Excel is used for reporting so frequently, that we take its capabilities for granted. Yet, creating a spreadsheet report requires skills beyond using Excel formulae and functionalities. We asked 7 entrepreneurs and business owners for their insights on creating the best Excel reports.
Here are seven best practices for report automation in Excel:
Give Your Report a Clear Structure
Effective Excel reports require clear structure. You can use Excel to create data visualizations that are technically correct but difficult to read if you neglect tools such as color coding and charts. Spreadsheets help with organization, but they don’t immediately highlight pertinent information. You want the audience to understand insights and develop solutions. When you craft reports, determine what data you want your audience to focus on and focus on using a clear structure to tell that data’s story.
Bill Glaser, Outstanding Foods
Choose The Right Format for Your Target Audience
The first step to creating an effective Excel report is to properly organize the data. Reports should follow a logical format, starting with a title, and include all pertinent information such as the purpose of the report and any disclaimers or limitations. Next, include all relevant data in the report, including both raw numbers and any statistics or calculations that were used to interpret them. Then, identify any key takeaways from the data and highlight them in bold.
When creating one, it's also crucial to choose a suitable presentation style for your Excel report. You can create charts and graphs to visually represent your data, or you can simply provide details about the data in traditional numerical ways. Think this one through, but whatever style you choose, make sure it is clear and easy to understand. At last, be sure to check your report before you publish it. This will help you ensure that it is error-free and that all of your data is correct.
Peter Bryla, ResumeLab
Make The Information in Your Report Clear and Concise
Having clear, concise information is key for an effective Excel report. You do not want to overwhelm the viewer with too much information. Remember to only have the columns and rows that are necessary. The more you have the more complicated your data will appear. When it comes to presenting the report, remember that you can share information verbally without having to cram it into a data table.
Gerald Lombardo, The Word Counter
Convert Your Excel Report To PDF Format
This is one step that most people usually take for granted. PDF reports are much superior to regular excel reports. The problem with excel reports is that one lousy press can delete all the data in your report when presenting. Having a PDF report is good since they are non-editable. They are very effective when on a presentation and even post-presentation when you want to make comments. As much as it might not seem important, please make sure you convert your excel to PDF for ease of presentation.
Gisera Matanda, WeLoans
Align Your Entries
When preparing excel reports, most people will fall short by failing to align their excel entries before presenting their reports. It is more than crucial to ensure that each entry is aligned to support organized rendering and enable easy data comprehension. An excellent excel report will always display a high level of organization and rank well for easy interpretation of the data.
Mehtab Ahmed, LoansJury
Use Excel Pivot Tables
Using pivot tables in excel reports is a very critical step. It enhances the ease of data analysis. It is also important in adding new data without upsetting the report. The data is easily summarized on pivot tables by dragging columns into the different sections of the table. The columns can also be rearranged easily with just a click of the mouse. Pivot tables enable data analysis in large quantities in a single move.
Other benefits of pivot tables include quick reports and pattern recognition for easier decision-making. Business analysts should use pivot tables to make an impact for better management of data.
Leah Wanjiku Gathoni, NearbyMovers
Provide a Brief Roadmap for Easy Navigation
An effective Excel report may have every detail users need but unless you summarize these details and findings, it will be difficult for a user to understand all that you have worked on. In viewing a summary, however, they’ll be able to decipher the information you have included at a glance. To add to the effectiveness of this summary, include hyperlinks that take users to the data chunks they wish to view in detail. This way, you provide them with a data map that not just entails a summary of all that your Excel report includes but also one that they can navigate with ease.
Dillon Hammond, Achieve TMS East