Making your spreadsheet understandable and easy to update

For many of us, building a spreadsheet can be a one-off exercise to answer a specific issue or calculate a value. However, for others, spreadsheets can be designed to capture a year’s worth (or more) of data. And then there can be an added issue… whilst we might be designing the spreadsheet, someone else will be responsible for inputting data and, even, perhaps, amending as time goes on.

So, these issues all raise a number of questions, amongst others, some key ones are…

  • How do we remind ourselves of what that long, complex formula does?
  • How do I remember where to get the data from to input into the spreadsheet?
  • What do I need to do next having input the new data?

The answer to all three is simple: Comments

Comments in Excel

You may already have seen a spreadsheet with comments in – you can tell as there are little red triangles in the top right hand corner of a cell if there is a comment there

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If you then hover your mouse over the cell, you can see what the comment is…

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How do I insert a comment?

You can insert a comment by going to the Review Tab in Excel and selecting New Comment

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Alternatively, you can Right Click on the cell & select Insert Comment from the dropdown menu that appears

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Whichever method you choose, you end up with the same Post-It style note linked to the cell ready for you to type in your comments

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If your comment is larger than the standard sized space that you have, just select one of the fill handles (the little square boxes around the edge of the comment) with your left hand mouse button, hold that down & drag to resize. Once you’ve finished typing your comment, you click outside of the comment box & it will disappear leaving just the red triangle.

Editing a comment

Once your comment is in place, it’s easy enough to edit by, again, right clicking on the cell that has the comment & selecting Edit Comment from the dropdown…

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… which opens the comment with the cursor flashing at the end of the text that is currently there

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Once you’ve completed your edit, click away from the comment (resizing the box if necessary) to close it down

Deleting a comment

To delete a comment; again, right clicking on the cell that has the comment but this time selecting Delete Comment from the dropdown…

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Printing comments

Unless you tell Excel to do so, comments will not print. If you need them printing, then on the Sheet Tab in the Page Setup options of the print menu, you can change the default “None” to have them printed at the end of the sheet or as displayed. Don’t forget that “As displayed” may result in them obscuring some of your data

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