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

Spreadsheet bibliography

Title Information integrity in end-user systems
Authors David Chadwick, Joan Knight, & Phil Clipsham
Year 1997
Type Article
Publication Integrity and Internal Control in Information Systems
Series Volume 1, December, pages 273-292
Abstract

Much research has been undertaken towards determining why programming errors occur during systems development and this has resulted in improved techniques for use by practitioners and teachers.

However, little research has been done on errors occurring in end-user applications such as spreadsheets that are not developed under formal system development guidelines. The approach taken in the research reported here is that many of these errors are due to an education process that concentrates on teaching 'how to do things correctly' but ignores 'how to avoid doing things incorrectly'.

Research into the development of spreadsheets has identified common errors made by end users in industry and by students whilst learning. It has been shown that there is a correspondence between industry and education in the types of errors made. From this has developed an approach which, in addition to teaching correct methods of building systems, implicitly addresses the common errors identified above.

Full version Available
Sample
Example spreadsheet
Example spreadsheet

This simple example spreadsheet was used throughout the research. Students and experienced industry users made similar errors, including:

  • Incorrect use of built-in functions.
  • Relative/absolute reference copying errors.
  • Overwriting cells.
  • Circular reference errors.
  • Faulty logic.
  • Inconsistent formatting.
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