Automating Excel Spreadsheet Report Titles

By David H. Ringstrom, CPA

Many users tire of retyping report titles such as "For the Period Ended October 31, 2012" month after month. Further, if you're like me, sometimes printing the report reminds you that the title needs updating. I'll explain a couple of techniques you can use to simplify, and even automate, such date-based report titles.
 
Let's first assume that each month you'll enter a date, such as 10/31/12, into cell A1. We can transform this into "For the Period Ended October 31, 2012" with a simple formatting trick. In Excel 2007 and later, click the Format Cells: Number button on the Home tab, as shown in Figure 1. This displays the Format Cells dialog box shown in Figure 2. (In Excel 2003 and earlier, choose Format, and then Cells.)
 
Figure 1: The Format Cells: Number button displays the Format Cells dialog box.
 
Within the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box, choose Custom, and then enter the following text in the Type field:
 
"For the Period Ended" mmmm d, yyyy
 
Figure 2: A custom number format can transform a date like 10/31/12 into a report title.
 
Be sure to place double quotes before For, after Ended, and include a space before mmmm. The four m's within the format signify that we wish to convert a numeric month to its equivalent month name. The d displays the day portion, the date that we input in cell A1, and yyyy presents a four digit year. Although I could use mmmm d, yyyy on its own as a custom format to spell a date out in long form, in this case, I enclosed additional text in quotes. Going forward, you can simply type a new date in mm/dd/yy format and the title will update automatically.
 
Figure 3: The report date can be updated by typing a new date in cell A1 in mm/dd/yy format.
 
Assuming that your report dates are always the last date of the previous month, you can completely automate your report title with a simple formula. To do so, we'll use the DATE function, along with the YEAR, MONTH, and NOW functions.
 
The DATE function has three inputs: year, month, and day. The YEAR and MONTH functions each accept a date as their only reference. The NOW function returns today's date, and so use these functions together as shown in Figure 4:
 
=DATE(YEAR(NOW()),MONTH(NOW()),0)
 
To break the formula down, I placed the NOW() function inside the YEAR and MONTH functions, respectively. This gives me the year and month for today's date. Although I could use Excel's DAY function to extract the day portion of a date, in this case, I used a zero instead. Doing so instructs Excel to return the last day of the preceding month. Couple this formula with the aforementioned custom number format, and you'll never need to update that report title again.
 
Figure 4: The combination of the DATE function and a custom number format automates your report title.
 
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
 
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at david@acctadv.com or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.

 

You may like these other stories...

Accountants who specialize in forensic and valuation services point to electronic data analysis, or big data, as the most pressing issue they’ll face in the coming months, according to results of a new survey released...
As complex as federal tax can get, at least you're only dealing with one agency: the IRS. But when you get into state and local sales tax, you're coordinating hundreds of jurisdictions that are constantly changing....
All that was needed on Tuesday was a voice vote for the House of Representatives to pass a bill that would prevent state and local governments from taxing access to the Internet.Now the ball is in the Senate’s court....

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 23
We can’t deny a great divide exists between the expectations and workplace needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. To create thriving organizational performance, we need to shift the way in which we groom future leaders.
Jul 24
In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the integrity of your spreadsheets, but reduce maintenance as well.
Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.