Spreadsheets are rarely one-of-a-kind creations. After you've built the perfect sales forecast, expense report, or personal budget, you probably want to reuse your hard work instead of starting from scratch. One approach is to save an extra copy of your workbook and just change the data for each new spreadsheet you want to create. That works fine, but it's not terribly convenient.
Excel provides a more streamlined option with templates, which are spreadsheet blueprints that you can use to create new files. Templates don't necessarily hold any data (although they can if you want them to). Instead, their main role in life is letting you format them to your heart's contentadding things like column titles, fancy shading, and complex formulasso that every time you want a worksheet that looks like the template, all you have to do is select the template, and voilà! A new file appears, containing all the design elements you created in the original template.
For example, you could create a monthly expense-report template containing all the appropriate formulas and formatting you need and use it to create a fresh report each month. If you ever need to change your report's formatting or calculations, you simply modify the template, and all future expense reports will use the new version.
In this chapter, you'll learn about Excel templates and how to get the most out of them. You'll begin by exploring how you can use Excel's existing set of templates, which provide a helpful starting point for all kinds of common spreadsheets. Then you'll learn how to create your own equally professional (and time-saving) templates.