Did you know that in financial modelling it’s surprisingly easy to style an Excel template that looks professional and, well, just plain reassuring? You too can make your Excel spreadsheets look they’ve been produced by your average investment bank. The key is having a few style rules that are consistently applied across an Excel template. The good news is that to create the best-ever awesomely-beautiful financial modelling templates you probably only need to apply a handful of simple style rules.

An Excel template before styling

Here’s an example template profit and loss from an Excel financial model with no styling applied:

Unformatted Excel template

The style rules

Next in this tab we’ve made a record of the style rules we’re going to apply. None of the rules above are particularly complicated but, applied consistently, these simple styles are going to make our Excel model look far more professional.

Styling an Excel financial modelling template

Notice there’s only a handful of styles being used to make our template look great:

  • There’s a style for heading 1 (white font on blue fill) and heading 2;
  • Category lists start with the category name, which is bolded;
  • Category list items are indented;
  • Sub totals and totals are bold and have a regular border above them;
  • Inputs are shaded with a different fill colour;
  • Percentages use a smaller font size and are italicised;
  • A table is surrounded by a thick box border.

Here’s an idea. When you’re working with your own Excel template you could add a similar tab that contains the style rules you’re using. That record is going to help anyone who picks up your spreadsheet and starts working with it. Adding a tab with style rules is going to help make sure the rules will be consistently applied.

The impact of applying the style rules to the template

It’s super-easy to take the style rules that have been stored in the Excel template and apply them to the un-formatted example financial model. You just have to copy and past the correct formats across. You could use your Excel keyboard shortcuts (“Ctrl C” followed by “Ctrl alt V” and then “T” for formats). Alternatively you could click on the format painter and use that (did you know that if you double click your format painter it will ‘remember’ the last format you used until you click on the painter again?).

Excel's format painter

Below you can see the impact of applying a simple set of rules:

Excel template

Suddenly our template has gone from dull to great-looking and professionally produced. We haven’t used too many formats. We’ve used a simple set and applied them consistently and straight away the Excel template is awash with the perfume of assurance, stability and professionalism – just like the best-ever Excel model produced by your average investment banker. So there’s absolutely fabulous news here: you too can style your Excel worksheets like a boss and create beautiful Excel modelling templates!

Download the Excel template

You can download the example we have used right here: Excel template.

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