Chapter 4. Formatting Worksheets

  • Formatting Cell Values

  • Formatting Cell Appearance

  • Smart Ways to Apply Formatting

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:

  • Cell appearance. Cell appearance includes cosmetic details like color, typeface, alignment, and borders. When most people think of formatting, they think of cell appearance first.

  • Cell values. Cell value formatting controls the way Excel displays numbers, dates, and times. For numbers, cell formatting includes details like whether to use scientific notation, the number of decimal places Excel displays, and the use of currency symbols, percent signs, and commas. With dates, cell value formatting determines what parts of the date are shown in the cell, and in what order.

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

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.

Excel for Starters. The Missing Manual
Excel 2007 for Starters: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596528329
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 85

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