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Using AutoFormat

Like the Word feature of the same name, Excel's AutoFormat promises to turn your worksheet into a work of art, instantly and effortlessly. When you apply AutoFormatting to simple worksheet ranges with easily identifiable headings, totals, and other elements, the feature works pretty much as advertised. In fact, the AutoFormat options available with PivotTables are exceptionally useful because the format of a PivotTable is always the same. For more complex worksheets, however, it's likely that you'll need to clean up after AutoFormat. In general, we recommend trying the AutoFormat options; you can always undo the results if you don't like them, and in many cases the formatting gives you a good start.

When you use AutoFormat and other table-based options (such as sorting a list), Excel tries to apply your instructions to the current selection. If you don't make a selection, Excel uses the current region, which is the block of filled-in cells that extends in all directions from the insertion point to the next empty row or column or the edge of the worksheet. For that reason, when you design a worksheet, you should always include at least one blank row and column to mark the border of every separate data entry block.


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