Chapter 17. Formatting and Charts: Well-Dressed Spreadsheets

When many of us mere mortals see row after row and column after column of numbers, our eyes glaze over and a certain portion of our brain goes numb. There are others who insist that numbers are exciting when you see the dramatic stories they tell about success and failure. This chapter shows you how to make those columns of numbers tell their story in a way that’s immediately accessible and understandable.

For starters, you’ll learn how to dress up your worksheets with attractive fonts, background and colors border styles. Now, these techniques don’t generally wring the story out of your numbers, but something like banded background colors will make it easier for the Board to read your numbers.

Excel’s charts (sometimes called graphs) are the key to making your numbers give up their secrets. A good chart pinpoints the moment when your business went from losing money to making it, or (gulp) vice versa. A chart can point out that your variegated flashitometer sells best in the winter months and that sales to the Lake States have grown steadily for the last 7 quarters. Excel 2011 adds a new charting feature called Sparklines. These mini-charts fit in a cell right next to your data. They don’t have the eye-popping visual impact of full blown charts, but they play a role in revealing the story hidden in those numbers.

Excel offers so many different styles of charts, it may be hard for you pick the right one to tell your story. ...

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