11. Formatting Cells Part 1

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Everyone wants great-looking spreadsheets, but we often don't know how to create them quickly and effectively. Learn how to do so in this lesson.

Lesson Notes

How to change cell format

- Cell format (font, fill, border & alignment) can be changed in the format dialog box
- However, it's much quicker to access commands in the ribbon using ALT + H

Useful keyboard shortcuts: Font

ALT + H, F, F: Change font type
ALT + H, F, S: Change font size
ALT + H, F, C: Access font colour dropdown
CTRL + B: Bold text
CTRL + I: Add italics
CTRL + U: Underline text

Useful keyboard shortcuts: Fill color


ALT + H, H: Access fill colour dropdown

Useful keyboard shortcuts: Borders and Gridlines


ALT + H, B: Access border dropdown
CTRL + SHIFT + -: Remove borders from selected cells
ALT + W,V, G: Show/Hide Gridlines


In addition to number formatting, we also have cell formatting which enables you to change font, fill, border and alignment within a cell. The fastest way to format cells in Excel is to use the ribbon shortcuts. If I press alt H, I can access a range of shortcuts in the font section of the ribbon. Let's start by changing the size of the text in the selected cell. If I press F S and change the font size to say, 15 this increases the size of the font within the cell. I can also change the font color in the ribbon by pressing alt H F C, and then select my chosen color within the drop down.

Star commands such as bold, italic and underline can also be accessed in the ribbon, but for these commands I tend to use the traditional shortcuts common to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Control B to bold text, control I to add italics and control U to underline. To remove these styles just repeat the commands, control B, control I and control U.

Often we'll want to format the top row of column names in a different format to the row entries. In this example I'm going to give the top row of cells a blue fill.

So in my selected cell I'll press alt H H to bring up the fill drop down and select a dark blue color.

I clearly need to change the text color so that it can be seen alt H F C and I'll select white, which is much more readable.

And lastly I'll change the size of the text and bring it back to 11.

Once I'm happy with this format I'll copy with control C, select the row with shift space bar and then paste formats with alt E S T.

The next formatting topic I want to show you are cell borders. First select the cells you wish to put the border around. In this case I want to select the top five orders.

Next, press alt H B to bring up the border drop down.

And I'll select S for outside borders, and as you can see this applies a border around the top five rows. To remove the border select the cells again and control shift minus, and this removes the border around all of the selected cells. In addition to adding borders you can also change the grid lines that appear on a spreadsheet. Unlike borders, grid lines don't appear when you print your spreadsheet but they are present by default when you're using Excel. Some users prefer to remove the grid lines, and to do this simply go to the view tab alt W and then V G to remove grid lines. If you press the shortcut again the grid lines reappear.

Grid lines are very much a personal preference so I'll leave it up to you to decide on this setting.

In this lesson I've covered the most common formatting actions you'll perform in Excel. However if you'd like to explore additional formatting commands, just press control one to bring up the format cells dialog box. And using the arrows cycle through the various formatting tabs, which will show Excel's full list of formatting options.