Monday, January 18, 2016

How to Format Excel for Printing

So you've been learning how to use Excel. That's awesome! There are so many things that are much easier to do in a spreadsheet rather than writing them down or calculating by hand.

But sometimes, you do want to print that spreadsheet and file it somewhere or maybe hang it on the fridge. And that requires knowing the basics of Page Setup and Printing.

There are four main places where you can edit what will display when you print. While I walk through these in a certain order, you can adjust them in any order and it should work just the same.

Check out this video for a full walk-through where I format my Link Party Tracking Sheet.



Print and Print Preview



Check the Print Preview. You can do this by clicking File -> Print from the top left corner, or I have Print Preview in my Quick Access Toolbar.

Take note of what the page looks like. Does everything fit? Are you missing any of your data? Are the gridlines showing (or not)? You can adjust all of these things and more before you print.

The following are things you can change in the Print Preview page:
  1. Print Active Sheets - You can tell Excel to print the Worksheet you currently have open, all the sheets in your file, or just the part of your sheet you have highlighted. Your choice!
  2. Pages - If your spreadsheet is huge, you can tell Excel to only print a few of the pages. Just give the page range. Be sure to check to the right at the preview to make sure you get the right ones.
  3. Collated - If you're printing multiple copies, you can decide what order you want the copies to print.
  4. Orientation - Choose which direction the paper goes, Portrait or Landscape.
  5. Page Size - If you're printing on something other than 8.5" x 11", you can change that here.
  6. Margins - Excel with automatically print with 0.7" margins unless you tell it otherwise.
  7. Scaling - This can be a very handy tool. If you know you want your spreadsheet to print all on one page, or have all the columns on one page but let the rows continue, you can change that here. Pay attention to the preview! Sometimes scaling really shrinks your sheet or creates strange white space. Make sure it looks right before printing.

Page Layout



Okay, so you went through all the Print Preview options, but there are still things you want to change. Now what? Your next stop is Page Layout. Click the arrow at the top left to return to your file and then select Page Layout in your Ribbon. There are too many options to really go into detail, but here are the highlights of this section.
  1. Colors and Themes - Excel (and Microsoft) come with an automatic color scheme. This includes all the font and highlighting colors. But you can change it to any set of colors you want.
  2. Print Area - You can select any section of your spreadsheet and have only that selection print.
  3. Breaks - Insert and remove page breaks in your file. Note that the break will appear based on what cell you currently have selected. Pay attention to the blue dotted lines that display in the spreadsheet.
  4. Background - add a picture to the background of your file
  5. Gridlines - Choose to show the lines dividing cells when you print
  6. Headings - Choose to show the column and row headings when you print.

Page Setup




Within Page Layout, there are a couple more detailed menus that you can access. Simply click the small arrow near where it says Page Setup. A dialogue window will open.

  1. Print Area - You can select any section of your spreadsheet and have only that selection print.
  2. Rows to repeat at top - Select as many rows as you want to appear at the top of every page you print.
  3. Columns to repeat at left - Select as many columns as you want to appear at the left of every page you print.
  4. Print
    1. Gridlines - Show the gridlines of each cell when you print
    2. Black and white - Only print black and white, no color
    3. Draft quality - Decreases the print resolution to print faster
    4. Row and column headings - will display the row and column labels on each page
    5. Comments - gives you the option to display comments inserted in the spreadsheet
    6. Cell errors as - allows you to show errors as blanks, dashes, or N/A's
  5. Page order - Changes the order in which the pages print

Page Break Preview

The last place I like to go when preparing my file to print is the Page Break Preview. Click on the icon at the bottom right of the spreadsheet. This will display all the page numbers and page breaks. To adjust, simply click and drag the blue lines marking the page breaks.

You should now be all set! Double check the Print Preview (or Page Layout View) to make sure what you wanted is coming out correctly. Sometimes you have to rescale or double check your page breaks, but it should come out just how you want it.

As with anything, there are multiple ways to do things in Excel. I've just shown you my favorite ways to format my files to print. Please let me know if you need extra help or have questions. Have fun!

I like to join these Link Parties.

Twix Brownie Trifle

I love Twix. I think I could say with confidence that they are my favorite candy bars. What's not to like? Crunchy cookie, chewy caramel, smooth chocolate. Pure goodness.

With friends coming for dessert, I decided to make use of my favorite candy in a rich, chocolatey trifle.


One of the best things about this recipe is that, even though there are several parts, they are each incredibly easy.

