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Q: Microsoft Excel report formatting ideas ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Microsoft Excel report formatting ideas
Category: Computers > Software
Asked by: randheer-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 29 Oct 2002 13:09 PST
Expires: 28 Nov 2002 13:09 PST
Question ID: 92360
I need a really, really good resource--online or a book I can buy--
that will tell me everything I need to know about creating good
looking financial and tabular reports in Microsoft Excel. I don't need
a resource about Excel tools--e.g. how to adjust columns, or change
color of fonts, etc. I'm interested in cosmetics: how to make reports
interesting, sexy, alive, etc. Uses of banding. Backgrounds. Color.
Shading. Bracket conventions. Etc. Lots of examples.
Subject: Re: Microsoft Excel report formatting ideas
Answered By: ericynot-ga on 29 Oct 2002 20:30 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Randheer,

You're right. Spreadsheets that are going "public" need to have visual
interest. Happily, there are plenty of tools in Excel to accomplish
that goal.

In my search to find good educational materials to assist you, I
discovered more seminar/classroom resources than books or websites.
But I did come up with several resources that should help you get the
momentum necessary to become an Excel presentation expert.

Let's begin with some websites. This site by WinPlanet has some good
commonsense formatting ideas and some tips about the easiest ways to
implement them:

Here are some more tips that can help you create more interesting

As you probably know, for the right data a good-looking chart can make
a spreadsheet come alive. The book "Say It With Charts", available at, can help you become an expert in this area (the book is
not specific to Excel, but should help in understanding what kinds of
Excel charts are most effective in specific situations):
  This book can be picked up used for just ten bucks at Amazon.
Lastly, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Microsoft Excel 2000 has some
chapters specifically devoted to the knowledge you seek. Here is some
specific chapter information from the book's Table of Contents
(courtesy of

Part 3: Worksheet Grooming 161 

	Formatting for Fun or Profit
163 	Nothing adds polish to a worksheet faster than a coat of
high-gloss lacquer. But if you're looking for other ways to spruce
things up, tap into Excel's formatting commands. This chapter shows
you how change fonts, make your numbers more attractive, and realign
your data.

	Rearranging Your Worksheet Data
181 	Here's another chapter on the benefits of redecorating. This
time, the focus is on rearranging your worksheet data to make
everything look nice. Learn how to resize, add, and delete columns and
rows; move or copy data; and find a needle in a large Excel haystack.

	Getting Graphic
199 	They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if you're
working with numbers? The saying still applies. Learn how to add clip
art and graphics to add pizzazz to your workbook. You also learn how
to use Excel's drawing tools to create your own shapes and WordArt

	Adding Borders and Backgrounds
213 	Why not make your cells really stand out with borders and
backgrounds? Learn how in this chapter.

The chapter material above can be found here:
If you would like to buy the book, new or used, here's a source:
 My experience with the "Idiots" book series has been favorable.

I think these sources should get you well on your way to creating
zippy spreadsheets. If you have any questions about anything I've
written, please request clarification and I'll get right back to you.

Thanks for your question,


Request for Answer Clarification by randheer-ga on 30 Oct 2002 07:19 PST
Dear Ericynot,

The two online sites didn't have much to them. Did you run across any
other Excel basics books, in addition to the Idiot's guide, that
seemed to have some good chapters on the subject? Also, did you see
any online training seminars or CBT? That might work.

Thanks, Rand

Do you like this job?

Clarification of Answer by ericynot-ga on 30 Oct 2002 16:30 PST
Hi again randheer,

Taking your last question first, yes I like the job a lot. But anyone
who does it better have an alternate source of income because, done
right, it's more for the love than the money. It is nice, though, to
put skills to good use, and then there is the occasional "ah-ha"

Although I've got some more good stuff for you, I can't say this
question had an ah-ha moment. As a matter of fact, it illustrates some
limitations of this sort of work: (1) questions that don't seek a
specific factual answer like "who said such and such?" can be more
difficult because they're somewhat open-ended, (2) the Internet will
cough up an enormous amount of data about certain subjects (such as
Excel), even with skillful search parameters applied, and (3) it is
inherently tricky recommending something like a book that one has only
been able to examine on-line.

Lest you think I exaggerate the second point above, take a look at
this website - it lists 793 Excel books  linked with!
Even more amazing, entering "Excel" into Amazon's search box yields
1,942 results!

That said, I'm going to point you toward another book, which I've not
had an opportunity to evaluate personally, but which sounds perfect
for your needs and is inexpensive so you can afford to gamble. It's by
Sue Etherington and is called "Formatting and Printing Using Excel
2000".  It has chapters on "Formatting Data" and "Borders and Colors".
Here's an link:

Additionally, I turned up some more websites from which to borrow
Excel pizzazz ideas. The first has a nice shortcut for  doing
alternate row color formatting:

Here's a website with some great looking presentation ideas. It
doesn't explain how to do them, but that's what the books are for :-)

And here's a site with an on-line Excel SS that shows off some
formatting ideas that you may find useful. It has a number of
worksheets, so be sure to check out all of them:

Let's finish up with this one - I had hoped to avoid the cliche, but a
friend recommends it and it does have a 45 page chapter called "Making
It Look Pretty". That's right, "Excel 2000 for Dummies". Once again,
Amazon at

I looked at a number of on-line/CBT sites for you but decided against
recommending any of them because of the "wade-through" factor - you
would have to spend an awful lot of your time studying non-relevant
material in order to find what you're interested in. However, if you
want to pursue that option, just enter "excel online training" into
the Google search field and have a go. There are plenty of choices

There doesn't seem to be a single source, either on-line or in book
form, that offers exclusively what you're seeking. For good commercial
reasons, most training vehicles have a broader focus, but I think you
may have identified a viable marketing niche in the overcrowded Excel
training field. If only I had the time ...  But, if you utilize the
resources I've cited, I think you'll be turning out some pretty
impressive-looking spreadsheets.

Thanks again for your question,

randheer-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Thanks, EricYnot. Great job. Hang in there.


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