Creating a basic worksheet is only the first step toward mastering Excel. If you plan to print your worksheet, email it to colleagues, or show it off to friends, you need to think about whether you've formatted your worksheet in a viewer-friendly way. A careful use of color, shading, borders, and fonts can make the difference between a messy glob of data and a worksheet that's easy to work with and understand.
But formatting isn't just about deciding, say, where and how to make your text bold. Excel also lets you control the way numerical values are formatted. In fact, there are really two fundamental aspects of formatting in any worksheet:
In many ways, cell value formatting is more significant than cell appearance, because cell value formatting can change the meaning of your data. For example, even though 45%, $0.45, and 0.450 are all the same number, your spreadsheet readers will see a failing test score, a cheap price for chewing gum, and a world-class batting average, respectively. Color and alignment can't hope to compete.
Tip: Keep in mind that regardless of how you format your cell values, Excel maintains an unalterable value for every number you type in. For more on how Excel internally stores numbers, see the box on Section 188.8.131.52.
In this chapter, you'll learn about cell value formatting, and then unleash your inner artist with cell appearance formatting. Finally, you'll learn the most helpful ways to use formatting to improve a worksheet's readability and how to save time with nifty features like AutoFormat, styles, and conditional formatting.