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Excel 2013: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Chapter 6. Smart Formatting Tricks

In the previous chapter, you took a comprehensive tour of Excel’s formatting fundamentals. But of course, just because those features exist doesn’t mean they’re easy to use. Digging through your options and applying a range of formatting settings can be a tedious task. Fortunately, Excel includes a few timesavers that speed up many formatting jobs.

In this chapter, you’ll try out the essential formatting techniques that every Excel guru loves. They include:

  • The Format Painter, which provides a quick-and-dirty way to transfer formatting from one cell to another.

  • Styles, which let you standardize your favorite formatting choices so you can use them again and again.

  • Themes, which give you a toolkit with a collection of ready-to-use styles that can jazz up the dullest worksheet.

  • Conditional formatting, which gets Excel to do the hard work of finding values you’re interested in and then highlighting them with custom formatting.

Once you master these four timesavers, you’ll have the secret to making great-looking worksheets.

The Format Painter

The Format Painter is a simple yet elegant tool that lets you copy all of a cell’s format settings—including fonts, colors, background fill, borders, and even the number format—from one cell to another. (Apparently, the Excel team decided that the more accurate label “Format Copier” wasn’t nearly as exciting as the name Format Painter.)

To use the Format Painter, follow these steps:

  1. Move to a cell that has the formatting ...

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