Check Sheet

Check sheets allow teams to systematically record and compile data from historical sources (or observations as they happen), to more easily detect and display patterns and trends.

A check sheet:

  • Creates easy-to-understand data that come from a simple, efficient process that can be applied to any key performance areas
  • Builds, with each observation, a clearer picture of "the facts" as opposed to the opinions of each team member
  • Forces agreement on the definition of each condition or event (every person has to be looking for and recording the same thing)
  • Makes patterns in the data quickly become obvious

How to Create a Check Sheet

1. Define Occurrences and Conditions

Agree on the definition of the events or conditions being observed.

  • If you are building a list of events or conditions as the observations are made, agree on the overall definition of the project (e.g., if you are looking for reasons for late payments, agree on the definition of "late").
  • If you are working from a standard list of events or conditions, make sure that there is agreement on the meaning and application of each one (e.g., if you are tracking sales calls from various regions, make sure everyone knows which states are in each region).

2. Plan Data Collection

Decide who will collect the data, over what period, from what sources.

  • Who collects the data obviously depends on the project and resources. The data collection period can range from hours to months. The data can come from either a sample or an entire population.
  • Collect the data over sufficient period to be sure the data represents "typical" results during a "typical" cycle of your business.
  • Sometimes there may be important differences within a population that should be reflected by sampling each different subgroup individually. This is called stratification. (For example, collect complaint data from business travelers separately from other types of travelers. Collect scrap data from each machine separately.)

Tip: It must be safe to record and report "bad news," otherwise the data will be filtered.

3. Draft a Check Sheet

Design a check sheet form that is clear, complete, and easy to use.
A complete check sheet, illustrated below, includes the following:

Source Information

  1. Name of project
  2. Location of data collection
  3. Name of person recording data, if it applies
  4. Date(s)
  5. Other important identifiers

Content Information

  1. Column with defect/event name
  2. Columns with collection days/dates
  3. Totals for each column
  4. Totals for each row
  5. Grand total for both the columns and rows

Check Sheet Example

Defect Types /
Event Occurrences
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Defect 1       |       1
Defect 2     |||| | || Image   12
Defect 3 |||     |||       6
Defect 4   |     ||||   | 6
Defect 5               0
Defect 6   Image           5
Defect 7     ||     Image   7
Defect 8             || 2
TOTAL 3 6 6 5 6 10 3 78

4. Collect Data

Collect the data consistently and accurately. Make sure all entries are written clearly.

Tip: Managers and/or team members can do their part to help the data collector(s) do their job well by simply showing an interest in the project. Ask the collector(s) how the project is working out. Show your support—tell the data collector(s) you think it is important to collect the information. Above all—act on the data as quickly as possible!

Further Reading

More Information

Icon American Society for Quality: Check Sheet
Icon Oregon State Extension Service: Pareto Analysis and Check Sheets


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