Free Excel Training Online Lesson Six: Making Spreadsheet Presentable

2KO Africa welcomes you back to our free Excel training online. Now that we have had a look at using the Autosum function in Excel, we will look at making everything presentable. The focus of this lesson will be on borders, shading, fonts and cell alignment.

Lesson 6

Making a Spreadsheet Presentable

Once we have added some numbers and labels, and done some totalling up, we should think about presenting our work in a professional way. This requires, getting alignment right, along with basic formatting like bold and underline, and finally shading and lines.


Aligning Data in Cells

Look at Table 14, below.


Table 14


The months are text entries because the consist of alpha characters. By default Excel aligns text entries on the left edge of the cell. On the other hand, the numbers of animals per month have been entered as values, and as such these numbers automatically align to the right. Numbers must be aligned to the right, because if they are not aligned right, then often the units or hundreds may be difficult to read.


Look at the following entries:








If you had to add up these numbers, it wopuld be disconcerting. I am sure you would agree that the following layout makes much more sense:








This way (right aligned) numbers will have units above units, tens above tens and hundreds above hundreds etc. this is how we are taught to approach adding numbers.

Look at January.



The label is aligned left, and the number right. To make everything look better, we would align the label to the numbers, for the reasons explained above.



So, let's go ahead an align the months from Table 14 and we will get this:



In the Home Menu Tab, one would align items as follows:


1.     Select the cell(s) that need to be aligned

2.     Click the alignment button (left, centre or right)



When you point the mouse at one of the alignment buttons (such as the example below) Excel will pop out a message to let you know what that icon means.



Making Headings Bold

In order to make headings stand out, and to create some contrast, it is often a good idea to bold your headings. In the Home Menu Tab, the following icons appear in the Font group.



One would bold cells as follows:


1.     Select the cell(s) that need to be bolded

2.     Click the BOLD button

3.     All cells that were highlighted would be bold

4.     Clicking the bold button whilst on a cell that is already bold, removes the bold


The same goes for underline and italics.


Here is an example of Bold Headings



If we underline the same headings, they would like this:



You will see that just the letters of the words are underlined. The more letters in the cell, the longer the underline will be.


Underlining only draws a line underneath the actual characters of the word or number, and it draws the line inside the cell.


Borders, on the other hand, are lines drawn by Excel, along the border of the cell, from one edge to the other.


Here is an example of Jan underlined and then with a bottom border.




bottom border


The Borders button is the last button on the Paragraph Group (bottom right)



How about a practise exercise. Let's transform our table with some borders. We will use ALL BORDERS for the months and OUTSIDE BORDER. We also used Italics for the labels in column A.


The result is as follows:



Finally, we will add some shading, which always elevates the look of a table. We will add shading using the following steps:


1.     Select the cells to be shaded

2.     Click the arrow on the shading box (the yellow paint pot icon in the Font Group)

3.     Select a colour


The result is that the selected cells will be shaded according to the colour chosen.



The lighter the colour, the better for shading that is to be printed on a non-colour printer.


See Table 15 Below


Practice on your own.


Create the following Table


1.     Place light grey shading / fill in A1:C1, as well as in A8:C8

2.     Make the heading in row 1 bold

3.     Center the entries in column A and B, as well as headings

4.     Right align the heading above the numbers


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