Add Pizzazz Using Background Images in Excel®

By: Elaine Landau

If you have basic computer education, you may have added to your knowledge with online courses. There are advanced tutorials in Word and PowerPoint® that could make your life at the keyboard much easier. If you work a lot with spreadsheets and worksheets, advanced Excel training may prove helpful. Now, with all this computer help, you can feel comfortable getting a little creative, maybe even a little wild, when working on important presentations.

Spreadsheets are valuable tools. If you are not a mathematics wiz, they can indeed be a lifesaver. One useful feature is the calculation of figures, using arithmetic functions. In Microsoft® Excel, a formula bar is used for typing formulas. Any formula preceded by an equal sign can be inserted into this bar or in a specific cell.

If you are looking for more than just time saving ideas or convenient options and are striving to be a little more creative, consider putting a little zip into your spreadsheets and some oomph in your worksheets. Adding more numbers, cells, or columns could add to your "yawn factor" so why not create a background that will make your stats sizzle?

When creating web pages, designers understand that white space can be quite effective in making the viewer's eye focus on a particular image. If you are presenting a lot of statistics, numbers, and symbols, replacing solid white with interesting backgrounds might be a very smart option. You can create an image-building background for your Excel spreadsheets and worksheets.

Any Excel worksheet can have an image as a background. Each sheet of your workbook can have a different image, adding interest and color to any presentation. For a cleaner look, you should consider removing grid lines when using an image for your background.

Now, before you become the Steven Spielberg of backgrounds, make sure that an image background will enhance your presentation, not confuse or clutter it. Creativity is applauded only when it improves and clarifies your message. So, after you have determined which worksheets will benefit from background enhancement, really pay attention to your image selection. If you want humor, be sure the humor is in good taste and won't offend anyone. If you want to add drama, try to avoid disturbing, violent, or gory images. It may work for you, but think of your audience. Your taste may not be their taste at all. Consider your audience's background and culture. If you are not politically correct, your background image could bury your presentation.

How do you get started?

After determining which spreadsheets/worksheets would benefit from an image background, you...


  1. Open the Format menu.


  2. Select Sheet At that point you should notice a pop-up side menu.


  3. Select Background from this smaller, pop-up menu.


  4. A new pop-up menu will appear. That will allow you to search your hard drive for the image you would like for a background.


  5. Find the image you want and click on Open.


You now have a background image for one or all of your worksheets. If you want to change the image background for each sheet, simply follow these steps. If for any reason the image you choose is too small, tiles will fill in unwanted white space.

If you ever change your mind about the image background that you are using, you can always undo your work. How?

  1. Make sure the worksheet you want to revise is active.


  2. Open the Format menu.


  3. Select Sheet.


  4. A small pop-up menu will appear. When it does, click on Delete Background.


It seems like such an obvious idea, but backgrounds have been ignored for a long time. They are rarely considered when an employee is creating spreadsheets or worksheets for presentations. Yet, after trying it, you may discover that by adding a good background to your data, your audience just might respond with a little more enthusiasm.

Try it. See what happens.
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