Excel Stylesheets: Cell Styles and Smart Art, Drawing, Graphics, Picture and Chart Tools

You may have used Excel for years without delving into Styles (or stylesheets), but they can make work easier and faster—and more visually appealing. In this feature, we’re going to go over Cell Styles, and Smart Art, Drawing, Graphics, Picture, and Chart Tools. (We’re skipping 3D Model Tools for now because they don’t have Styles.)

Cell Styles

If you type a sentence in Excel, most of us just format the sentence using the features in the Font, Alignment, or Number groups, which include additional features such as colors, borders, orientation, and more. Or we might right-click for the popup/context menu and choose the features from there.

02 sample text stylesheet in excel JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

However, you can also select the group called Styles > Cell Styles, and choose preset styles with custom fonts, colors, and attributes, as well as borders, shading, and paragraph levels such as Heading 1, Heading 2, Title, and more. Play around to learn more about your choices. 

The best way to explain how Graphic Styles work in Excel is to just create some.

Smart Art Tools & Styles

Smart Art Graphics are Excel’s premade business graphics. A partial list of the graphics includes:

  • Block Lists
  • Process Arrows and Diagrams
  • Organizational Charts
  • Radial Cycles
  • Segmented Pyramids
  • Picture Grids
  • Image Captions
  • Interconnected Rings
  • …and 200 plus more.

1. Open Excel. From the Insert tab > Illustrations group, click the Smart Art Graphic icon (between Shapes and Store on the Ribbon menu).

2. Browse through the list and select a Smart Art Graphic for this exercise. We chose Process > Step Down Process, then clicked OK.

03 select a smart art graphic JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

3. Excel drops the graphic in the center of the page showing the selection handles/circles, which means the graphic is active. When a graphic is active, Excel displays a new tab on the Ribbon menu called [something] Tools > Design/Format where the “something” is determined by the selected graphic, such as Smart Art Tools, Drawing Tools, Chart Tools, Graphics Tools, and Picture Tools. If you de-select (or click outside) the graphic, these menu items disappear.


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