Planning Strategies for Excel Worksheets

Excel is so versatile that you can use it for many different purposes. Before you begin an Excel project, take a moment to ask yourself a few simple questions, such as

  • What do you want to achieve?

  • Who will view the worksheet?

  • Will you work alone on the worksheet or collaborate with your co-workers?

  • What do you want to do with the information?

Excel is a multifeature program with lots of options. You can create a simple worksheet with a few lines or a multipage, linked file. Some examples of Excel files are available at the Microsoft Web site at In addition, if you're using Excel in the office, take a look at some of the files created by your co-workers. Chances are, a format for budgets or expense reports is already in use at your company.

As you work with Excel, remember that someone else might look at your finished product. Try not to cram all your information into one area. Organize your worksheet so that it's easy to see the flow of information. Use white space and attributes, like bold and underline, to identify important points. If the worksheet is going to be part of a presentation, consider using graphic images, charts, and maps to make your point.

If your worksheet will ultimately include the input and ideas of your co-workers, make sure that the worksheet is easy to follow. Cryptic abbreviations and notes that make sense to you might not make much sense to a colleague.

Changing the appearance of an Excel worksheet is a snap! You can also change the data contained within a worksheet. For example, you can transpose your rows with columns, and vice versa. Because Excel is part of the Office 2003 suite, you can easily integrate your Excel worksheets with the other Office programs.

After you put together the worksheet basics, experiment a little. When your work is saved, play around and add several different effects. You'll probably come up with some very special ways to present your data and have fun while you learn.

    Part I: Excel Basics