Spreadsheet Formatting Guidelines

Spreadsheet Formatting Guidelines

Spreadsheet Formatting Guidelines

How to Start in an Online Business

Support Post for Phase 2 – Step 5


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Spreadsheet Formatting Guidelines

Spreadsheet Formatting Guidelines

This post is presented to provide specific information on Spreadsheet Formatting Guidelines for anyone who is not familiar with the Task of creating Spreadsheets. If you are already familiar with the process, you may either quickly review or skip this post entirely, as long as you are aware of the fact that all of your Spreadsheets should be created with uniformity in mind. Then continue with my next PostFormatting Your First Spreadsheet – Phase 2 – Step 5.


While there is a variety of different Accounting Software Programs that can be purchased, which will supply Templates to make this process easier, I will walk you through the process of creating them from scratch, which will Save you that Expense, as well as to allow you to create Custom Spreadsheets more suitable to your Online Affiliate Marketing Business.

Since there are a variety of different programs that can create Spreadsheets, it will be up to you to explore where to find all of the tools needed in the program that you choose to use, in order to complete the tasks that will be laid out. It would be impossible for me to address all of the available options, in all of the available programs, since I am unfamiliar with some of them.

I will simply explain each task that needs to be accomplished, and you will locate the area in your program which will accomplish each one, and apply it accordingly. I will show you my Formatting choices for each area. However, you are free to make your own choices in any and all areas, as long as you stay uniform throughout all of your Spreadsheets.


Initial Spreadsheet Formatting


The first thing that you need to do is to choose some Formatting options, so that all of your Spreadsheets will be Formatted in a similar fashion in order to have the aforementioned uniformity.

My standard choices are:

  1.  Font Type is:  Times New Roman. It is easy to read and comfortable to look at for long periods of time.

  2.  Font Sizes are:

    • 24 pt. for Title 
    • 16 pt. for Main Category Headings 
    • 14 pt. for Secondary Category Headings & Sub-Headings 
    • 12 pt. for most Column Headings 
    • 10 pt. for cell information

  3.  Shading is used in all Heading cells in order to make your Spreadsheets easier to read. When choosing your Shading, the Color and Pattern Color will be the same color, and usually 100% Solid.

    • Income Headings:  Shade:  Bright Green 
    • Expenses Headings:  Shade:  Red (with a White Font) 
    • Category Headings:  Shade:  Yellow 
    • Column Headings:  Shade:  Turquoise & Yellow (alternating) (except those that are for Income & ExpensesShade:  Bright Green & Red, respectfully


When creating any Spreadsheet, make sure that you Save your work often as you go. Begin by creating your Title and then Save. File all your Spreadsheets in an appropriately named Folder on your computer. You can name this Folder: My Bookkeeping for (current year).


OK. Let’s go into detail.


A Little About Spreadsheets


Once your Accounting System has been decided on, and you know how and when to record all of your transactions, it is time to set up your Books where all of this recording will take place and be stored. You will be setting up various Spreadsheets in order to keep all of these transactions organized.

As I said before, there is a variety of different programs that you can use to create your Spreadsheets. You can purchase and use an Accounting Software Program like:  QuickBooks by Intuit, Inc., if you prefer, but I am going to take you through the steps of creating your own Spreadsheets from scratch, so that you can easily customize them and know how it is done. Regardless of which program that you use to create your Spreadsheets, you should become familiar with all of the choices in your Tool Bar. You can practice on a blank Test Spreadsheet in order to become familiar with what each tool does.


Some terminology for Spreadsheets that you should understand, are as follows:

    • Cell – the individual box in any given area in a Spreadsheet.
    • Column – vertical areas (up & down) marked by the letters of the alphabet.
    • Rows (Lines) – any given Row or Line marked by numbers on the very left.
    • Identifying Specific Cells – use the Column letter followed by the Row number in which it is found, such as: ‘A1’.


Although each Spreadsheets Program will be a little different, here are some general suggestions on what certain tools will accomplish and where they might be found. Click on each in your program to see your specific options:

    • Insert – contains options for: Insert or Delete Row or Column, plus others (click on any cell to complete).
    • Format – contains options for: Alignment (which will include an option to: Wrap text within cell), Font Color, Shading, Column Width, and others.
    • Tools – contains options for: Spell Check, Sort, Easy Calculator, and more.


