Posts Tagged ‘formatting’

Techie Tip of the Week: Conditional Formatting in Excel

Friday, August 12th, 2011

In Excel, conditional formatting allows you to set up rules to format cells based on a set of criteria.

For example, let’s say you want to quickly figure out how well students are doing in a class. In the example below, using conditional formatting, the students who score 90% or higher are highlighted in green; the students who score between 80 and 89% are highlighted in yellow; the students who score less than 80% are highlighted in red.

In Excel 2003 and earlier, to use conditional formatting, select the cell, and then on the Format menu, select Conditional Formatting, and then set the conditions.

In Excel 2007 and newer, select the cell, and then on the Home tab, click Conditional Formatting and then click Manage Rules. Then, set the conditions.

Without Conditional Formatting:

With Conditional Formatting:

IT Services Tip of the Week: Use Styles instead of Direct Formatting

Friday, August 5th, 2011

When creating or updating content using Microsoft Office products (e.g., Microsoft Word), you have two main options for formatting the document to change how it looks:

  • direct formatting (using the formatting toolbars)
  • styles

Direct Formatting

Direct formatting involves selecting the text, and then using the various drop- down menus and icons to select the formatting.

For example, to format a heading, you might select the text that will become the heading, click the B button to make it bold, change the font, and then change the size.

Direct formatting is a reasonable choice for a relatively small document, but for most documents, direct formatting can cause problems:

  • it’s easy to make mistakes (if you have multiple headings, you’ll need to make sure that each heading looks exactly the same, and apply exactly the same formatting choices)
  • it’s difficult to modify (if you decide later that you want a different style for the headings, you’ll need to modify each and every heading with the new style)


While most people tend to use direct formatting, a better choice is to use styles. Styles are:

  • a combination of formatting properties (e.g., font, font size, and paragraph indentation) that are named and saved as a set. When styles are applied to selected text, all the formatting properties in that style are applied.
  • semi-permanent repositories of formatting information. Once you create a style, you can reuse that same style in future documents.
  • easily modified. If you change your mind about how a particular style should look, modify the style, and all content attached to that style is likewise affected.

If you format your document using styles instead of direct formatting, you will be able to quickly and easily apply formatting choices consistently throughout the document.

To create or modify styles in MS Office 2003/2004/2008:

  1. On the Format menu, click Styles and Formatting (2003) or Style (2004/2008).
  2. Click New to create a new style.
    Or, to modify an existing style, select it and click Modify.
  3. Define your style by selecting the font choices and the paragraph settings. Click OK.
  4. Then, in the Style window, click Apply.
  5. To use your style, select the text. Then, on the Styles toolbar, click the desired style.

To create or modify styles in MS Office 2007/2010/2011:

  1. To create a new style, in the Styles group, click the Styles Pane icon, and then the New Style icon.
    Or, to modify an existing style, right-click the style and click Modify.
  2. Define your style by selecting the font choices and the paragraph settings. Then, click OK.
  3. To use your style, select the text. Then, in the Styles group, click the desired style.