How to Test an Excel Spreadsheet

by Bonnie Conrad

You can use Microsoft Excel to create anything from a simple household inventory to a complicated company budget. But no matter what the purpose of the spreadsheet, it is only as accurate as you make it. If your spreadsheet contains erroneous formulas or other flaws, they will affect your finished document. Taking the time to test each part of your spreadsheet now is one of the best ways to avoid those problems later on.


Log on to your computer and open your Excel spreadsheet program. Open a new spreadsheet.


Enter your formulas in the appropriate cells. For instance, if you want to multiply columns A and B and show the results in column C, you would create the formula "=A1*B1" then copy it down to the remaining cells in the C column.


Type a few small numbers into the data portion of your Excel spreadsheet. Check the results of your formula to ensure they are accurate. If the result of a simple multiplication like 2 x 4 is not correct, you know there is a problem with your spreadsheet formula.


Scroll through each cell on the spreadsheet looking for formulas. As you scroll through the spreadsheet, you may see formulas like "=SUM(F1:F8)," "=B5*B6" or "=C7/C10." Note the locations of these formulas and the cells they reference.


Enter simple numbers into the referenced cells to test the integrity of the formulas and view the results. For instance, if a formula in your spreadsheet divides the number in cell C7 by the number in cell C10, you could enter 14 in cell C7 and 2 in cell C10. If you see a 7 in the formula cell you know things are working properly. Otherwise you know you need to revise the formula.


Check the spreadsheet for any cells that display "#########." This means that the contents of the cell are too wide to display in the space allotted. You can widen the column by placing your cursor in the corner of the column label and pulling it out.

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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Bonnie Conrad has been working as a professional freelance writer since 2003. Her work can be seen on Credit Factor, Constant Content and a number of other websites. Conrad also works full-time as a computer technician and loves to write about a number of technician topics. She studied computer technology and business administration at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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