Spreadsheets (such as Microsoft Excel) are very powerful tools and when used correctly, they can make your life a lot easier. Here are a few tips to help you utilize your spreadsheets more efficiently and effectively, as well as increase readablility;
- Use Boarders Around Cells – spreadsheets are generally created to organize numbers and large amounts of information, and while you can see the lines on the computer screen as you are creating the spreadsheet, these lines will not print unless you add them as boarders.
- Use Row and Column Titles – these are essential! Don’t assume that you don’t need to name your rows and columns, plus this can come in very useful when transferring information to charts or graphs and even in writing formulas later on.
- Use Formatting – Make your rows and columns bold, highlight important information with different colors, bold boarders, or larger font.
- Format Information Correctly – If you are working with money insert dollar symbols and put a double bottom boarder on total rows. If you are calculating percentages, be sure that the percent symbol is included and you have the correct number of decimal places needed.
- Create Multiple Sheets – Instead of making multiple workbooks or trying to cram everything on one spreadsheet, utilize multiple sheets (tabs at the bottom) within one workbook for related information. Make sure each of the sheets within a workbook are named appropriately.
- Insert an appropriate header/footer – Insert an appropriate header or footer on all of the pages of your workbook. This might include the company name or your name, the date, and/or the project name.
- Don’t make the same changes twice – If you need to make the same changes to multiple sheets, you can change all of your sheets at once by right clicking on any worksheet tab and selecting all before making your changes.
- Utilize Graphs and Charts – Many people respond better to information when presented visually. Charts and graphs are great ways to accomplish this. And when the charts or graphs are created within your workbook, they will update automatically as the information is changed.
- Use Formulas for calculations – Formulas are one of the best parts about utilizing spreadsheets! Making them work for you is critical; they can save you a lot of time, effort, and mistakes if you can utilize them correctly. Any time you are manipulating information that is in another cell, chances are there is a formula that will do it for you.
- Utilize the Help feature – Any time you do not know how to accomplish something (i.e. you are searching for a specific formula), try using the help feature. In most programs, this is accessed by clicking help or the F1 will usually enable a help feature.
Bonus: Save often – As with any document you are creating, make sure you save and save often. When creating spreadsheets, you can alter and input a lot of information in a short amount of time and losing it can be quite frustrating!
I hope this information was helpful,. Feel free to comment with thoughts or questions! I look forward to hearing from you!
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