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How to Use MS Excel to Make Trackers

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you’re trying to watch your savings for an upcoming cruise grow, take notes on the calories consumed each day or record the miles you’ve run per week, you can use Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program included with your Microsoft Office installation. Excel is a simple, basic tracking program that you can configure to help you quickly and easily view notes and numbers, letting you make plans and keep track of your progress. With a few simple clicks, you can make trackers in Excel for a variety of daily items.

Open Excel, click on the “File” menu, and then select “New.” A blank spreadsheet appears in your workspace. Click on “File” again, and choose “Save As.” Name the file, such as “Cruise 2010,” “MarathonMiles” or “CaloriesConsumed,” and click on the “Save” button.

Click your cursor on column B, and then type the word “Monday.” Repeat for the next six columns to add the other days of the week. Click your cursor on the number “1,” the first cell in the row you’ve been typing in, to highlight it. Right-click on the cell, and select “Format Cells.” Click on the “Patterns” tab, and click a coloured box; this colours in the cells in that top row to distinguish them from the rest of your tracker.

Click on the “Font” tab, and then choose a font. Choose “Bold” from the “Font style” menu and a “Size” of “14.” Click on the “OK” button. This makes the entire row stand out.

Right-click on the “A” column header, so the column is highlighted, and then repeat the changes you just performed with the same pattern and font styles and sizes.

Click on row 3 of column A (leave a blank row between the header row and the information rows for visibility), and type the first topic to track, such as “Hardware Store.” Click on row 4 of column A, and then type a similar topic, such as “Grocery Store.” Add more rows, with as many headers as required.

Fill in your tracker information for each of the cells (a cell is the individual box on the spreadsheet).

Click on the “Chart Wizard,” which looks like a small bar chart, at the top of the toolbar (this step is optional). Click through the options to create a visual representation of your tracker, such as a pie chart or line graph.

Resave your file to update the information.

Tip

Use different column and row headers to fit your spreadsheet requirements. For example, if you’re monitoring your food pyramid intake, column headers may be along the lines of "Dairy," "Meat," "Starch" and "Fats." If you’re tracking exercise, try headers like "Weights," "Cardio," "Stretching" and "Classes." You can also vary the column headers to track on a monthly or yearly basis.

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About the Author

Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.