Autoformatting

The easiest way to change the formatting on a table or cell in a spreadsheet, if you’re not feeling too picky about the results, is to use ‘Autoformat’, ‘Table/Cell Styles’, ‘Themes’, or whatever automatic formatting option your program gives you. This will usually set the background, the font color/size, alignment and the borders of the cells. It usually won’t merge or combine cells If you do it across a whole table it will often use different options for different rows.

If you’re formatting an entire table, then the options will probably include themes with different formats for different rows. Commonly the top row (the headers) will have one format, usually darker colors and stronger text. The rows below the header will have a more normal set of fonts, and may have a light background color for every other row. It’s not uncommon to have one or more automatic formatting options that give the bottom row a slightly stronger font and different borders, on the assumption that it’s a total.

To find the automatic formatting options for your spreadsheet program, you’ll need to start by being in the cell or table you want to format. You may need to select all of the table, depending on which program you’re in. After that, here’s what you do:

In Excel 97:

  1. Click on the ‘Format’ menu header, or type Alt-o
  2. In the menu that appears, click on “AutoFormat…” or type A.
  3. Scroll through the list of options, and select the one you want.
  4. Click OK.

In Excel 2007:

  1. Click on the ‘Home’ tab.
  2. In the ‘Styles’ set, click on either ‘Format as Table’ or ‘Cell Styles’.
  3. Browse the options, and click on the one you want.
  4. If you chose ‘Format as Table’ a new window will pop up. You’ll need to confirm the range to be used, and say whether the table has headers. If you say it does not have headers then it will insert a header row for you.

In Google Spreadsheet: Google Spreadsheet does not appear to currently have any AutoFormat abilities.

In OpenOffice Calc:

  1. Select an area that is at least 3×3 cells. That’s 3 cells across and 3 cells tall.
  2. Click on the ‘Format’ menu header, or type Alt-o
  3. In the menu that appears, click on “AutoFormat…” If AutoFormat is greyed out, make sure you’ve selected at least a 3×3 area.
  4. Scroll through the list of options, and select the one you want.
  5. Click OK.

In Microsoft Works Spreadsheet:

  1. Click on the ‘Format’ menu header, or type Alt-o
  2. In the menu that appears, click on ‘AutoFormat…’ or type ‘m’.
  3. Click on the relevant checkboxes for whether your table has row headers, row totals, column headers, and/or column totals.
  4. Browse the options and click on the one you want. A generic preview of each style, adjusted for your header/total selections, is shown in the panel below the option menu.
  5. Click on OK.