Some Excel spreadsheets end up looking polished and professional, while others look sloppy and unfinished. If you’re having trouble making your spreadsheets look their best, read on for some easy tips that will provide finishing touches for your data.
Clean up the column names – Make sure your column names describe the data in the field and are capitalized appropriately. Columns names like “first_name” or “cogs” are not as easy to read as “First Name” and “Cost of Goods Sold”.
Bold the headers – Column headers will be easier to read if they’re bold. This helps them catch the user’s eye and stand out from the data below.
Freeze the top row – Have you ever noticed that when you scroll through a spreadsheet, sometimes the column names disappear and you have to guess what the columns are? “Freezing” the top row of the spreadsheet will stop this from happening. Go to View à Freeze Panes à Freeze Top Row on the menu bar to make the first row visible even when a user scrolls through the spreadsheet.
Arrange columns logically – Make sure that your columns are in a logical order. For example, if you have name and address fields, put them next to each other and in the standard order. Don’t separate columns that belong together, like “quantity”, “unit price”, and “total price”. Keeping these together make them easier to read and use.
Sort your data – Sorting your data by one or more columns will help your spreadsheet look more professional and make it easier for users to understand. Date columns, amounts, and names are all common candidates for sorting.
Format data – Use Excel’s cell formatting features to display your data in the correct formats. For example, fields with monetary data should have a currency format and date fields should be use a date format that is familiar to your users.
Use a table style – Depending on the data in your spreadsheet, using one of Excel’s predefined table styles may improve the readability and attractiveness of your information. Choose a style from the “Format as Table” dropdown on the Home tab to experiment with this formatting. You can undo the formatting if you find that it makes your spreadsheet harder to read.
Rename worksheets – Naming your worksheets will give your spreadsheet a more polished feel than keeping the default names that Excel assigns on creation:
To rename a worksheet, simply double click the name of it (“Sheet1” in the example above). The worksheet name will be highlighted black and you can replace it with a name related to your data.
Delete unused worksheets – After renaming the worksheets that you’re using, delete any unused worksheets to make your spreadsheet look a little neater. To delete worksheets, simply right click on the name of the worksheet you don’t need and choose “Delete”. Excel will ask you to confirm your choice before the worksheet is permanently deleted.
If you follow the steps above, you can turn a plain, amateurish spreadsheet into a polish finished product in just a few minutes.