Too many teams spend almost as long hacking together their Excel reporting structures as they do pulling the actual data set together. Yes, Microsoft Excel is an invaluable tool… but Excel formatting isn’t always pretty. Luckily, are a few equally universal ways to fix this universal problem. And for the most part, they involve common sense simplifications!

Incorporating a few oft-overlooked Excel best practices will help make your reports easier to parse and read, but they also serve another, arguably more valuable purpose: the simpler and more to-the-point your sheets are, the easier they will be to reproduce every month. The less time you spend on formatting busy work, the more time you’ll have to get more important tasks done – like analysis! EBM and our Excel experts can help. We asked our team to share their personal favorite time-saving Excel “hacks.” Here’s what they came up with:

1. How to Clean up your Excel reporting

First thing’s first: finance teams constantly add too much information to their Excel spreadsheet. The more info you add, the more cumbersome your report is. A good report tells one, cohesive story per data tab.

Luckily, there are some surprisingly simple ways to make your information much more readable:

A. Turn off Gridlines

Go into the view tab and turn off gridlines to make your spreadsheet look far less busy.


TURN OFF GRIDLINES: “Alt,” W,” “V,” and “G” at the same time

B. Freeze labels and headers

Freezing” your row labels and column headers keeps them in view, even as you scroll.


FREEZE LABELS AND HEADERS: “Alt,” “W,” and “F” at the same time

C. Insert blank rows and columns

Keep the first row and column of each of your tabs blank whenever you can.


INSERT BLANK ROWS: “Shift” and “Space” to select a row (1), and then “Shift,” “Ctrl,” and the “+” button at the same time (2)

(1) “Shift” and “Space”

(2) “Shift” and “Ctrl” and “Plus”

INSERT BLANK COLUMNS: Press “Control” and “Space” to