Add Some Style to Your Tables in Excel Reports

Summary tables in Excel reports have always been difficult to format so they don't LOOK like Excel tables. Here's one extreme method you might want to try.

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Summary tables in Excel reports have always been difficult to format so they don't LOOK like Excel tables. Here's one extreme method you might want to try.Excel tables in reports have always been difficult for me to format professionally. So every once in a while, I experiment with them.

The two tables below show you one set of results.

As always, I used my Excel Productivity methods to download the data for these figures. Because I did so, I can update them month-after-month with one command.

Each month, worksheet formulas sort the industries automatically, in descending order by the number of employees gained in the month. And then formulas in the table’s staging areas set up the new data for display in the table below.

You could do the same thing with internal data…

This Excel table seems to have too much formatting. In a sense, that's the other extreme of most table in reports, which have too little formatting.

…but probably NOT by copying this figure, which is over-formatted.

This figure consists of…

  • A tan area from the cell colors behind the other objects.
  • Text boxes in the top row. (I used the UNICHAR function to generate the Delta symbol, as I explained in US National Financial Conditions Using Excel Panel Charts.)
  • Maroon rectangle shapes with rounded corners, with their transparency set to 23%.
  • A teal rectangle shape with rounded corners.
  • And most importantly, a Linked Picture Object (formerly called a Camera Object) to display the row labels and data.

To set up the object, I set up and formatted the row labels and values in an another worksheet, formatted their font color as white,  copied that area, and then used Home, Clipboard, Paste, Paste As Linked Picture to the table above.

Because I didn’t like the over-formatting in the first table, I copied its page in my workbook and then created this version:

This Excel table is identical to the first one, but with different formatting.

This version is much better, I think! I tried making the gray area lighter, but that made the white column labels less readable. So I left it as it is.