5 New and Creative Ways To Utilize Excel

Excel may not always be the most exciting program to utilize at home or at the office, but it’s an essential one that keeps over millions of users organized and able to do their tasks with relative ease.

Whether you are relatively new to the world of Excel or you’ve been using it on a daily basis for over a decade, learning how to be creative and have a little fun will keep things a little more exciting and even improve your skills.

While many fun and creative projects in Excel are designed for school-aged users, who says that kids are the only ones who can have the fun?

Although we can’t begin to explain (or even understand) the creative process of Tatsuo Horiuchi’s Excel masterpieces, here are five things to try out the next time you use Excel (but you might want to make sure you try it out on your break if you’re at work).

Create Patterns For Your Hobbies

create hobby lists
Image via Tech Advisor

Do you enjoy quilting or knitting? Have you been thinking about creating a mosaic out of tile for your outdoor patio? While the design might be a little different, depending on what your pattern or project is, an Excel spreadsheet can make the whole process easier.

While the steps for this design chart are geared towards knitters who come up with their own patterns, you could use it for various projects that require making a small scale pattern or just staying organized.

The steps are simple and are as follows:

  • Open your workbook and create a copy of the “master” tab
  • Continue by right-clicking on the tab and select “move or copy” on the menu
  • The next step is to “make a copy” and then click Ok

After you add letters, colors, and symbols to the cells (to represent each stitch/element of the pattern), save the file. Like other spreadsheets, you can edit easily until you create the perfect design.

Make A Calendar

These days there are plenty of programs and templates that allow you to customize and print off a calendar, but if you don’t know how to make a calendar using Excel now is the time to learn. Despite living in a world where you can sync calendars with someone else, by just using your phones, a calendar can still come in handy.

Follow these steps to make a calendar that you can use every month and edit as needed.

Step 1

Using the merge-and-fit feature and setting the width of your columns at the same time, you will create the weekday header and a title for each month. You can enter the weekdays by entering in one day, such as Sunday, and then drag the cell to the right using the bottom right corner.

Tip: For an easy-to-read text, make the days of the week a 12-point font and bold. If your weekdays extend beyond the size of the column all you need to set the width to 15 or 20 (Home to Cells to Format to Column Width).

Step 2

After your weekday headers are set up, you can add the month to the top of the spreadsheet. Many people spend a lot of unnecessary time manually entering information into Excel. Since Excel is all about being efficient, you can use the formula “=TODAY()“, this tells Excel to use the current date.

Step 3

The next step is to format the title with a bold font of 20 or 22 and then (Home to Format to Format Cells to Date and then select the correct month title).

If your spreadsheet looks unbalanced, you can easily fix the problem by highlighting all the cells above the weekday header and use your Merge & Center button; everything should look centered now.

Step 4

Now that you have your weekday and month headers taken care of you can make the calendar template. Use the Merge & Center feature again but use some extra empty cells (about five or six) to create a large cell for a calendar square.

When your large cell is highlighted, you’ll copy and paste into the other days. This step duplicates a box for every day of the week, and the result ends up looking like a rough draft of a calendar grid.

Step 5

Ready to add grid lines? Highlight the entire calendar, click on the grid tool in your home tab and then select “All Borders,” this should create a more polished look. Now you can manually add dates, notes, and other information. Your calendar is ready to share or print.

Create Your Own Crossword Puzzle

creating a crossword puzzle on excel
Image via YouTube

How many times have you done the daily crossword puzzle and thought you could easily make on yourself? Whether you want to make a special crossword puzzle for your kids or you just want to be like your crossword creator idol, Will Shortz, you can create a puzzle using Excel.

Before you decide to create a puzzle in Excel, it’s best to create one on paper just to get a general idea of what you want.

Step 1

After you start a new document in Excel, select a number of rows to equal one more than the vertical size of your crossword grid. If your grid is 31 spaces, select 32 rows in Excel.

Step 2

Right-click in A1, then select Row Height. You will enter 20 and then Ok. Follow the first step for the horizontal size of your puzzle. Then right click A1, Column Width, and enter 2.5, then Ok.

Step 3

Starting at B2, select the grid area and then click on the Borders button (which is in the Font box). Select All Borders.

Step 4

Type in your answers to the puzzles and make sure that you only use one letter per cell. Make sure the letters match up, as you sketched on your paper draft.

Step 5

Holding down the Control key, click each of the empty cells. Then click on Fill Color button, choose Black, Text 1.

Step 6

After you fill in all the empty cells, select the grid and delete all of the answers you typed in. Using a small font, type the clue number in the first cell of each answer space. Next, you can type your clues (one per cell) to the right of your grid.

Create A Sudoku Puzzle

There are easily just as many Sudoku puzzle fans than there are crossword puzzle fanatics, and there are probably many who love both. If you love Sudoku, but hate when a co-worker steals that section of the daily paper first, you can create your own to print out for the office (or keep for yourself).

You can take the easy route and download a program specifically for Excel, or you can watch some tutorial videos to learn how to create your own puzzles. Either way, it’s a fun way to use Excel in your downtime.

Make Your Own Trivia

utilizing excel for trivia
Image via Western Sydney University

Need to help your kids with their homework and want to make it more interesting or are planning a DIY Trivia Night with some friends? Use your Excel spreadsheet to create your own trivia game. Follow these steps to become the next Trivia Master:

Step 1

Open a new worksheet, naming one sheet, Quiz and the other, Answers.

Step 2

In B1 of your Quiz sheet, type the number of questions you want and in B2, title it Your Score. In Row 4, create Question, Answer, and Result (or something along those lines).

Step 3 

In Column A, type the questions (one per cell) then type the correct answers in the corresponding cells on the Answers worksheet. If you need to, expand column A, so it’s easier to read the trivia questions.

Step 4

To create a formula to check the answers, type =IF(B5””,IF(B5=Answers!A5,”Correct”, “Incorrect”),””) into cell C5. This formula also works for scorekeeping. 

In the section, Number of Questions, use the following formula:


In the section for the score, use this formula:


Step 5

After you’re done entering the formulas, you can format your worksheet by selecting cells A4 to column C and format as a table. To get rid of any unwanted table features, go to the Design Tab and then to Convert to Range.

To keep your answers secure, you can go to column B and right click on Format Cells and then Protection Tab. You can either choose to unlock for editing or lock to keep your answers secure.

For additional tips on creating a trivia game on excel, visit this link.

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