Formatting elements: Backgrounds (Nifty tricks)

There’s actually some pretty fun effects you can make using backgrounds, though I don’t necessarily recommend using them in tables. Here’s a sampling of them, and how to do them.

Want to have cells that alternate colors, like a chessboard, checkerboard, or checkered starting flag? You can set each cell’s background individually, but there’s also an easier way.

Simply set the background in A1, then copy & paste it to B2. Then select the 2×2 area A1 through B2, and copy it. Now if you select any x by y area where x and y are both even, you can paste and have an instant checkerboard! This can be done in any spreadsheet program. In the picture I’ve also resized the columns so that they’re square.

You can only do this effect with spreadsheets that can do gradient backgrounds, and of the set I’m currently covering Excel 2007 is the only one with this capability.

However, if you can do gradients then it’s pretty easy! I only had to set the background in 7 cells, and then copy the results to other rows.

In cell A1 I set the background as a gradient from red on the left to orange on the right. B1 got orange to yellow, C1 got yellow to green, etc.


Lastly, in the spirit of the day, a quick piece of art.

Not really a lot of shortcuts here…I did create a single green cell and then copied and pasted it to make all the others, and then did the same with the red, but that’s it. The garlands are just regular slashes and dashes, but I made the font yellow.

Happy holidays to everyone, and I look forward to many more posts in the new year!