The quality and reliability of spreadsheets is known to be poor.
Bishop & McDaid (2007)
Spreadsheets are alarmingly error-prone to write.
Paine (2001)
Spreadsheets are commonly used and commonly flawed.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2008)
A lot of decisions are being made on the basis of some bad numbers.
Ross (1996)
It is irrational to expect large error-free spreadsheets.
Panko (2013)
A significant proportion of spreadsheets have severe quality problems.
Ayalew (2007)
Spreadsheet shortcomings can significantly hamper an organization's business operation.
Reschenhofer & Matthes (2015)
Programmers exhibit unwarranted confidence in the correctness of their spreadsheets.
Krishna, et al (2001)
Spreadsheets contain errors at an alarmingly high rate.
Abraham, et al (2005)
Despite overwhelming and unanimous evidence... companies have continued to ignore spreadsheet error risks.
Panko (2014)
Spreadsheets... pose a greater threat to your business than almost anything you can imagine.
Howard (2005)
Spreadsheet development must embrace extensive testing in order to be taken seriously as a profession.
Bock (2016)
Your spreadsheets may be disasters in the making.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2006)
Spreadsheet errors are still the rule rather than the exception.
Nixon & O'Hara (2010)
Spreadsheet errors are pervasive, stubborn, ubiquitous and complex.
Irons (2003)
Overconfidence is one of the most substantial causes of spreadsheet errors.
Sakal, et al (2015)
Spreadsheet errors... a great, often unrecognised, risk to corporate decision making & financial integrity.
Chadwick (2002)
Every study, without exception, has found error rates much higher than organizations would wish to tolerate.
Panko (1999)
1% of all formulas in operational spreadsheets are in error.
Powell, Baker, & Lawson (2009)
Even obvious, elementary errors in very simple, clearly documented spreadsheets are... difficult to find.
Galletta, et al (1993)
Spreadsheets are often hard, if not impossible, to understand.
Mireault & Gresham (2015)
Studies have shown that there is a high incidence of errors in spreadsheets.
Csernoch & Biro (2013)
Spreadsheets can be viewed as a highly flexible programming environment for end users.
Abreu, et al (2015)
Untested spreadsheets are riddled with errors.
Miller (2005)
The software that end users are creating... is riddled with errors.
Burnett & Myers (2014)
Research on spreadsheet errors is substantial, compelling, and unanimous.
Panko (2015)
60% of large companies feel 'Spreadsheet Hell' describes their reliance on spreadsheets.
Murphy (2007)
Spreadsheets are notoriously error-prone.
Cunha, et al (2011)
Spreadsheets are more fault-prone than other software.
Kulesz & Ostberg (2013)
94% of the 88 spreadsheets audited in 7 studies have contained errors.
Panko (2008)
People tend to believe their spreadsheets are more accurate than they really are.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2006)
Spreadsheets are extraordinarily and unacceptably prone to error.
Dunn (2010)
Spreadsheets have a notoriously high number of faults.
Rust, et al (2006)
Most executives do not really check or verify the accuracy or validity of [their] spreadsheets...
Teo & Tan (1999)
Developing an error-free spreadsheet has been a problem since the beginning of end-user computing.
Mireault (2015)
...few incidents of spreadsheet errors are made public and these are usually not revealed by choice.
Kruck & Sheetz (2001)
Spreadsheet errors have resulted in huge financial losses.
Abraham & Erwig (2007)
Every study that has looked for errors has found them... in considerable abundance.
Panko & Halverson (1996)
Never assume a spreadsheet is right, even your own.
Raffensperger (2001)
Spreadsheets are the most popular live programming environments, but they are also notoriously fault-prone.
Hermans & van der Storm (2015)
The untested spreadsheet is as dangerous and untrustworthy as an untested program.
Price (2006)
Errors in spreadsheets are as ubiquitous as spreadsheets themselves.
Colbenz (2005)
Despite being staggeringly error prone, spreadsheets are a highly flexible programming environment.
Abreu, et al (2015)
Most large spreadsheets have dozens or even hundreds of errors.
Panko & Ordway (2005)
Spreadsheets are dangerous to their authors and others.
Durusau & Hunting (2015)
Errors in spreadsheets... result in incorrect decisions being made and significant losses incurred.
Beaman, et al (2005)
The results given by spreadsheets are often just wrong.
Sajaniemi (1998)
The issue is not whether there is an error but how many errors there are and how serious they are.
Panko (2007)
It is now widely accepted that errors in spreadsheets are both common and potentially dangerous.
Nixon & O'Hara (2010)
Spreadsheets are easy to use and very hard to check.
Chen & Chan (2000)

Spreadsheet bibliography

Title Spreadsheet safety: Designing the perfect file
Authors Jennifer Kreie & John Pendley
Year 1998
Type Article
Publication Journal of Accountancy
Series Volume 186, Number 5, November, pages 31-34
Abstract

In recent years, spreadsheets have taken on a role far more important than they had in the pre-computer days: shaping business strategies and being used increasingly for ongoing projects by many different people who need to go in and out of a file, to add material and even to customize the output for their specific needs.

This presents a new challenge for the spreadsheet developer, who must design the file so it cannot be accidentally altered by an inexperienced user.

Here are steps to ensure safe spreadsheet design:

  • Decide what you want the spreadsheet to do. List the data to be used and the output you want. Then identify the calculations needed to produce that output.
  • Lay out the spreadsheet structure and, if necessary, divide it into logically related sections, such as identification, description, model, documentation and macros.
  • Create the spreadsheet. Familiarize yourself with the use of absolute and relative cell references. Its proper use is critical to the success of the input, calculation and output areas.
  • Test the spreadsheet by selecting a set of test values, and then test the results independently of your spreadsheet.
Full version Available
Sample
Modular design: Documentation
Modular design: Documentation

The documentation module includes detailed explanations about the application. It may contain specific clarifications such as data format, identity of protected cells, special printing instructions or any other important information the developer wants to include.

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