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## How To Create A Brilliant Excel Spreadsheet – Focus On Formatting Article – 2

It’s really important to consider the format of your spreadsheet. Spending time thinking about your layout may seem trivial, but if you follow a few simple rules, your spreadsheet will not only look great but do your calculations quickly and efficiently.

Let’s keep it simple and go over the simple rules of patterning with some great tips to give the pattern an edge.

1. Keep it simple. Spreadsheet. Many people spend a lot of time formatting their spreadsheets that are all singing and dancing, with all the bells and whistles you can think of. Most of the time it looks good for the author of the spreadsheet, but very confusing or a mess for the users.

2. Don’t over format. Yes make it easy to read and follow, but go away, it will add bulk and clog Excel’s performance. Conditional formatting in particular can slow down Excel, as it constantly recalculates.

3. Stick to universal colors if you can, I find black, white and gray colors work best, they look clean and professional but give the spreadsheet more value.

4. Follow the default format of cells, that is, text is aligned to the left and numbers to the right—this is what Excel expects. This can greatly speed up troubleshooting if you have released formulas or reference cells, as you can tell at a glance whether cells should be formatted and text or numeric.

5. Format the cells as text if you **really** All data you enter into a text-formatted cell becomes text, even if you meant it to be numeric, which is one thing you don’t want—any formula cells to be formatted as text.

6. Try not to use Merge cells Keep the use of merging cells to an absolute minimum. I can’t express enough that this can create many problems such as losing the ability to sort data correctly, use copy and paste correctly and run VBA code because it doesn’t handle merged cells properly. A great way around this is to use an alternate center in the selection. This can be easily achieved by the format | Cell Alignment | horizontal | Center across the selection. Give this option a try.

7. Always try to leave at least three or more blank rows above your data table. It can be easily used to benchmark database functions and features such as advanced filtering.

Spreadsheet formatting can be a personal choice on specific color schemes, or how busy the spreadsheet is, but always keep the user in mind, and how easy it is for a new user to follow your spreadsheet. In summary keep it clean, simple and follow default formats to eliminate any delays or errors in formulas due to incorrect cell formatting.

This was the first in a series of four articles on how to create a brilliant spreadsheet—the 80/20 split of planning vs. executing.

Next in this series will be How to Create a Great Spreadsheet – Solid Structure – Article 3.

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