Make Excel data easier to read with these tips

If reading an Excel spreadsheet leaves you feeling cross-eyed, there are simple steps you can take to make the information easier to handle. Mary Ann Richardson shows how to delineate the data by changing the gridlines and columns.

Reading figures in Excel across long rows of data and columns can be difficult. By spending a few moments sprucing up your worksheet, you can make it easier for your users to read your spreadsheet on the screen or on a printout. Here are a few methods for putting an end to hard-to-read data.

One way to make column data easier to read is to have the column labels stand out from the rest of the data, such as using bold white type on a dark background. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the column header cells.
  2. Click the Fill button in the Formatting toolbar and select Dark Gray.
  3. Click the Font Color button and select White.

Too many gridlines can distract the eye from the actual data. To remove them, click the Sheet tab and follow these steps:

  1. Go to Tools | Options.
  2. Click in the View tab and clear the Gridlines check box under Window Options.
  3. Click OK.

Once you remove the gridlines, you can distinguish the formula cells from the data cells by adding borders to the cells. For example, to differentiate the Total cells, select the cells in the Total row, click on the Borders tool in the Formatting toolbar, and select the last border in the second row.

Finally, to make those long rows of data easier to read, add a light background color to every other row. Follow these steps:

  1. Press [Ctrl] as you select every other row of data.
  2. Click the Fill button in the formatting toolbar and select Light Blue.

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