Using Excel Templates – Why Reinvent the Wheel?



Excel Templates are often created and used by people by people that constantly need data in a certain format. Most likely your one of the people that user Microsoft’s Excel (and, because it’s become the number one spreadsheet program in the world since its original release in 1985, you probably are), you know that it can be very helpful in a number of ways, particularly for small businesses. You have likely created a number of spreadsheets that you re-use, over and over. Well, if so, then you’ve already created your own templates, in a way, since all a template really is, is a form that can be re-used.

But, did you know that you can actually create what the program officially calls “a template”, and that many people, having created such template files, have made them available online for free download? It’s true! If you aren’t particularly good at creating a new spreadsheet and making it work (and many people aren’t), why waste time trying, when you can find and download a ready-made template and just plug in your own data?

Excel templates with preset formats or formulas can help make the most mundane tasks flow more quickly, and the most complicated tasks less cumbersome and time-consuming. For many small businesses, a good cash flow projection template is a good place to start. You enter financial information about your business, such as credit and payment terms and other basic data, and the spreadsheet performs the necessary calculations and provides you with an estimated projection. As an added benefit, you can play “what if” with this business tool by changing your assumptions to see a new forecast (just remember to save your file before you change assumptions, so you don’t lose your work). In addition, there are Excel templates available for financial planning, Forex trading, profit and loss tracking, and many other functions.

When you first open Excel, a column comes up on the right side of your screen (unless you’ve turned it off), which says “New Workbook” at the top. About halfway down that column, it says “New from Template” and gives you the choice of selecting “General Templates”, “Templates on My Websites”, and “Templates on Microsoft.com” – that’s right, Microsoft itself provides Excel templates, free for download, and adds to the list from time to time.

Unfortunately, many Excel templates offered online for free are simple spreadsheets without complex calculations, which can easily be created on your own without going to the trouble of finding and downloading them. However, there are a few excellent template tools available for free online, if you know where to look. For example, www.jaxworks.com provides several free templates (as well as an Excel tutorial) that are quite good, as does Corporate Training Partners (http://www.cortrapar.com/ExcelTemplates.htm).

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