Adding formatting to your spreadsheet not only makes it more attractive, it can also make it easier to read and use. The right font, the right font size, the right color, and the right background can combine to make the most important information pop right off the sheet.
Handling the blank areas is also important. Without enough "white space" (blank areas), your data can be hard to read. Columns and rows need to have some breathing space so your eye will see a break between them.
Excel's sheets behave in many ways like Word's tables. There are some important differences, as you will see in this project.
In this project you will apply formatting in several different ways. You will probably find that you prefer one approach, but you can not choose your favorite until you have seen them all! Below is a brief introduction to the formatting methods you will use in the Step-by-Step pages.
The Format Cells dialog has six tabs, each with several characteristics that you can set.
Number tab: Pick a number format and set its options, or create a custom format.
Alignment tab: Horizontal and vertical alignment. Text control choices: Wrap text, Shrink to fit (the cell), Merge cells, plus Orientation, which rotates text.
Font tab: Pick a font, font style, font size, font color, underline style, a few effects.
Border tab: Set a border for any combination of edges of your selected cells plus diagonals.
Fill tab: Background colors and patterns and special effects with gradients.
Protection tab: Keep certain cells from being changed by someone using your sheet or even hide parts of the sheet.
in this dialog apply to the whole cell unless you have selected only part of
the contents of that cell. Some formats, like font and font size, can be
applied to just some of the characters. Other formats, like Borders and Alignment, apply only to
the whole cell.
To copy formatting you can use one of the Paste Options, the Format Painter, AutoFill, or the Paste Special dialog.
When you click the Paste button's arrow, a list of options appears.
In Excel 2010 the choices are icons. Hover over an icon and a screen tip will tell you what it will do.
If you just click the Paste button itself or use the key combo CTRL + V to paste, the Paste Options button appears near what you pasted. So you can choose before you paste or afterwards. Hurrah for flexibility!
In Excel 2010, again there are icons to show you what choices you have about what you want pasted.
The Format Painter button works much as it does in Word. The biggest difference is that Excel's Format Painter works only on the cell as a whole. You cannot use it on just part of the text in a cell. In fact, it is grayed out when you are in Edit mode.
When you click the button, the pointer changes to its Format Painter shape. Click on a cell or drag across several cells to apply the copied formatting. The pointer then returns to its Select shape.
To use Format Painter to format several cells that are not next to each other, double-click the Format Painter button. The pointer will remain in its Format Painter shape until you click the button again or press the ESC key.
If a cell contains more than one format for text, such as different font sizes, Format Painter will copy only the first formatting that it finds.
You can use Excel's AutoFill feature to copy formatting into multiple cells, while leaving the data in the cells alone.
AutoFill Options: After you drag the Fill handle to copy cells, the AutoFill Options button appears near the bottom right of the cells. Click its arrow to open the list of choices. You will see various choices depending on what you were copying, but you should always see Fill Formatting Only and Fill Without Formatting.
Right Drag Menu: If you drag the AutoFill handle with the right mouse button, a menu automatically appears with the same choices, including Fill Formats.
The Paste Special dialog ( Home tab > Paste >Paste Special… ) allows you to choose how much about a copied cell you wish to paste. You can choose All and paste the entire cell with all of its formatting.
Or choose one of the Paste options and paste just that characteristic.
Of special interest for this project is the choice to paste just the Formats. You can even paste everything except the borders. This is very useful when some rows have borders and some don't.
If you choose one of the Operations, the operation is performed on the pasted contents when you paste.
Pasting multiple cells with Skip blanks checked leaves the data you are pasting over in place if the new data has a blank cell in that position.
Transpose will paste columns as rows and rows as
columns, which can be quite useful and certainly saves a lot of time.
After all this formatting, what do you do if you want to just start over? How can you get rid of all these formats, called clearing formats?
Ribbon: On the Home tab, the Clear button opens a list of choices, including Clear Formats,
which returns all the fonts to the default Normal font, removes fills and
borders, and splits merged cells. It does not change row and column sizes.
Data that was lost in a merge is not restored.