Spreadsheets are My Friends: Excel as a Supplement to PastPerfect in Reconciling Old Paperwork

I’ve been a fan of Excel spreadsheets for a while. They were useful in planning college class schedules and budgets. I even used them in museum internships, once for listing education collection items that we couldn’t find paperwork for but the curator remembered so that if she ever left, someone else would know about them.

Now, I’m using spreadsheets as a quick upload spot for old accession, education collection and loan paperwork before I’m ready to put them in our PastPerfect datsbase. I just want them digitized so they’re easily searchable when I have an object to find and catalog. Excel lets me quickly put information in so it is accessible without the need to be as detailed as I would in PastPerfect to completely catalog the objects. It is also an easy place to document what’s been done and what needs to be done, using different shades of highlighting to help differentiate records that are going to easier or more difficult.

I know Word has a table function, but I find Excel easier to work with, especially for larger lists. It’s easy to add columns in Excel but too many columns in Word tables doesn’t work. And I don’t have to have multiple documents; I can just add a new worksheet in a workbook. I do have a separate workbook for accessions and another for loans and education so I don’t get too many worksheets in a single workbooks though. I’ve also recently created a new workbook for donors who have donated and loaned a lot over the years so if (when) I need to verify things with them, it’s all easily accessible in one document.

Once I have located the object and straightened out the paperwork, I still have to add it to PastPerfect with more details and photos, but Excel definitely helps as an easy, searchable starting point.

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