Ensoll’s rules for efficient, effective & effortless Spreadsheets

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

1. Pack the data in tight;

2. Get rid of that spare white space;

3. Create maximum data in a single view,

both on screen and when printed;

4. Leave no gaps to fool a filter;

5. Know your filter short cuts;

6. Know your navigation short cuts;

7. Minimise that formatting to just what

you need to make it easy to see on

screen and in print;

8. Extra formatting is just wasting time on pretty stuff you don’t need to make sense of

numbers. Do it later, if presentation for specific audiences matter;

9. Get a bigger screen with higher resolution;

10. Get reading glasses and move the screen closer;

11. You won’t go blind, despite what your parents told you;

12. Get a second or third screen, capital cost is very low, productivity improvement is pretty

much instant;

13. Use navigation short cut keys to speed up your processing (Ctrl+ arrow(s), Home, End, Page

Up, Page Down, and learn to combine with "Shift" key to control ranges. also Shift+SpaceBar

to highlight a row or Ctrl+SpaceBar to highlight a column;

14. Pick 3 excel functions you currently use mouse commands for;

15. Find their shortcut commands, like the next 3 examples;

16. ALT OHR = Rename Sheet;

17. ALT PRS = Set Print Area;

18. ALT OCA = auto-fit column width (eliminates wasted white space);

19. Write them on post-it-note paper and stick them to the edge of your PC screen for quick

reference when you need to use the command next;

20. Start learning them with a trial practice run;

21. Then repeat 3 x before switching from learning mode back to active work mode;

22. There is always more to learn about using technology tools to get better, stronger, faster;

23. Use Ctrl+S to Save your work regularly, auto-save is good but not perfect;

24. Use =subtotal(9;YourRange:here) instead of =sum(YourRange:here);

25. Reboot when you see any spinning circles;

26. Ask for your data in CSV format so you can code, sort, filter, subtotal and pivot table for


27. Think SOQ’s, hardware schedules, door schedules, anything your designer tabulates on a

drawing can be tabulated into CSV format and databased for filtering;

28. Take time to check your formulas, discipline is essential with spreadsheets or your formula

will make a monkey of your data;

29. Slow down, take 2 minutes to learn something NEW today. The payback will

be quick and last you a lifetime. Get better, stronger, faster, now, to save time tomorrow, and

forever deliver more with the same resources;

30. Improved productivity is only one lesson away, treat yourself to some learning time, today.

By Matthew Ensoll


Editor New Zealand Building Economist.

Join the NZBE Blog

Explore NZBE Products