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

Spreadsheet bibliography

Title An empirical study of spreadsheet error-finding performance
Authors Dennis Galletta, Dolphy Abraham, Mohamed El Louadi, William Lekse, Yannis A. Pollalis, & Jeffrey L. Sampler
Year 1993
Type Article
Publication Accounting, Management and Information Technologies
Series Volume 3, Number 2, April-June, pages 79-95

Several well-founded concerns exist about the integrity and validity of electronic spreadsheets. Thirty CPAs and 30 MBA students volunteered to seek up to two errors planted in each of six spreadsheets to discover if expertise in the domain of accounting and the spreadsheet program would facilitate error-finding performance.

Subjects only found, on average, about 55% of the simple, conspicuous errors on the small spreadsheets.

As expected, both accounting and spreadsheeting expertise contributed to the subjects' error-finding rate, and those who performed this task with both types of expertise found the largest number of errors in the shortest time.

Interestingly, while CPAs were more accurate than non-CPAs in finding accounting-related errors, spreadsheet experts did not outperform novices in finding spreadsheet formula errors. Also, while spreadsheet expertise contributed to greater speed, accounting expertise did not.

Future research would further investigate the contribution of spreadsheet expertise to the error-finding task. Practitioners should be aware of the difficulties in finding even simple errors, and develop training programs to facilitate spreadsheet auditors' performance.

Full version Available
Mean number of errors found
Mean number of errors found

CPAs out-performed non-CPAs, but not by much. CPAs found only 61% of the spreadsheet errors, compared with 50% for the non-CPAs.

Experts found 57% of the errors, only slightly more than the 55% found by spreadsheet novices. The difference is not significant.

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