a consistent journaling practice. The site uses a number of incentives to motivate users, including animal badges awarded to journalers who complete a certain number of days in a row, leader boards, and opt-in monthly challenges.

                        2. Ohlife

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                        ohlife

                          Ohlife is designed to make online journaling as easy as possible. Once you’ve signed up for your free account, the website will send you an email each day asking “How did your day go?” Simply reply to the email with as much or as little detail as you like, and your response will be stored on your account, ready to view next time you log in.

                          Ohlife’s appeal lies in its simplicity: no stats, no social sharing, no complicated organisational systems—the site is designed to provide you with a private, online space. Simply respond to the email each day (or skip the days you’re busy) and Ohlife will do the rest.

                          3. Oneword

                          oneword

                            OneWord is a fun online tool that provides you with a single word as a prompt and gives you sixty seconds to write about it. The concept’s aim is to help writers learn how to flow, and the prompts range from the everyday mundane to the profound.

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                            Oneword is not a private journaling tool: if you sign up, your answers will be published on the site’s daily blog, which contains a stream of users’ answers, and might be used by Oneword in the future. If you’d rather keep your answers to yourself, you can still use the tool for fun without giving out any personal details.

                            4. Penzu

                              Penzu is a journaling tool that allows you to store your journaling notes online. The service also offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry, so you can journal on the go and save your notes to your account. The basic service is free, however you can upgrade to Penzu Pro and get access to additional features, including military-grade encryption and the ability to save and sync data through your mobile, for $19 per year.

                              With either version of Penzu, you can insert pictures, and add tags and comments to entries, as well as search for older entries. You can set your posts to be private and viewable by you only, or share them with others.

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                              5. Evernote

                              Evernote isn’t a purpose-built journaling tool, however its features make it perfect for keeping your journaling notes in one safe place. With the ability to keep separate “notebooks”, tag your entries, include pictures, audio and web clipping, Evernote will appeal to journalers who want to include more formats than just text in their entries.

                              Available online within a web browser, and as a stand-alone desktop app, the service also comes with a series of mobile apps covering almost every device available. These allow you to make notes on the go and sync between the mobile and browser versions of the app.

                              For additional features, including text recognition and the ability to collaborate on Notebooks, you can upgrade to Evernote’s premium service, which costs $5 per month.

                              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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