Let’s take a look. This is a pretty basic table with a simple gray border. Let’s upgrade this design to something with a little more polish. First, let’s remove all borders. For this, we can use the preset in the border menu on the ribbon. Now let’s increase the row height to 30 for all the rows in the table. This will make it easier to use more color without the table feeling too crowded. Next, let’s give the entire table an even shade of gray. We’ll do this by using the fill menu on the ribbon. Now that we have a consistent background color, we can use borders in a clever way. Let’s use a white border between the rows to “knock out” the background color. We need to do this in the Format Cells dialog box. We’ll need to use a heavier line, so let’s choose that first. Now, let’s choose white for the line color. Note that line weights are a lot harder to see now. If you’re going to use white borders, choose the line style before setting the color. We only want the border to appear between the rows, so for that we use the middle horizontal button. With the white border in place, we have cleanly separated rows. And, it’s easy to switch the colors to something a little more interesting. For a final touch, we could add a gradient to the data rows in the table. Variations on this approach can be used to create many interesting designs using the border and fill tools that Excel provides.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.