In spreadsheets, you’re used to seeing data arranged in basic rows and columns. This works great for many scenarios, but it isn’t the most visually attractive option available to you. In fact, Excel has built-in table features that help you create stunning layouts in seconds. Let’s learn how to use tables in Microsoft Excel.
How to Use Tables in Excel
Chances are, you may find yourself sharing Excel spreadsheets with other users. Or, you may want to take the data from them and use it in other apps like PowerPoint slideshows. Either way, the basic row-and-column layout has a couple of key downsides. First, it’s not visually appealing, since it typically lacks all but the most basic text formatting.
Plus, tables are easier to read, especially if you’re showing off a large volume of data. Tables help add a splash of color. And contrast, as we all know, helps text and numbers become much more readable.
Let’s look at how to build and work with tables in Excel. Your easiest bet is to simply start off with row-and-column data like you see here.
Keep in mind, the data itself is the framework of your table. What the table does is add visual styling and new layouts to the existing data. Tables won’t move rows and columns without your input, so it’s safe to lay out rows and columns just as you want them to soon be arranged in a newly-created table.
Once you have your data placed on your sheet, it’s time to insert the table. Excel does this nearly automatically. Begin by clicking into any cell within the range of your data. Then, navigate to the Home tab on Excel’s ribbon.
Near the right side, you’ll see the Format as Table dropdown menu. Click on this, and you’ll see an array of options appear. Excel features designs with light, medium, and dark color modes. As you browse, consider how you’ll be sharing the table. It’s essential to pick an attractive layout that readers will find easy to see.
Once you’ve found a color style that you’re comfortable with, click on its thumbnail. Excel automatically detects the range of your table, since you have empty cells surrounding it. But you can override this autofill and manually type in the correct range, if necessary.
Excel also asks you to check a box if your table has headers. Headers are essentially column headers. If you do, check the box, then press OK to convert the dataset into a table.
Excel will automatically insert the table in place of your selected range. Notice how much benefit the simple color contrast provides. It’s easier to distinguish one line from another, and all of your data stands out more clearly.
Notice too that Excel adds dropdown filter arrows to your data. You can sort this dataset by state, for example, by clicking on those arrows. If you’d rather not see filters, simply click the Filters checkbox on the Table tab, now found on Excel’s ribbon.
From here, you have even more options. You can name your table in the Table Name box on the ribbon. You can also run analysis steps on the table data, with the ability to remove duplicates, for example. And don’t forget to add the optional total row to sum up your data.
As you can see, it’s easy to convert data values into easy-to-read, stylish tables in Microsoft Excel. These make your data look better, and they make it easier to manipulate. It’s the ultimate win-win, giving you additional form and function alike. Add tables to your Excel spreadsheets today!