Start by baking your brownies. I like the Ghirardelli packets from Costco. They make a slightly smaller batch than most boxes.


I decided it was high time I teach my toddler about licking the bowl. Brownie batter with breakfast. I'm not spoiling him, am I?


Mmm, there isn't much better than warm brownies fresh from the oven. Sadly, this time, you need to let them cool completely before cutting into one inch squares.


Next, prep your Twix bars. I bought a bag of the minis since they were a good price. I'd recommend two regular Twix bars per serving. I put mine in the food processor, but I think that made the pieces too small. Next time I'll just chop them with a sharp knife.



Finally, you need to make the pudding. One of the small boxes of chocolate pudding is plenty, plus half a tub of cool whip. Beat the milk and pudding, then add the cool whip. You can put in the fridge until ready to assemble the trifle.


Finally, just layer all the pieces: brownie, Twix, pudding, repeat. I did three layers in these mason jars, and it proved to be plenty! Next time I might use half pint jars instead. Either way, it was delicious!


Twix Brownie Trifle


Makes: 6 pint size servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes (for each layer plus assembly)
Cook Time: 45 minutes (for brownies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box brownie mix plus required ingredients

  • 1 36 oz bag mini Twix bars or 6 regular Twix packages

  • 1 3.4 oz chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 4 oz whipped topping

Directions:

  1. Mix and bake brownies according to directions. Allow to cool completely and cut into 1 inch squares.
  2. Roughly chop Twix bars and set aside.
  3. Beat pudding mix and milk about 2 minutes. Add in whipped topping and mix to combine.
  4. In pint mason jars or trifle dish, layer brownies, Twix, and pudding. Repeat twice for three layers. Can top with remaining chopped Twix.
  5. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

I'll be joining these link parties: Link Party List

Friday, January 15, 2016

Home Reorganization Stage 1.1 - Put Floorboards in the Attic

I love my house. I lived in apartments for 7 years after graduating college, and so often during those years, friends tried to convince me to buy a house; that it was a good investment. But it never felt right to do so on my own. Within a month of marrying my husband, I got the house itch. We started looking for a house after three months and moved in six months later.

Me and Brian on the day we closed!

There is something special about loving the place you live. Even without fancy furniture, wall hangings, and DIY decorations, it will feel like home. My passion is Excel spreadsheets, not decorating vases or scouring thrift stores or building by hand wood frames for the whole house. :) Though I do get inspired every time I check a link party or peruse my mom's blog (http://vintagechateau.blogspot.com/). So even though my house doesn't have all the special touches some of you have, I smile every time I drive down the street and return to my home.

But just because I don't feel like the expert in interior design, I certainly like it! I'm learning to not be afraid of projects, and so I've taken on a giant one.

Right now, we have four main rooms on the first floor: living room, kitchen, dining room, and library. We call it the library because it has a whole wall of built in shelves. It gives it a very classy look (and a great place for all my fantasy novels!).

Upstairs we have four bedrooms: the master bedroom, guest room, our son's room, and the office. The office is the biggest bedroom after ours, and for good reason. When my husband received his Master's degree, his big present that he wanted was a large L-shaped desk (and three giant monitors to put on it).

I mean, really, look at this thing!

Without getting too personal, let me just say that my husband and I are not planning for our son to be an only child. And while we could have the kids share a bedroom, it seems a little silly when we have four of them in the house.

And so, here is the Master Plan:

Stage 1: Clean out the Basement and turn it into a TV/Play Room
Stage 2: Convert the Library into the Office
Stage 3: Move Jeffrey (age 1) into the old office
Stage 4: Redecorate Jeffrey's room into a fresh Nursery (for when the time comes)

This is, obviously, a huge undertaking, and one that will take months. As I discovered instantly, each step will consist of several parts. So here I'm going to show you how we did Stage 1.1 - Floorboards in the Attic.



I don't know when I first got the idea, but I suddenly knew that in cleaning up my Christmas decorations, I did not want to put them back in the basement.  I'm almost ashamed to show you this, but you need to understand what I was starting with. This was my basement before this project.



Food storage all on the floor, piles of unused baby gear, and cabinets left over from our kitchen remodel. Ack!

I wanted to put it all (minus the food storage) in the attic. But I had a problem: we had zero flooring in the attic.

I asked Brian if we could put in floorboards. He said sure. Next thing I knew we were measuring the space, dragging Jeffrey to Home Depot, and cutting and hauling wood. While there were a few bumps, it was a resounding success!

