Tricks for Taming the Specter of Month-End Reporting

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In almost every business, the end of the month inevitably brings with it the need to generate and distribute a variety of reports. Many products market themselves saying they make month-end reporting simpler and more efficient. Some even promise to automate the process. Yet somehow, the month-end reporting always ends up in the lap of the office's Excel guru.

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The trick to month-end reporting is making the most out of the capabilities of all software applications used to create the report in order to improve the process and the final presentation. For instance, if your firm or client uses Microsoft's FRx software and Microsoft's Excel, Trish Saunders, a contributing writer to Microsoft® Momentum newsletter, recommends building the report using FRx then refining the presentation in Excel.

She offers these simple instructions for doing this:

  1. In FRx, open a Row Format.
  2. Select Add Rows from Chart of Accounts from the Edit menu. The task pane opens.
  3. Enter or select the account numbers to be included in the report. FRx will add accounts and account descriptions from your Solomon GL system.
  4. Copy and paste the report data into an empty Excel worksheet.
  5. Use Excel's Spellcheck feature to verify that all words are spelled correctly.
  6. Adjust the format and capitalization of the report text using Excel's formatting features.
  7. Copy and paste the data back into FRx to print and save your report.

Although it is often easier to format information using Excel, information can be graphically divided using either Excel or FRX. According to Alan R. Earls, another contributing writer to Momentum, users can create a solid horizontal line crossing a report in FRx by:

  1. Selecting the format code: LNE.
  2. Entering the type of line to be used in the description column (TYPE=1 is a thin line; TYPE=2 is a thick line; TYPE=3 is a dotted line; TYPE=4 is two thick lines followed by a thin line; and TYPE=5 is two thin lines followed by a thick line).
  3. Selecting the font and color to be used.

Excel allows horizontal and vertical divisions of information use shaded rows and columns using Conditional Formatting. The Journal of Accountancy offers this technique for shading alternate columns:

  1. Highlight the area you want the formatting to apply to.
  2. Select Conditional Formatting from the drop-down Format menu. The Conditional Formatting pane for Condition 1 displays.
  3. Select Formula is from the drop-down list in the first field.
  4. Enter the formula =mod(row(),2)=1.Shading will begin with the first row. (To begin shading with the second row use the formula =mod(row(),2)=0.)
  5. Click the Format button on the Conditinoal Formatting pane to change the font, color, border and pattern to be used in the shaded regions.
  6. Click OK to apply the shading to the spreadsheet.

These are just a few of the ways you can defeat the specter of end-of-month reporting and even turn your reports into more readable, and therefore more usable tools for everyone.

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