Organising Sheet Tabs in Your Excel Model

In theory, a model consisting of only a few sheets would be neat. In practice, 50 or more sheets are normal. In order to maintain usability, you should organise your sheet tabs:
  • Sort sheets by categories and sub-categories
  • Use sensible sheet names (a "nomenclature", if you will):
    • Use names that refer to the categories and sub-categories, most commonly as a pre-fix
    • Use additions like "monthly", "quarterly", "annual" for different time period lengths
  • Use colours that refer to the categories and sub-categories
  • Use index sheets for each category: In this article, the importance of a table of contents and a "cockpit" is explained. If your model exceeds 50 sheets, just one index sheet with hyperlinks is not enough. Additionally, you should add index sheets for each category/section, always to the left of the respective sheets. That will greatly increase usability.
Excel: Sheet Tabs
Excel: Sheet Tabs

Some practitioners tend to hide sheets - for example, if they feel they are too technical and do not want the users of the model to be confused or to mess with any settings. You should never do that! If someone else is trying to follow calculations - be it your user, or perhaps a colleague assisting you - hidden sheets will only lead to confusion. Or you may forget to remove sheets that were formerly important but were rendered useless by some model changes.

So, instead of hiding sheets that are still needed, just put them to the far right, clearly label them as auxiliary calculations or similar and, if needed, protect them:

  1. Right-click on a sheet tab and choose "Protect sheet..."
    Excel: Protect Sheet
  2. In the new dialogue, choose a password for protecting the sheet, and choose what users should and should not be able to do within the sheet.
    Excel: "Protect Sheet" Dialogue


Excel: Formula Name Translations, as many other websites about Excel, uses the English names of the Excel cell formulas. If you use Excel in another language, you will not be able to simply copy and paste the examples from the text; perhaps some of the examples are even much harder to understand if you are unfamiliar with the English function names. However, the University of Twente offers a useful overview over the international names: