Tag Archives: Microsoft Excel

7 Excel Tips For Making Spreadsheets Beautiful

excel_imageEveryone looks to spreadsheets to provide easy to read data, but can they also be beautiful? With a few tips and tricks they can be! Try a few of these tips in your next sheet to make it stand out from the crowd.


1. Use Color… But Not Too Much

Excel gives you access to thousands of colors you can use to jazz up your cells. Take advantage of the colors available, but be sure to exercise some restraint. You do not want to overwhelm your reader with bright, contrasting colors. Instead, use a background color on title cells and switch the font to a contrasting, easily readable shade. This will make your title cells pop without unintentionally blinding your reader.

2. Add a Background

Adding a background image will give your spreadsheet depth and interest. Just like with coloring, though, it’s easy to go too far. Use a simple background behind your data. A slight tint or a gradation is sufficient. Make sure it complements the colors used in your title cells and charts. Always check for readability when using a background image – avoid using anything that will make it difficult for your readers to see the data.

3. Align Your Data on the Left

Many spreadsheets use a center alignment for data. Avoid doing this. Despite popular opinion, center aligned data is not easier to read. The eye has to work harder to follow the line of text, slowing down comprehension. It also gives the data an unsightly, ragged silhouette. Align your data with the left side of the cell to create a smooth edge. This makes the spreadsheet look better and makes it easier to take the data in.

4. Use a Graph

Graphs add interest to your sheet and give your reader a different way to think about the data you are providing. You can use the graph making tool integrated into Excel to quickly and easy turn your data into a graph. When creating this visual representation of data, keep in mind the color scheme you are using in the rest of the spreadsheet. Choose colors that allow your graph to pop without clashing with the rest of the design scheme.

5. Zebra Striping

Line after line of data can make your readers go cross-eyed. Make it easy to read each line of text by adding zebra striping. Zebra striping refers to adding a background color to every other row. As with most other aspects of designing spreadsheets, it is easy to go overboard with this tool. Use a very slightly tinted shade to add contrast without overwhelming the eye.

6. Using Headers

Headers can help break up your data, making it easier for your readers to find the information they need. They can also add visual appeal. Do something different with your headers that you use nowhere else in the spreadsheet. This could mean making them bold, in all caps, italicized, or anything else that you prefer. They will be effective as long as they look different from the rest of the sheet.

7. Embrace the White Space

While you’re demonstrating your Excel skills, make sure you don’t go a little too far the eye candy. You may have formatted your cells so they are just big enough to fit the information that is in them. This helps include more information into one space, but it also makes the spreadsheet look cramped. Unless you are trying to save on printing costs, there is no reason not to give your sheet a little room to breathe. Add just enough height and width to the cells so the data stands out clearly.

There is no reason that spreadsheets can’t be functional and attractive. Even a little bit of time spent beautifying your next sheet will create a great impression on whoever looks at it.

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Sarah Jackson is a business writer and Associate Editor at Proformative.



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Why You Should Consider MS Office 2010 Online Tutorials

When it comes to computer programs like Microsoft Office 2010, most people limit their use to MS Word to help them write down important data, and perhaps MS Excel to fill in some columns and cells. However, they most commonly stop at beginner levels and open documents only to do the task they can actually accomplish and, more importantly, in the manner that is known to them. Now, there is nothing wrong with writing anything in MS Word and saving the document, there are so many features that wait to be uncovered, and that can make your usage of this handy and popular program a whole lot easier.

Let’s say you need a 500 word article – without the feature called word count, what would you do? Count the words one by one? You can adjust Microsoft Word so that it can tell you how many words, characters or words with and without spaces your document has. It is much easier this way, right? Now, MS Office 2010 is an improved version when compared to the previous one, and you are able to see how many words you write without turning on the word count feature, but only by looking at the bottom left corner. Naturally, even this has to be turned on by clicking on the Status bar with your right mouse button.

Why Should You Consider MS Office 2010 Online Tutorials?

One of the things that should urge you to consider online tutorials is the fact that you will use all the programs with MS Office much more easily. You will have better performance, and avoid those awkward ‘shortcuts’ in order to perform a fairly simple task. At the same time you will be able to manage your time much better, and have more time for other task in your daily schedule.

