Getting Cozy at Home...with Excel

By Elizabeth Robie Grab a warm blanket and a seat by the fire. Let’s get cozy with Excel.

Without a doubt, Excel is one of the most widely-used business applications in the world. From number-crunching to database management, Excel leads the industry with its nearly limitless capabilities. Limitless indeed. While rarely used outside of a work context, Excel also offers a host of opportunities for home and personal use. So stop dismissing Excel as a mere office tool. Invite Excel into your home and take full advantage of the program’s versatile features. Today’s chosen feature is the template.


Templates…perhaps the most prominent yet underutilized feature Excel has to offer. Templates are pre-prepared spread sheets with boilerplate content and formatting that can be modified to suit your own needs. Are you planning a wedding? Or organizing the next March Madness pool? Are you beginning a new workout routine? If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, then there is a template for that!

The How-To:

Templates reside in the New category within the Office Button menu (Excel 2007) or the File tab's Backstage View (Excel 2010). In Excel 2013, you are given template options immediately with the welcome screen.

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The center pane displays thumbnails for each template category. The ‘Blank workbook’ template is the default template used whenever Excel 2007 or 2010 is launched.

The ‘Sample templates’ thumbnail contains a handful of templates immediately available without download. Once selected, a preview of the template is shown in the rightmost pane. Click the Create button once you find the template you want.

If you have Internet access, you can easily view and download any of the templates offered by Microsoft by browsing the template categories or by using the search pane within the Templates section. Select the thumbnail for the template you want to download and click the Download button.

Featured Templates:

Budgeting a wedding or a home remodel? Use an Excel template for guidance and minimize the stress that comes with such large expenditures. Make use of the built-in functions, formulas, and suggested expense categories.

Many of these templates (such as the Wedding Budget below) feature charming graphics, making the dent in your bank account a little less painful. If you’re going to spend a lot of money, you might as well do it in style!

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Track your Loans

You may regret lending that money to your best friend in a bind. Want that borrowed money back? Use the loan amortization template to design a repayment plan (and make some money while you’re at it!). If you’re on the other side of the exchange, use the template to understand the depth of your debt and plan accordingly.

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Log your Fitness

Keep yourself honest with your new workout regimen using the Fitness Training Program template. You can log exercise type, duration, and body stats to reap the rewards of an Adonis (or Adonia) physique.

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Track March Madness

And last but not least, if you’re a basketball enthusiast like I am, you’ll love the NCAA tournament bracket with tracker template. The file offers a one-two punch: use the bracket to follow the tournament on your own, and/or use the tracker spreadsheet to help you organize the best March Madness pool in town.

Enter the final result for each match-up in the bracket and the tracker will automatically update and attribute points to each entrant. The tracker tabulates points for each round and shows who is currently leading until a champion is crowned.

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Excel also offers fantasy football scorecards and other templates for avid sports fans. Check them out!

Up Next:

Comment below if you have a favorite template to share and stay tuned for the next chapter in this Getting Cozy with Excel series: Goal Seek.


Lissy RobieA former college track star (boasting a sub 5 minute mile) and high school science teacher, Elizabeth Robie is passionate about education and technology. In her spare time, she enjoys running, playing with her dog Seamus, and watching Duke basketball religiously. At Learn iT! Elizabeth teaches the entire MS Office Suite.