Quick and Spiffy Tables in MS Excel

Do you usually use MS Excel for table work? Looking for something to help give you a quick and easy visual “edge” when it comes to the presentation of your tables?

If any of that sounds like a good idea, you might be happy to know that Excel has an AutoFormat function just for such a purpose.

In other words, you can quickly and easily turn this:

Into this:

(Or any of several other choices).

Ready to take a look at Excel AutoFormats?


Good! Then let’s get the show on the road.

I think the most obvious place to start is to realize that you need to have a table to format. So, go ahead and set up your table. The data, the labels, everything.

Now, highlight the table and data.

Next, go to the Format menu, AutoFormat choice.

The AutoFormat window will look like this if you’re running Excel 97:

Simply scroll through the choices on the left and see each preview on the right.

If you’re running a newer version of Excel, your AutoFormat window will look like this:

In this window, you can use the scroll bar to look through your choices and click on the preview you want to use.

In either version of Excel, at this point, if you click OK with your formatting choice selected, your highlighted table will be converted to the new look.

Pretty simple, huh? It probably takes longer to decide which look to choose than it does to actually make the changes.

But, what if you only want most or some of the format elements?

Is there a way to get just the changes you want and leave behind the rest?

You might be surprised by the choices you have!

Let’s take a look.

If you click the Options button, the bottom of the window will expand to give you a section entitled “Formats to apply.

In this new section, you’ll find six different choices: Number, Border, Font, Patterns, Alignment and Width/Height.

Any checked option (at this point, probably all of them) will result in a change of that type to your table.

Uncheck any box that contains a change you don’t want to make. For example, if you don’t want font changes to be made, such as bolding, font type, etc., then uncheck the “font” box.

When you choose a box to uncheck, you should notice the preview(s) change too, giving you a good idea as to what the finished product will look like.

When you finish with these decisions and you still agree with the table format you chose, click OK.

And, with a couple of clicks, you changed the ordinary into extraordinary.

~ April

P.S. – To remove the AutoFormat, go back to the AutoFormat window and select None. This choice will remove all formatting and restore the table to default fonts, colors, etc. (That means if you made some formatting changes prior to the AutoFormat, you will lose those too. You are then returned to worksheet defaults).