This article outlines 18 best practices for working with data in Google Sheets.
It’s a compilation of my own experiences of working with data in spreadsheets for 15+ years, along with the opinions of others I’ve worked with and reports and articles I’ve read online.
By no means is it meant to be exhaustive or the last word on the subject, but if you follow these guidelines, you should have a robust data workflow.
Following these best practices for working with data will make you and your team work more efficiently and reduce the chance of errors (human or computer) creeping in. It’ll make your work easier to follow and understand, and add value to your team’s or client’s workflow process. It’s a good habit to have, and it’ll serve you well as you progress with your data career.
- Organize your data
- Keep a backup copy of your data
- Document the steps you take
- Go with wide-format data tables
- Use good, consistent names
- Use data validation for data entry
- Even better, use Google Forms for data entry
- One cell = one piece of information
- Distinguish columns you add
- Don’t use formatting to convey data
- Add an index column for sorting & referencing
- Format the header row
- Freeze the header row
- Turn formulas into static values after use
- Keep copies of your formulas
- Create named ranges for your datasets
- Avoid merged cells
- Tell the story of one row
Data Analysis with Google Sheets, teaching you how to make data-driven decisions in Google Sheets, is launching at the beginning of August.