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Financial Model Formatting - 3 Core Best Practices

2 minute read | Dec 3, 2021

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Here are three core formatting best practices you can apply for financial models and data analyses in Excel and Google Sheets.

Formatting cheat sheet with examples (free download)

1. Color Coding Cells

  • Black = formula, calculations and links to other cells
  • Blue = hard coded input cells and historical data
  • Blue with yellow background = key input assumptions
  • Green = link to other spreadsheets in the same file

Example - Big Tech Company Metrics COLORCODE

2. Financial Tables

  • FY20XX = Use financial year end for your column headers, include the year end and metric in the table header
  • Revenue = bold important headline metrics (Revenue, EBITDA, EBIT, NPAT)
  • Cost of Revenue = indent sub metrics used to calculate headline metrics (e.g. COGS)
  • Financial formatting = use brackets for negative values and avoid more than 1 dp
  • Left to right = older to newer FY dates ordered left to right

Example - Alphabet Income Statement TABLE

3. Key Metrics

  • FY20XX = Align your key metrics under the same columns as the financial table
  • Revenue growth yoy = italic text for key metrics
  • 23% = italic text including the unit metric (e.g. %, x)
  • Grey = grey out cells if computed metric not able to be calculated

Example - Alphabet Income Statement Key Metrics METRIC

Formatting cheat sheet with examples (free download)

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