A document distribution matrix gives you a visual reference to determine how to communicate with a wide range of people. These matrices are useful in business, school and any other organization that communicates through printed or computerized documents. Computerized spreadsheet tools, such as Excel, Numbers, 1-2-3 or Calc, are the best tools for creating a document distribution matrix template, but you can use any software that lets you create tables. If your organization is small, you may be able to draw your matrix out by hand.

1. Create a New Workbook in Your Spreadsheet

Launch a new workbook in your spreadsheet program or set up a new table in a word processing program. Spreadsheet programs can handle more data than tables, so choose that format if you have the option.

2. List Every Document Type Used in Your Organization

List every document type you use for your organization across the top row of your spreadsheet, starting in the second column. Document types for a general matrix might include calendars, meeting minutes, earnings reports and special bulletins. If your matrix is for a specific project, list the individual documents related to the project rather than document categories. For example, a construction project document matrix might list items such as electrical drawings, architectural drawings, elevations and copies of specific permits.

3. List the Members of Your Organization

List all members of your business or organization down the first column on the left side of your spreadsheet, starting in the second row. Break the people into categories, if applicable. For example, in a small business matrix, categories might be "Management," with all management personnel listed alphabetically below the category heading, "Employees" with those listed alphabetically below, "Clients" with those listed alphabetically and "Marketing" with all of your external marketing contacts listed.

4. Ensure Your Lists are Complete

Check your header row and column to ensure both lists are complete. If it makes viewing the matrix easier, add shading to the member category rows so you have a break between the types of people who receive your documentation.

5. Note Method of Receipt for Each Person

Work down your first document column, which will be Column B in most spreadsheet programs, and place an "e" in the cell next to the name of any person who should receive that document electronically. Place a "p" in the cell next to any person who should receive a paper copy of that document. If a person should not receive that document, leave the cell next to his name blank.

If your needs are more complex, modify the notation to suit your organization. For example, you can type "2 paper copies" or "p-2" to indicate multiple copies. As long as everyone in your organization understands the notation, use any method that works for you.

Repeat the process for each column, working down the list to mark paper and electronic copies. This completes your document distribution matrix.

Create hyperlinks from your document distribution matrix worksheet into your contact information database if possible. This will let you click on a name in your matrix to open that person's contact information so you can easily send electronic or paper copies. Check your spreadsheet program's "Help" file to learn how to do this.


You can also use document distribution matrices to record where your documents are stored. In this case, list your documents in the first column and your storage locations across the top, such as "Web server," "Main office filing cabinet 1," "Reception Computer" and so forth. Place an "X" in the cell where the document title row and storage location column meet.