Remember, consistency is key, so keep in mind the Formatting choices that I outlined for you above, as well as the Formatting Guidelines that I will outline below:


Standard Formatting Guidelines


Remember, when choosing a Shading Color, choose the same Color for: Color and Pattern Color, as well as to choose: Solid (100%). Shading certain cells, like your Spreadsheet Title, Column Headings, and Category Headings, will make your Spreadsheet easier to read.

This is the way that I have my Spreadsheets Formatted, and is merely a suggestion to you. You are certainly free to customize your own Spreadsheets as you see fit. Just make sure that they are easily readable and understandable, for both yourself and any others that may need to review them. It is also very important to keep them consistent across the board.


Unless otherwise noted in individual instructions, use the following Guidelines for all of your Spreadsheets:

General Guidelines


  1.  Font Type:  ‘Times New Roman’ for all cells, (or whatever Font you decide to choose)

  2.  Font Color:  Black when Shading is:  Yellow, Turquoise, and Bright Green

                             White when Shading is:  Red

  3.  Line Spacing:

    • One blank Row before and after Headings.
    • One blank Row between last entry in a Category and the Sub-Total
    • Three blank Rows between Sub-Total and next Heading

  4.  Shading:  Bright Green for Income – Red for Expenses (This applies to Titles as well as Column Headings.)


Specific Guidelines


  1.  Spreadsheet ‘Title’:  Keyed into cell ‘A1’ (Any overrun will simply spill over into the adjoining cells.)

    • Font:  24 pt. 
    • Font Color:  dependent on Shading Color used
    • Bold:  Yes 
    • Align:  Left 
    • Shading:  Yes – Shade all the cells containing your ‘Title’(all cells in Row 1 that extend into any Columns)
    • Shading Color:  Bright Greenfor Income – Red for Expenses


  2.  Main Headings:

    • Font:  16 pt. 
    • Font Color:  Black 
    • Bold:  Yes 
    • Align:  Left 
    • Shading:  Yes 
    • Shading Color:  Yellow or Turquoise (see individual Spreadsheet instructions)


  3.  Categories and Sub-Headings:

    • Font:  14 pt. 
    • Font Color:  Black 
    • Bold:  Yes 
    • Align:  Left or Centered (Left in Column ‘A’, Centered in all others) 
    • Shading:  Yes 
    • Shading Color:  Yellow or Turquoise


  4.  Column Headings:

    • Font:  12 pt.
    • Font Color:  Black
    • Bold:  Yes
    • Align:  Centered 
    • Shading:  Yes
    • Shading Colors: 

              a.  Bright Green for Income
              b.  Red for Expenses (with White Font)
              c.  Yellow and Turquoise for all others (alternating)


  5.  Text Cells (‘Items’):

    • Font:  10 pt. 
    • Font Color:  Black 
    • Bold:  No 
    • Align:  Left 
    • Shading:  No


  6.  Number Cells (‘Cost’):

    • Font:  10 pt. 
    • Font Color:  Black 
    • Bold:  No 
    • Align:  Centered 
    • Shading:  No


  7.  Sub-Total, TOTAL, & GRAND TOTAL:

    • Font:  12 pt. Font, Capitalized as shown above 
    • Font Color:  dependent on Shading used 
    • Bold: Yes 
    • Align:  Centered 
    • Shading:  Yes 
    • Shading Color:

          a. Bright Green for Income

          b. Red for Expenses (with White Font)


Keep this post open when completing the Formatting for your Spreadsheets, so that you can easily refer to these Guidelines.


Please leave a Comment or ask a Question in the Comments section below.


When you are ready, continue on with my Post:  Formatting Your First Spreadsheet – Phase 2 – Step 6.


Thank you,

CJ Dodaro


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About Author

CJ Dodaro
I am a semi-retired, 65 year young man who has owned and operated a variety of successful business throughout my life. Starting most from scratch, I have acquired extensive knowledge for what is required for setting up a business properly from the ground up. Since these businesses have been both the brick & mortar type as well as the online variety, I feel qualified to help people in almost any business area that they wish to pursue. I wish to share the information that I have acquired in order to help other aspiring entrepreneurs become successful.

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