If you’re working on an Excel sheet, chances are you’re going to be inputting lots of information. Excel is a fantastic tool for tracking information, but sometimes there’s so much information in the sheet, it can make the sheet very difficult to read. This is especially true if you’ll be sharing the workbook with other people. You’ll want to make sure the information is straightforward and communicated as quickly as possible.
That’s where formatting your worksheets comes in. Knowledge of Excel formatting basics can help with the look and feel of your document, allowing you to draw importance to information in certain places and making the information easier to view and understand. Knowing some Excel formatting basics will help your worksheet go from being just a sheet with many names and numbers and formulas with no rhyme or reason to being a visually pleasing worksheet that’s easy to understand.
If that sounds useful, we’ve gathered some Excel formatting basics to walk you through the process!
Changing the font (size, color, bold, italic, and underline)
The default in Excel is set to Calibri, however, Excel offers many other fonts for customization. To change the font, you’ll want to first select the cell you wish to edit. On the Home tab, select the arrow in the same box by Calibri (this is your font command), and a drop-down menu will appear. From here, you can choose whatever font style you like, and live previews of fonts will appear as you choose. Select a font, and your selected cell text will change to that font you just selected.
To change the font, select the font size command beside the font command on the Home tab. A drop-down menu will reveal several font sizes. Choose one, and again your selected cell text will change to your selection. If you look to the right of the font size command, you’ll see two A’s, one larger and one smaller, and they will increase or decrease the size of your font with a single click of your mouse.
To change the color of the text in a selected cell, on the Home tab, select the font color command, which appears as an A with a colored strip below it. Click this, and a live preview of colors will be shown. Select it to change the selected cell text to that color. There are more color options under ‘more color.’
To use bold, italic, and underline commands, select the cells you wish to modify, and click Bold (B), Italic (I), or Underline (U) button below the font command. This change will reflect in your selected cell. You can also use some keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+B (bold), Ctrl+I (italics), and Ctrl+U (underline) to streamline your formatting.
By default, all text will be entered into the bottom-left of a cell, and numbers will be entered into the bottom-right. On the Home tab, if you look beside the Font group, you will see a group named Alignment. Here you’ll see buttons with lines detailing different text alignments. Select the cell you wish to align and choose an alignment. Alignment options are top, middle, bottom, and left, center and right. Your selected cell will align as the alignment style you’ve chosen.
Cell borders and fill colors
To add a border to your worksheet, select a cell to get started. On the Home tab, the borders command is right next to the underline command. Click it to see the drop-down menu. Here you can select from different border styles, which will then apply to your cell once selected. If you do not wish to choose a specific side for a border, you could choose ‘All borders’, which will place a border around the entire cell selected. You can change the border line style and color of the borders with the Draw Borders tool at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
To add a fill color to your cell, start by selecting the cell you’d like to fill. Select the arrow in the Fill Color command (which looks like a paint can), and the fill color menu will appear. A live preview of colors will appear, and from this, you can choose which color you’d like.
When filling in color, your cells should use lighter colors, and avoid bold ones, especially if you are sharing the workbook in a workplace. Bold colors make text harder to read.
To copy formatting from one cell or another, you can use Format Painter. You can find Format Painter on the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, next to the paste button, and under copy. It will copy all formatting from one cell to another. You can click and drag over any cells you want to paste the formatting to.
Select the cells you wish to modify, select the cell styles command on the Home tab in the ‘Styles’ group, and a live preview will appear as you hover over the options. Choose one, and that style will appear in your selected cell.
Note that using a cell style will replace any formatting currently in place, aside from text formatting. It’s not recommended to use cell styles if you have plenty of formatting in your workbook.
Formatting text and numbers
First, select the cells you wish to modify. Under the Number group on the Home tab, you’ll find the Number Format command drop-down menu. Click the drop-down menu and select the formatting option you want. Additionally, you can use the increase decimal and decrease decimal commands (found under the drop-down menu) to adjust the decimal places displayed if you’ve chosen the number format option from the drop-down menu.
You can select ‘More Number Formats’ for more options for formatting.
Bringing these Excel formatting basics together in a single worksheet will help your information stand out and provide more clarity and understanding for you and any recipients of the file. Formatting makes all the difference between an unreadable catastrophe and a crisp, clean file. The visual aspect will make your content shine and boost your productivity and ease of access when you next need the information contained in the file.
If you’re looking for some more tips for Excel, you can check out this master list of keyboard shortcuts ready to help you be more efficient with Excel.