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Felienne Hermans & Emerson Murphy-Hill


Spreadsheets are used extensively in business processes around the world and as such, are a topic of research interest. Over the past few years, many spreadsheet studies have been performed on the EUSES spreadsheet corpus. While this corpus has served the spreadsheet community well, the spreadsheets it contains are mainly gathered with search engines and might therefore not represent spreadsheets used in companies.

This paper presents an analysis of a new dataset, extracted from the Enron email archive, containing over 15,000 spreadsheets used within the Enron Corporation. In addition to the spreadsheets, we also present an analysis of the associated emails, where we look into spreadsheet-specific email behavior.

Our analysis shows that:

  • 24% of Enron spreadsheets with at least one formula contain an Excel error.
  • There is little diversity in the functions used in spreadsheets: 76% of spreadsheets in the presented corpus use the same 15 functions.
  • The spreadsheets are substantially more smelly than the EUSES corpus, especially in terms of long calculation chains.

Regarding the emails, we observe that spreadsheets:

  • Are a frequent topic of email conversation with 10% of emails either referring to or sending spreadsheets.
  • The emails are frequently discussing errors in and updates to spreadsheets.


Most used functions
Most used functions

This is a list of the 15 most used functions in the Enron corpus. There is little variety in the use of Excel's functions, with more than half of the spreadsheets using three or fewer functions.


2015, International Conference on Software Engineering, May

Full article

Enron's spreadsheets and related emails: A dataset and analysis