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Chapter 4. Worksheet Design Tips > Does the Worksheet Rely on Imported Data?

Does the Worksheet Rely on Imported Data?

Many people work with data that is compiled elsewhere as the basis for their worksheet analyses. For example, a database located either on your computer or somewhere on a network is often the repository for specific information that you extract and analyze. If this is the case, try to make it easy on yourself. Often, we use the “ad hoc” approach to working—that is, we do it quickly, when it's needed, with no particular attention paid to repeatability. If you gather information from a database, you might be able to construct queries that you can execute again and again, on whatever schedule you need, rather than starting from scratch each time. This way, you can ensure that the imported data will be structured in exactly the same way each time. Then you might use the structure of the imported data as the basis for your worksheet design. Or it might make sense to keep the imported data on a separate sheet that no one will see, and to construct nicely formatted sheets you can use to extract only the pertinent information. For example, Figure 4-6 shows just such a worksheet. You can see that the raw data is on a separate sheet behind the information sheet.

Figure 4-6. You can put raw imported data on its own sheet and use a formatted sheet to present the pertinent information.


Cross Reference

For information about using information stored elsewhere, see Chapter 29, “Working with External Data,” as well as the chapters in Part 4, “Collaboration and the Internet.”


Databases, Fields, and Records

Sometimes when you say the word “database,” you can watch people's eyes glaze over in anticipation of a barrage of incomprehensible terminology. While using a database program can be overwhelmingly complex, consider that many of the worksheets you'll create in Excel (such as the underlying sheet in Figure 4-6) are actually rudimentary databases. The telephone directory is an example of a database in printed form. In database terminology, each phone listing in the directory is a record of the database, while each item of information in a listing (first name, last name, address, and telephone number) is a field of the record.


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