We knew that boards would be 4' x 8', and we had a couple of rules: the edge of the boards needed to be on a beam, and we needed to stagger the boards so the seams were not all the same. Here is the diagram we put together (can you tell my husband is a perfectionist and I'm a little OCD?).



Of course, we were pretty silly and tried to take a full 4' x 8' up first. Getting it in the front door, up stairs, and around the corner was easy. Trying to get it up the ladder? Not so much. The wall took a little beating.

Oops.


Also, it's a miracle Jeffrey napped through this. His bedroom door is 6 inches away from these marks.

So after remeasuring, we proceeded to cutting. Brian has spent a lot of time recently building a workbench in the garage, and even though it's not 100% done, we were able to make good use of it and the tools he got for Christmas!


Don't you love how we used the old wine rack for a stand?

We got almost all the cutting done while Jeffrey napped. And once he woke up, we handed him my bike helmet which kept him remarkably distracted!


As soon as he was asleep that evening, we went about moving the boards. The biggest was now 4' x 6.5', and while it took some finagling, we were able to get it up to the attic. Yay! A lot more up and down stairs and ladders, one foot through the ceiling (another oops) and we arranged all the boards to a perfect fit!

Guess we have to fix the office ceiling now.

Brian then screwed them all down, and I spent the next week hauling boxes, gear, and any other odds and ends from the basement up two flights of stairs and a ladder. So worth it.



This is what my attic and basement look like now.



The old cabinets are getting used or given away, and then I'll have room for a couch, rug, TV, and whatever else I decide will go down here. I'm so excited!

Coming soon: Step 1.2 - Repaint old cabinet and create "Mud Room" by the basement door.

I like to join these link parties: Link Party List


Friday, January 1, 2016

Keep Track of Your Link Parties

Ah, Link Parties. So much fun, such a good way to promote yourself, but so much work!



Are you new to blog parties? They are a great way to connect with other bloggers. When a website hosts a party, they allow you to add a link to your own blog post, which will then add a thumbnail photo and link back to your blog. Then everyone who comes to the party will see your thumbnail and can go straight to your blog post. It's like Pinterest but just for bloggers trying to make connections.

I love how many new ideas I've found from scrolling through the link party thumbnails. Also, a lot of the party hosts will feature their favorites from the week before. I'm amazed at the creativity and hard work that so many people put into their blogs.

Make sure you check the rules, since each party has their own set of rules. And I've always felt like there were some link party rules that everyone seems to know but never talks about. For more on that, check my post on Unwritten Link Party Rules, which also has a list of my personal favorite parties.

I've been blogging for just over a month, and already I know how difficult it is to find good parties, link up to them, and keep track of what you posted where!

After linking up just a couple of posts, I knew I needed something to help organize my posts and link parties. And what else would I do except build a spreadsheet?!

My Tracking Sheet

I built my tracking sheet with simplicity in mind. I wanted to just be able to click to add a check mark whenever I linked up to a party. I also wanted to be able to easily see when the parties go live, since it is so hard to remember all of them!

You can easily add or delete columns to fit however many blog parties you go to. For other tips and tricks, I recommend watching the video below.

You can download the full file here:

Link Party Tracking Sheet



  1. I recommend listing your posts with the oldest on top, and adding new posts as you publish them. But if you want to have newest on top, that would work fine, just insert new rows as you need them.
  2. I have this filled in with my favorite link parties in order of when they go live (as best I can tell). Some link parties claim to be a Tuesday party, for example, but they go live on Monday evening EST. I find it easier to display based on when I need to link up. Changing and adding new link parties is easy, but make sure to insert new columns within the day you want them.
  3. To add or remove a check, simply click the cell. This uses Visual Basic code, which is pretty advanced if you are new to Excel, so I'm not going to go into it. If you want to see the code, let me know.
  4. Just because I prefer to keep the file saved on my computer and use it there, does not mean you have to! I formatted the file so that you can print it and keep it in a binder or anywhere that works for you. Just be aware that I formatted it to print one day of link parties per page. If you have lots of parties (or maybe you have only a few), then you might want to reformat the page breaks. I also built in about 2000 rows, so if you just click print, you'll get nearly 200 pages! Tell Excel to only print the pages that you need. If you don't know how to do that, check out my post on How to Format Excel for Printing or send me an email!
I hope you find this file as helpful as I do. If you need help with it at all, please send me an email at excelathome.blogspot@gmail.com.

Good luck and have fun partying!

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