Due to the nature of these tutorials, consistency in formatting is a wee bit important.

So, I created this brief guide to serve as a reference to how I document Excel processes for you.

If you come across any inconsistencies in any of my posts, PLEASE let me know, no matter how inconsequential they may seem.

User experience is very important to me, and I want to ensure that my instructions are as clear as humanely possible. Thanks!

[Note: I create the majority my posts and tutorials using a Mac, and the instructions provided within reflect this. While there are some differences between pc and Mac versions of Excel, most are subtle and primarily have to do with where an element is located in the ribbon. If you use a pc (or are replicating this using Numbers or Sheets) and need assistance, please leave a comment! I respond to comments quickly]

First, a vocab lesson:

  • Ribbon: This is located near the top of the window and is a visual menu of Excel’s features, which are grouped into several tabs. Unless I state otherwise, assume that all actions I prescribe (that are ribbon-related) occur in the ‘Home’ tab.
  • Spreadsheet Grid: This is exactly what it sounds like – a spreadsheet grid! Don’t you hate definitions that don’t really define anything?!
  • Formula Bar: This is located smack dab between the ribbon and spreadsheet grid. When you click inside of a particular cell, it’s contents will be displayed both in the Formula Bar and in that cell.
  • Quick Access Toolbar: The area at the very top of the window where you can add frequently used features. By default, it contains your undo, redo, and save features.
  • Status Bar: This is located below the spreadsheet grid and it’s function is primarily to show you what your spreadsheet is processing at any given moment. It also shows you simple calculations likes sum and average for selected cells.

Your Guide to DLS Formatting

Second, a formatting guide:

To my knowledge, there isn’t a universal guide to formatting spreadsheet-related terms, features, commands, etc. when it comes to user tutorials.

So, I’ve taken the liberty of creating my own set of guidelines to ensure consistency between posts and to reduce reader confusion. It is possible that I’ll make changes to said guidelines if the need arises, but I promise you that it won’t happen often.

Any changes will be notated below.

  • ‘ ‘ : Text surrounded by single quotes represents an Excel-specific action/key/element/name. Here are some examples:
    • ‘Format as Table’ is a specific action
    • ‘OK’ refers to a pop-up box’s ‘OK’ button
    • ‘RGB (255, 255, 255)’ refers to the color black
    • ‘Sheet1’ is the default name given to a workbook’s first spreadsheet
  • italicized text : Italics are used to indicate the exact or placeholder content that must be typed by the user.
    • e.g. =sum(A1:C3)
  • => : This indicates that the initial stated action requires an immediate subsequent action.
    • e.g. ‘Format as Table’ => ‘New Table Style’ means you should choose the ‘New Table Style’ option after clicking the ‘Format as Table’ option
  • A1  : A bolded letter followed by a number represents the intersection of a column and row to form a cell. Similarly, it refers to a cell reference (a cell that a function or formula references)
    • e.g. A1 is the intersection of column A and row 1
  • A1:C3 : Two cells separated by a colon represents a range of cells – that is, all cells found within and including the first and last cells.
    • e.g. A1:C3 includes the following cells: A1, B1, C1, A2, B2, C2, A3, B3, C3
  • row 1 , column A : Like individual and ranges of cells, specific rows and columns are bolded.
  • [REPLACE] : Brackets and TEXT IN ALL CAPS can be thought of as “dummy text” and represent a function, formula, range, etc. that you will need to replace with your own function, formula, etc. Be sure to replace both the text and brackets.
    • e.g. =SUM([A1:C1]) indicates that the range A1:C1 contained within the SUM function is a “dummy range” and needs to be changed to your spreadsheet’s relevant range.
    • Note that I won’t be using this often because it can lead to confusion. Plus, my tutorials are based on real examples and will therefore include real ranges, functions, etc. I anticipate using [BRACKETED TEXT] primarily when responding to reader questions about their own spreadsheets.

Final Comments:

To make things clear and uncluttered, I’ve chosen to use lists whenever possible.

This sometimes results in what appears to be extraordinarily long posts.

Who freakin’ cares?!

I really do not know of a great workaround to this, but if you have any specific suggestions for WordPress plugins or the like, I’d love to know about them!

Also, if you find that anything at all could be explained better, I’m all ears. Please do share in the comments section below. Thanks!

Now, go here to find yourself some awesome posts and tutorials on subjects that interest you 🙂