Cell Formatting

    Excel allows the user to determine the style of cells. Style can include cell color, font style, color and size. To set the format of a cell click on the cell with the right button and select format cell. The format dialog (Figure 1) may also be selected by clicking Format -> Cells, or pressing Ctrl+1.

(Figure 1)

    From this dialog, one may set the format of the cell using the options under the appropriate tab. Also, the number tab allows the user to format numbers based on the time of data used. For example, selecting currency allows formats the cell to show numbers with two decimal places and, by default, preceded by the dollar sign. Another example of the usefulness of format is formatting a whole column. Clicking on the gray letter at the top of a column selects the whole column. Opening the format dialog, Figure 1, after selecting a whole column, will then format the entire column. This is useful if you have a column of only numbers, for example currency.

Cell Borders

    The Borders of the cells can also be set from the format dialog. This function is listed, naturally, under the "Border" tab.

(Figure 2)

    In this dialog, one can click within the "Text" area and select where an outline should be placed. The appearance of the line can be select in the "Style" box on the right, but a solid line is selected by default.

    Within the alignment tab, one can change the orientation of the text. For example, column titles could be made to angle downward at a 45-degree angle. To do this click on the alignment tab and use the orientation box in the upper-right hand corner, where 0-degrees is horizontal, normal text.


    Sometimes it can be useful to combine multiple cells into one large cell. This can be particularly useful with column titles. To combine cells select the cells to combine, and open the format dialog. Under the alignment tab, select merge cells on the left. This will merge the cells. In the following Figure, 3, cells D11:F18 have been merged into one cell. From that point on the new merged cell can be treated as one cell, i.e. formatting and formulas.

(Figure 3)

Cell Grouping

    Rows and columns can be grouped together to allows them to be collapsible, as shown in Figures 4 and 5. Once cells have been grouped together, clicking on the "+" and "-" buttons will open and close the cell group.


(Figure 4)                                       (Figure 5)

    To group rows together, select the rows to group. Then go to Data -> Group and Outline -> Group.

    To group column together, select the columns to group. Then go to Data -> Group and Outline -> Group.

    Following the same procedures will ungroup the cells.

Pane Freezing

(Figure 6)

    Freezing a pane allows the user to keep cells stationary when someone scrolls through the sheet. This can be particularly useful when naming columns, for example, with budgets. To freeze a row, select the entire row beneath the row to freeze. Then go to Window -> Freeze Pane.

    To freeze a column, select the entire column to the right of the column to freeze. Then go to Window -> Freeze Pane.

    To freeze both a column and a row, select the cell to the right of the column and beneath the row. Then go to Window -> Freeze Pane.

    To unfreeze a pane, simply go to Window -> Unfreeze Pane.

Copyright 2008 David Coss