Styles in Excel
Tips for using styles
If you like to keep an overview of what styles are available in your file I'd advise you to add a special worksheet to your workbook. Put the names of the styles in column A and an example output in column B:
Table with styles in a worksheet
If you need to adjust a style, select the cell in column B and adjust the style settings from there.
Creating a new style based on an existing one is easy now: Just copy the applicable row and insert it anywhere in the table. Select the cell in column B of the newly inserted row and choose "Format", "Style...". Enter the name of the new style and click Add. Then click Modify to change the style details. Don't forget to update the name in column A too.
I advise you to use styles as strictly as you can. Avoid modifying one formatting element of a cell with a style. Instead, consider if it is worth the effort to add a new style. If for instance you have a style for percentage with 2 decimal places and you have a cell which requires three, then add a style for that purpose. You can thank me later.
Adapting this method will likely trigger you to think about what cell styles your document will need. By doing this your Excel models will gradually improve. You'll gain in consistency and loose the ad-hoc (often messy) formatting jungle.
Use functional sets of styles
By looking at your Excel model you will likely be able to categorise your workbook cells into various categories:
- Input cells
Cells that are the main input to your model
- Parameter cells
Cells that contain constants for your model, such as boundaries.
- Output cells
Cells in an area that is meant for output, such as printing or presenting the results of a calculation on screen.
- Calculation cells
The cells where the actual calculation work is performed
- Boundary cells
By shading otherwise empty cells you can easily make areas with differing functions stand out from other areas.
Consider creating styles for each of these cell functions, each (e.g.) having its own fill color. Don't forget to make decisions on whether or not a style's locked property needs to be on or off. If you use a system like this, it becomes very easy for you to maintain your file. Imagine how easy it now becomes to change a cell from an input to an output cell: you change its style. Done.