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Henk Vlootman & Felienne Hermans


Spreadsheets are widely used in industry, because they are flexible and easy to use. Often, they are even used for business-critical applications. It is however difficult for spreadsheet users to correctly assess the maintainability of spreadsheets. Maintainability of spreadsheets is important, since spreadsheets often have a long lifespan, during which they are used by several users.

In this paper, we present a checklist aimed at measuring the maintainability of a spreadsheet. This is achieved via asking several questions, and can indicate whether the spreadsheet is safe to use now and in the future. We demonstrate the applicability of our approach on 11 spreadsheets from the EUSES corpus.


The maintainability checklist asks the following questions:


  • Is there any technical description available?
  • Is there any user description available?


  • Are the sheets grouped by function?
  • Is the naming of the worksheets understandable?
  • Are calculations separated from input?


  • Are all variables placed together?
  • Is there a clear distinction between input and output?
  • The output is compact and clear?
  • Are valid Excel ranges used?
  • Are the input cells logically grouped?


  • Is normalization used on the variables?
  • In which way will the user selection be processed?


  • Are the input cells formatted consequently?
  • Are the output cells formatted consequently?
  • Are the other cells formatted consequently?
  • In which way will the user be supported?


  • Is array functionality used in the model?
  • Does the model support windows for the output?
  • Are names used in the model?
  • Are names separated in categories?
  • Are the names consistently composed?
  • Are the names consistently used?
  • Are (complex) single sided functions used in the model?
  • Does the model have nested functions?
  • Does the model have links towards other cells?
  • Does the model have absolute links or names towards other cells?


2013, EuSpRIG

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A maintainability checklist for spreadsheets