How to make your Excel models look more professional – 3 quick tips

Excel function tutorials, Excel spreadsheets (.xls)

Instead of writing another long Excel function tutorial, I wanted to dedicate a quick post on how to make your Excel models look 100x better. No matter what version of Excel you’re using, there are three easy things you can do to make your tables and models easier on the eyes, easier to use, and more professional. I’ll show you the transformation alongside an example.

First, let’s suppose this simple table is what we originally start with:


Step 1: Change the font to “Gill Sans MT”. This is the font recommended by , an expert on the visual display of data. In Excel 2007, the default font is something called “Calibri”, which is also an improvement over the default “Arial” that came in previous versions of Excel. Here’s what that simple change does to our table:


Step 2: Don’t use extra decimals where not needed, and consider changing 0s to “-” for readability. To do this, simply select the numerical data you want to format, click on the “,” icon on the menu bar, and then click on the icon that decreases decimals (it looks something like “.00 -> 0”). Just doing that makes things much more readible:


Finally, step 3: Turn off the gridlines. To do this in Excel 2003, go to Tools >> Options >> General and make sure the box by “Gridlines” is unchecked. Our table now looks like this:


And voila. How much better does that look? Of course, there’s plenty of additional stuff you can do (put in lines to separate totals, put in dollar signs in some areas), but these three steps can always be done on any Excel model. Give it a whirl sometime.


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17 Feedbacks on "How to make your Excel models look more professional – 3 quick tips"

Chris Neuhaus

Those are the dumbest tips I have ever heard. Thanks for wasting my time with this dribble.


I believe you meant “drivel” and not “dribble”. Critiques are more credible when written correctly :P

Trade Stock in UK

I beg to differ on the last advice… but only partually.
I do a lot of stock market analysis in excel and I agree that ticking gridlikes off is a good idea. But now imagine you have a table say 50×10 it would be difficult to read the data… instead, try to use the borders but use dotted lines and light grey and do headers in bold with a bit bigger font and say dark blue background (white font though) and you’ll see the huge difference.
I had to present my stock market information to some brokers and they loved it.

Frank Fowler

love the down to earth approach in explaining things. so many Excel web sites presume one knows a lot re Excel not to mention that many users are not native English speakers. would love to see some articles on macros here.
cheers Frank


Is it possible to set it up so that it always display zero decimal when you click on the ” , ” function?

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How to make your Excel models look more professional – 3 quick tips | Experiments in Finance


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