Reason Number Two – Professionals Know What They Are Doing

Although the joy that comes from discovering what a particular feature is used for on your own is immeasurable, getting an online tutorial to help you get a hold of MS Office 2010 is a much easier task. It is less time-consuming, as we have already mentioned, while the actual best thing about this tutorial is that training providers in this department have the knowledge to teach you in the way that will suit you. They are trained to help you learn everything there is to know about this program in a way that you can appreciate. As you make progress, the training will become more difficult, but only to the extent that you are able to follow it, and understand what a certain level of knowledge requires of you to know.

The Online Training Provider

Finally, there is the biggest advantage you should not take out of consideration, and this is the fact you are participating in an online course. This means that you don’t have to leave your home, and you will still get the knowledge you require. This will bring you another benefit, and you will have more time to practice, explore, and expand your gained knowledge.

MS Office is used by millions across the world. Having advanced knowledge of MS Office can be considered an asset. This article has been wrriten by Richa for a company engaged in offering online Microsoft Office 2010 training



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Ways to Save Money When Starting a Small Business

When you’re starting a business, you try your best to keep costs down, including and especially your start-up expenses. If you can, you use space, supplies and assets you already own, and when looking for software, you look for the lowest-priced items that you need. For some of those items, you can find many basic tools for free if you know where to look, and free always fits the budget!

Office Documents

If you can’t afford the exorbitant price of Microsoft’s popular Office 2010 or any other yearly version, but you really need a word processor, a spreadsheet and other common document tools, fear not: You can download a free, open-source program called Open Office.

Open Office provides all the tools the Microsoft product does. Your default file extension is .odt, but you can save in Microsoft-compatible formats and a rich text format as well. Open Office even lets you export your document into .pdf format that allows you to secure the information, allow or prevent others to change the document, allow or prevent printing or copying. You can even require a separate password to open the .pdf.

Invoices, Quotes, Receipts

One of the easiest programs you can find is free for a business of less than five employees. You work within various templates to customize your invoices, quotes and receipts. Your invoices can even include a remittance slip if you’d like.

You can email or fax the invoice directly from the program, save drafts until itemization is complete, sort clients and maintain separation, apply payments and even export into .pdf format for your files or to send as email attachments.

The program is Express Invoice Invoicing Software by NCH Software. The Express version includes almost all the features the paid-version possesses, and again, it’s free. As you expand, you can purchase the full version for extra bells and whistles, but for a small business with one person, you get the records, invoicing and a good selection of additional tracking tools in Express Invoice.

Why the employee limit? Express Invoice can also act as a check-in/check-out clock for up to five people, allowing for hours and wage tracking and payment.

Maintain your invoice and payment records online or locally in the downloaded program files. Full adaptability allows multiple choices all down the line.

File Storage

Keep electronic files not only locally but secured online in free online storage sites. In case of catastrophic failure, don’t rely on just your back-up procedures to recover most of the data: Your computer could be hacked or a trojan infest the back-up. And those possibilities don’t approach physical theft or damage of the actual equipment.

There are several excellent, highly secure free storage sites on the Internet from which to choose. Look carefully at the Terms of Service and the security guarantees. Play it doubly safe and store your files on different sites—just in case.


Know what you can and cannot note as a business expense. You may not get 100 percent of the cost allowed, but even 50 percent that qualifies as a tax deduction will certainly help: Consult a tax advisor or the IRS to make sure you’re not expecting a tax credit for non-deductible expenses or percentages.

Make sure you check back each January, for tax laws change, and don’t forget state tax exemptions and deductions. Often states have different standards and restrictions than the federal tax code allows.

Keep all your receipts! Scan all of them to duplicate your records between hard copies and electronic copies. Scanning them into electronic format is especially important with many register receipts: The ink fades after a short time, and if you can’t read it, you can’t claim it.


Save as much as you can as often as you can and in as many ways as you can. Save money, save data and save energy and worry. Good luck!

This post was contributed by John Walker (visit his site here).  John lives in London, UK where he works as a financial analyst.


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