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Quick & Spiffy Tables in MS Excel

Friday, November 19th, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Excel

Quick & Spiffy Tables in MS Excel

Way back in January (January 28, 2003 to be exact) we discussed using the AutoFormat feature of MS Word to give your tables a quick and easy visual “edge”.

(To take a look at the January 28 issue, visit our archives at

For those readers who usually use MS Excel for table work, you might be happy to know that you too have the AutoFormat function at your disposal!

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… set up your table—data, labels and all.

Now highlight the table and data.

Next go to the Format menu, AutoFormat choice. (Alt then O then A works too.)

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 then 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 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 want only 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 choose, click OK.

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

~ April

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