Simon Selkrig, Strategize Financial Modelling,, Montreal, QC

Article series: Avoiding financial spreadsheet mistakes

Part 2 of 3

Referencing files from an email

This is a classic rookie error. Users of the spreadsheet have no idea about the source of the data, because the spreadsheet developer has merely referenced numbers from an Excel file attached to an email. Not only will these links be difficult to audit, but it is likely the spreadsheet will lose the links and suffer #REF! errors in the workbook. Thus, it is vital to reference the source file from its original source in the first place, or save the email attached files to a relevant hard drive as per the following screenshot (via a model import sheet).

Inconsistent font, sizing and colour formatting

As the following example of a company’s financials show, it is important to make the spreadsheet cosmetically consistent and appealing. Try to adopt a uniform regime in your spreadsheet, in terms of the same font, but with different sizes between “Income Statement”, “Revenue” and specific business unit name for example. You could Implement a policy where all data inputs are in blue, mixed cells are in purple or green and output/calculated cells are in black. It will greatly improve the user-friendless and auditability of your spreadsheet, as the following screenshot demonstrates.

Check out the rest of the articles in the series Avoiding financial spreadsheet mistakes:

  1. Avoiding financial spreadsheet mistakes: Structure, hard-coding
  2. Avoiding financial spreadsheet mistakes: Email referencing, formatting
  3. Avoiding financial spreadsheet mistakes: Data links, formulae

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