5 minutes

How to make aesthetically pleasing spreadsheets (easiest method)

Excel is a great tool for storing/editing data, but let’s be real: the interface is very plain and can be counter-intuitive. Here's how you can fix that in a matter of minutes!

Excel design

There are several ways to design your Excel spreadsheets to look prettier, but those options are quite limited and can be time consuming. I'm going to show you a better way.

We'll be using a tool called Polymer Search to transform your boring Excel dataset into a beautiful, interactive aesthetic spreadsheet in 30 seconds! Here's a sneak peak of what it'll look like:

aesthetic spreadsheets

Why make aesthetic spreadsheets?

There’s 3 main important reasons why you want to make your spreadsheets look good:

  1. It minimizes data fatigue
  2. Data presentation purposes
  3. Data analysis purposes

Data fatigue is a common issue for spreadsheet users and even expert data analysts. People who use Polymer Search report less data fatigue and more productivity!

Separating columns by colors and tags also makes data easier to read.

How to make spreadsheets look professional

Here's how to make spreadsheets look professional in a way that's impossible to do on Excel itself:

  1. First you’ll need to sign up to Polymer Search (it’s free).
  2. Next, add your Excel file onto Polymer (you can also connect Google Sheets/Airtable/Google Drive).
  3. Open Polymer app.
  4. Customize the design according to your tastes! (optional)
Add data csv or xls

Since the basic design looks very clean, you won't have to do much customization (if any), but the option is there if you want to go for a certain look or feel.

There are also several in-built tools for data analysis: namely the pivot table feature and auto-explainer feature which uses AI to help you interpret your data. There's also a visualization feature to create bar charts, scatterplots, heatmaps and time series. Feel free to try these out!

Layout customizations

You can customize your layout by pressing this icon:

layout settings

There are 3 layouts to choose from: 

  1. Grid View
  2. Card View
  3. Gallery View

Grid view

aesthetic spreadsheets

Grid view is basically an Excel spreadsheet, but with better design, interactivity and easier navigation.

This is the main layout used for analyzing data. The other 2 layouts don't have the in-built pivot table feature called ‘smart pivot.’

Card view 

Excel design 2

Card view organizes your data into rows. You can customize which tags are showing and can include an image for each row.

Gallery view: Make Excel Look Like an Application

Excel Design 3

Gallery view organizes your data into rows and columns and allows you to include an image for each of them. This essentially turns your Excel spreadsheet into an application. Examples of this:

  1. FlixGem
  2. VR Heaven

This one can be the most beautiful to use, but setting it up can also be the most time consuming. Gallery view is best used when you have image data, but it's possible to use it with no images too. Here's what that'll look like:

spreadsheet gallery view

To add images: you'll need to create a separate column in your Excel file and include a URL link to the image.

Color customizations

The default Polymer Search color scheme already looks 10x better than Excel, but if you want to have your own custom colors, you can do so by going into settings -> advanced.


There you can change:

  • Tag colors
  • Background color
  • Navbar colors
  • Sidebar colors

Also, don't forget the sidebar does exist and is an extremely useful tool for filtering data:

sidebar for filtering data

Start making beautiful spreadsheets here.

Posted on
January 10, 2022
under Blog
January 10, 2022
Written by
Ash Gupta
Former Tech Lead for Machine Learning at Google AdWords (6 years) and a quant developer on Wall Street. Co-Founder & CEO of Polymer Search.

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