Input Data Display Hack for Excel

Getting the format white

When creating data input sheets, it is a good idea to use a table layout. Sometimes they can end up looking a little bit busy, especially if you are repeating entries down rows. To help users focus on what they need to do, you can use a little formatting hack to make the layout look a little less cluttered.

Examine the image below.

The user needs to enter the hours next to the names for each day.

In a data table we need to make sure that each row has an entry in it. The date column however is a little bit busy as it repeats the date on each row. What we can do is change the format of all of the subsequent dates to a white font colour so that one is visible and the other dates are hidden. This makes the input screen less busy – see image below.

The danger here of course is that people will think that there is nothing in the date cells, but that’s just a training issue.

By using the white font colour you maintain the date format in the cell as can be seen here with cell A3 selected.

This technique can be useful when you are repeating the same entry on multiple lines in input screens.

In my next post I will show you how to automate this technique.

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