4 Things that Make a Great Spreadsheet Report

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Let's face it; Excel spreadsheets can be pretty bland - or worse, downright hard to read. We've all been given a spreadsheet that was messy and confusing. We have to either struggle to read it or go in to edit it ourselves.

You don't want to be the person submitting that kind of report, so here are four things that turn your bland Excel report into a great one. 

Clean, Group, and Sort Data

Before you do anything, clean up the data in your spreadsheet. You'll want to eliminate unnecessary columns or rows, and if there is extra data, you can delete it as well.

Make your spreadsheet easy to read by grouping data together and sorting as needed, especially if you're working with a lot of data. People want to see numbers that pertain to them and their department, so make sure they can find that data easily. 

Style the Text

You don't have to stick to default fonts. Consider using one font for the main text and another for headers - but remember to stick to an easy-to-read font like Arial. (Don't even think of using Papyrus in a spreadsheet.) While you're formatting text, you may want to adjust the sizes. A larger size for headings and sub-headings are ideal but don't make the main text too tiny, or no one will be able to read it. 

You should also focus on text alignment. Left is best for everything except titles or headings. Centering those makes them jump out. 

Include Graphs and Charts

Sometimes data is better understood when presented with graphs or charts. By all means, create a simple graph or chart if it will help convey the information you need to present. But keep in mind that some graphs and charts are easier to read than others. 

Stay away from over-the-top formats like the 3D graphs and stick with a simple bar graph. This is another opportunity to use color to your advantage. You can use multiple colors if they are needed to distinguish between types of data, but make sure you don't go overboard.

Keep It Simple

And on that note, even though this might sound counterintuitive, you should keep it simple. Yes, follow the advice above, but you don't want to overdo it with colors, fonts, and design. Keeping the spreadsheet simple is key to comprehension. You'll want to focus on the important details: bold headings, use a color theme and keep them modest, even spacing, simple fonts, correct formatting of rows, and columns. 

Want to learn more about how to create a great spreadsheet report? Join expert Randall Bolten on January 11 for a free live webinar on the Evolution of a Great Spreadsheet Report.