Spreadsheet tips with Lotta Rosenkallums
Data cells and formula cells
©2004, Information Disciplines, Inc., Chicago
Some cells on a spreadsheet contain data, while others contain formulas
that refer to other cells. Unfortunately, spreadsheet processors don't
enforce any discipline in distinguishing between them. If a user
accidentally enters data into a formula cell, the original formula is
destroyed and results are almost certain to be in error.
Spreadsheet processors provide several ways of distinguishing between
data cells and formula cells:
- You can set the background color.
- You can designate protection for certain cells, to disallow
- You can conceal some of the formula cells:
- in a hidden column, or
- on another worksheet or layer
Formal spreadsheet models should use a combination. Specifically:
- Give data entry cells a distinctive background color. Light blue,
gray, or yellow are easy on the eyes. Cells containing formulas,
identifiers, tables, or other fixed information should be white.
- Specify cell protection for all cells except those intended
for data entry, i.e. the ones with the colored background.
- Use hidden columns and supporting worksheets to simplify what the
user sees and to facilitate future change.
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Last modified May 15, 2004