Consistently display negative numbers clearly

If you are working with spreadsheets you will inevitably be adding and subtracting numbers. For display purposes some spreadsheet users like to show everything as a positive numbers and then do the subtraction in the formula.

However, best practice would be to always display negative numbers clearly i.e. with a negative sign/ brackets/ in red so that is it clear. We believe that in the picture below, it is easier to understand (and therefore less error prone) the bottom example.

Display negative numbers

Display negative numbers as negatives

Carefully consider the use of negative numbers. Our preference is to clearly show when a number is being subtracted by making it a negative number (red and in brackets).

As a result most of my subtotals are additions. We feel this makes it easier for the end user (who may be looking at it on a piece of paper) to understand what is happening.

Watch the video clip below to understand it better.

To follow along go to 1.11

Back to: Online Financial Modelling, Budgeting and Forecasting Course > Spreadsheet Best Practice