Are you looking for ways to organize your Excel spreadsheets like a pro? With the right tips and tricks, you can easily become an Excel expert. We’ve compiled four of the best methods that will help you get organized in no time!
You won’t have to worry about spending hours organizing your data ever again. Plus, with our easy-to-follow instructions, it’ll be a breeze! Read on now and learn how to organize Excel like a pro!
#1 – Clearly Mark Input Cells
Some cells in Excel are meant to be touched, and others are not. Instead of guessing or trying to keep track of them all, clearly notate which cells are for input. The strategy I use is to mark the cells with a yellow background and blue font. Formula-driven or fixed cells will remain in the standard white background and black text.
In the example below, a dynamic index, the only input field is the month which is clearly marked using a yellow background and blue font.
#2 – Create a Control Tab for Inputs
My favorite technique to organize Excel like a pro is creating a designated control tab for inputs. This takes the first concept further by creating a one-stop shop for adjustments.
In the example below, I lifted forecasting assumptions onto a unique tab titled “Control.” All of the adjustable fields for the spreadsheet have been lifted onto this tab. You can do your work here, and then review the output and conduct analysis on separate tabs.
#3 – Organize Tabs by Type
The next strategy is to organize tabs by the type of information they contain. Additionally, you should clearly label and section the tabs. I often use the following categories:
- Input – this is where the control tab should go
- Analysis – this is where forecast models, P&Ls, and other analytics should go
- Data – Bulk data sets such as General Ledger or EMR exports
- Reference – Materials you want available but aren’t part of the analysis
In the example below, I created sections for each of these using blank tabs (Inputs->) and then organized the tabs as needed.
#4 – Reference the Original Data Point
When working with complex spreadsheets, we often create cascading data points. This means we link to the nearest reference instead of the original data point. In the example below, the hourly wage in D14 is linked to C14 which is linked to the input tab.
Not only do these cascading data points slow down Excel, but they also create confusion for you and other users when troubleshooting or adjusting calculations. The best practice is always linking back to the original data point as shown in C14 below.
Why Is Organizing Excel Important?
Have you ever worked with a spreadsheet that was difficult to understand? Chances are, it wasn’t organized properly. Organization is key to streamlining your Excel processes and ensuring that data is accurate. Plus, when everything is clearly labeled and broken down into easy-to-find sections, anyone can quickly locate what they need without having to spend hours digging through tabs and researching formulas.
How Can I Learn More About Excel?
The best way to learn Excel is practice and training. Check out our list of the best Excel courses for Finance to start learning today!
Have any questions on how to organize Excel like a pro? Are there other topics you would like us to cover? Leave a comment below and let us know! Remember to subscribe to our Newsletter to receive exclusive financial news in your inbox.