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Chapter 4. Worksheet Design Tips > Which Data Should Be in Rows, and Which in C...

Which Data Should Be in Rows, and Which in Columns?

Sometimes this is rather obvious, but generally speaking, you'll want the data that will be most abundant to fill rows rather than columns. Consider the readability of your data when you make this decision. For example, a month-oriented worksheet like the one in Figure 4-1 can work well with the month labels either across the top or down the left side of the worksheet. But in this case, having the month labels down the side makes it is easier to view the worksheet on-screen and easier to fit it on a printed page. The worksheet in Figure 4-1 contains only four columns of detail data, but if your worksheet has more categories of detail data than the number of months, you may want to run the months in columns instead.

Figure 4-1. Monthly total worksheets are often oriented vertically, as shown here.


Usually the detail you accumulate in a worksheet best fits into rows from top to bottom— relatively speaking, a deep and narrow worksheet. It is not unheard of to build a spreadsheet that is shallow and wide (only a few rows deep, with lots of columns), but you might regret it later. A shallow and wide sheet can be annoying to deal with if you must continually scroll to the right to find information and deal with odd column breaks when printing. And once you've got the worksheet filled with data, it's very time consuming to change it—especially when it could have been designed differently from the start.

You may also prefer the worksheet to be long rather than wide so you can use the Page Up and Page Down keys to navigate on-screen. When oriented horizontally, the worksheet shown in Figure 4-1 would still work, as shown in Figure 4-2, but you would have to scroll to the right to view all the data.

Figure 4-2. Worksheets are often harder to view and print when oriented horizontally.


Note

The sample files used in this chapter's examples, Humongous.xls, Pacific Sales.xls, and Alpacas.xls, can be found on the book's companion CD.


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