MS Excel Secrets - Auto Formatting

A good choice of background colour, font style and font size, plus other formatting options can make the most important information on the spreadsheet stand out from the rest of the data.Formatting a spreadsheet effectively helps in that.

There are 17 Auto Format styles available. These styles affect six main formatting areas: number formatting, borders, fonts, patterns and background colour, alignment, and column and row size.


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Choose an Appropriate Style

Keep in mind how the spreadsheet will be used when selecting an Auto Format style:

  1. Printed off and given to the audience as a hand out.
  2. Used solely in a slide show presentation.
  3. Emailed to just a few associates.
Some of the styles are very "graphic intensive" and would not print well, and some are just not appropriate for business reports. Be sure to choose a style in keeping with your subject and your audience.

To modify a style before applying it, click on the options button in the Auto Format dialogue box. Doing so, will allow you to deselect any of the six formatting areas such as font, borders, or alignment before applying the style. The spreadsheet example in the dialogue box will show you what the style will look like with the different options deselected.

Fine-Tune Your Style Choice

Once you have applied a style you can modify it further using Excel’s regular formatting options located under the Format menu and on the formatting tool bar.

To apply an AutoFormat style to your worksheet

Select only the data on the worksheet that you want formatted.


  1. Choose Format > AutoFormat from the menus to bring up the AutoFormat dialog box.
  2. Scroll through the list of styles.
  3. Click on the one you want to use.
  4. Click OK.

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