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

Spreadsheet bibliography

Title Spreadsheets - the good, the bad and the downright ugly
Authors Angus Dunn
Year 2010
Type Proceedings
Publication EuSpRIG
Series  
Abstract

Spreadsheets are ubiquitous, heavily relied on throughout vast swathes of finance, commerce, industry, academia and Government. They are also acknowledged to be extraordinarily and unacceptably prone to error.

If these two points are accepted, it has to follow that their uncontrolled use has the potential to inflict considerable damage. One approach to controlling such error should be to define as "good practice" a set of characteristics that a spreadsheet must possess and as "bad practice" another set that it must avoid.

Defining such characteristics should, in principle, perfectly do-able. However, being able to say with authority at a definite moment that any particular spreadsheet complies with these characteristics is very much more difficult.

The author asserts that the use of automated spreadsheet development could markedly help in ensuring and demonstrating such compliance.

Full version Available
Sample
Suggested code of good and bad spreadsheet practice

Examples of characteristics from the suggested code:

  • Required: Inputs and calculations to be modular in design.
  • Required: Each section should be independently checked.
  • Desirable: A spreadsheet should be easy to read.
  • Desirable: There must be extensive use of self checking.
  • Avoid: Inclusion of hard coded constants in formulae.
  • Avoid: The use of formulae of considerable complexity.
  • Banned: Hard coded constants in calculation areas.
  • Banned: Hidden cells and hidden sheets.
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