Styles are more fashionable

  • Tagged with:
  • Excel,
  • Formatting,
  • Spreadsheets,
  • Styles,

One of the most powerful and most easily understood (but least used) features in Excel is Styles.

Styles allow you to define a cell format (things like number format, shading, borders, etc), give this format a meaningful name (such “input”) and then apply this format to cells in your workbook.  ”Ok ” — you say — ”But I can just as easily format cells individually on the fly, and I can even copy a cell’s format and paste this to other cells”. Yes, you can, but here’s why doing it like this is problematic:

  1. You have to find a “source” cell whose format you like, then click something or type Ctrl-C to copy, then find your “destination” cell or cells and then more clicks to paste this format. It’s a fair bit of effort.
  2. To change the format of all of these similar looking cells you have to repeat the whole process.
  3. You may want to share your model, or print it out, with certain shadings or formatting characteristics turned off. More effort. And how do you revert back to the way you want to see your model?

Well, Styles solve all of these problems and more.  Once you have created a Style (let’s say you call it “input”) then applying this to other cells in your workbook is often only a 2-click process. Then turning parts of the formatting off globally is easy – just modify the Style via the Style dialog (Format>Style). Also, if you use meaningful names then when you click on any cell which has a Style applied to it, you’ll see the name in the Style drop-down in your toolbar.  (You’ll probably need to customise your own toolbar first to get the Style drop-down to appear.)

Anyway, setting up your Excel environment to use Styles (not too hard), and learning how to use them (easy), is a really powerful feature and is highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I use Excel 2003, and have not migrated (downgraded?) to Excel 2007. Styles work a bit differently in 2007 and are given more prominence, but I’m still not sure that many people use them properly.

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