Formatting elements: Borders (Nifty tricks)

There’s actually some pretty useful things you can do using borders, although only some of them are useful in tables.

Graph paper
Want to make a quick sheet of graph paper for a school project or something? Just highlight all the cells and set the same borders all around them. You’ll want to change the column width as well, to get little squares instead of rectangles. To get it to print you might have to have a space or a period in the lower right corner of the page you want to print.

You can also have a slightly fancier sheet of graph paper, like the one I’ve shown here, by taking a set of 5×5 cells and adding pale or dotted borders between all the individual cells, then solid or stronger borders around the whole set. Then you can copy that set and paste it across the rest of the sheet.

Hex paper
Want to make a sheet of hexes for maps, or for a honeybee art project or something? You can do that, too, although you need to have a program that can make diagonal borders. You just need to adjust the column width or row height, add 3 borders, and then copy & paste the results in a specific way.

  1. Decrease the column width or increase the row height until the cells are approximately square. (For perfect hexagons, column A,C,E, etc. should be a narrower than column B, D, F, etc.)
  2. First border: A1, diagonal border, lower-left to upper-right.
  3. Second border: A2, diagonal border, upper-left to lower-right.
  4. Third border: B1, horizontal border, top of the cell.
  5. Copy A1:B2.
  6. Paste into A3:B4, or A3:B20, or however long you want the column.
  7. Copy A1:B20 (or however many rows you made it).
  8. Go to cell C2.
  9. Paste. You should now have a column of hexagons.
  10. If desired, go to cell E1 and paste again. This will give you a 2nd column of hexagons
  11. Repeat until satisfied.


Lastly, you can use borders to easily delineate groups. The example I’ve shown here is for students who have a variety of grades every week, but it’s helpful for almost any kind of statistic where breaking it up into logical groups like this could make it easier to read by making it all fit on a single page. Financially it could be used to track the historical annual high and lows of a number of stocks or mutual funds — the fund name would be where the student name is, you’d have high and low instead of homework/quiz/participation, and you’d have years instead of week. A third possible use of this format is displaying teaching statistics per month & teacher or topic in libraries. You could have the teacher’s name or topic where the student name currently is, then undergraduate/graduate/staff taught, and the columns would be the months. Really, the possible permutations are endless, and all depend on your needs.