Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Keeping Up Appearances— Formatting the Worksheet
C H A P T E R 4
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Keeping Up Appearances—
Formatting the Worksheet
You’ve Got Designs on Your Worksheet
Ok—your data are in place, your scintillating, envy-stoking formulas are doing what you want them to
do, an d i t’ s al l ov e r but the for matti n g . What do y ou do n e xt? An d how?
Obviously, that depends. After all, at the end of the day workbooks aren’t meant to be things of
beauty, at least not for their own sake. They’re instruments of analysis and presentation, and the data
you compile need to be as lucid and intelligible as possible—and indeed, should ideally make sense to
someone who doesn’ t know ter ribly much about Excel.
Just the same, you want your workbook to look good—and to enhance your audience’s
comprehension of the data, even if that audience consists exclusively of the person who’s designed the
workbook. And in this connection Excel showcases a slew of ways in which you can engineer that
enhancement. And we’re going to explore quite a few of them. Not all, mind you, but a lot.
Of course, formatting a worksheet calls for a dollop of perspective, too. One mustn’t give in to the
it’s-there-so-let’s-use-it mindset that can entice the user into designing the worksheet equivalent of a
pol ka dot bl ouse atop a pl ai d ski r t. Afte r al l , doe s y our boss really want to see her sales data in the
Chiller font? You know the answer—and you’d probably better know it .
But aesthetic judgments aside, the first—and really integral—thing you need to know about
formatting is this: apart from one obscure exception, formatting data on the worksheet changes the
appearance , and not the value , of those data; and while you may hold that truth to be self-evident, it
needs to be kept in mind, because the mind and the eye play tricks (as we’ll see).
Thus if I enter the number 17 in a cell and tint it green, underline it, cast it into a boldface,
enlarge it, center it in its cell, and angle it to a pitch of 48 degrees (and that’s doable), that number
remains exactly 17—and it remains a number , and so if I multiply it by 3 it’ll still yields 51—no matter
what it looks like. Formatting won’t “ do” anything to a number, other than change the way it looks.
Coloring a negative number red or coupling it with a currency symbol may tweak the data
informatively, but neither tweak will change the value that number represents. Coif your hair in
dreadlocks or a Mohawk; either way, it’s still you.
In the pre-2007 releases of Excel formatting options were assigned to their own, separate heading
on the Menu bar, and as luck would have it, that command was called…Format. It’s noteworthy,
however, that that term has been banished from the Tab and Group names in 2010, although you will
find a Format button in the Cells Group on the Home tab; instead, most of the standard formatting
arsenal is now stockpiled in the Home tab groups, however its buttons are named. Indeed, the great
majority of buttons in that tab can properly be called formatting in operation.