How I made this great-looking table in Excel


Here’s what we’re going to make.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Last week, when Apple introduced its new line of M3 processors, I set out to create a comparison table to introduce the M3s and compare them to the M2s and M1s. I built it with ZDNET colors in Excel. While I hope that readers found the article helpful, I can’t be sure — because all the reader letters I received were about how I made the table.  

Also: Does Apple’s M3 chip obsolete the M1 and M2? Here’s when to upgrade – and why

You can see the end result above. For the rest of this article, I’ll walk you through the process of making it ZDNET-worthy.

We’ll start with a spreadsheet containing the table data, in Excel default format. I’m doing this on a Mac, but the steps are the same in Excel for Windows. Don’t forget that you can click the little zoom rectangle in the upper right corner to see a larger version of any of these images.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Matching colors

To start off, I wanted to establish my color palette. I wanted the chart to reflect ZDNET’s three main colors, the electric green, black, and the blue used when hovering over an active link. You can see that blue color by hovering over the ZDNET logo on the upper left of any page.

I moved my mouse over the ZDNET logo to force it to highlight, then used the screen capture tool on the Mac (Command-shift-4) to capture a block of the page. Then I pasted that block into my spreadsheet.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Don’t worry about where this logo goes. We’ll be getting rid of it in a minute.

I picked a cell a few lines below the bottom of the table, and then chose the drop-down arrow to the immediate right of the Paint Bucket tool. Then I selected More Colors.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

I used the Eyedropper tool to hover over the ZDNET green, and clicked. That dropped the ZDNET green color in the swatch box.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

I clicked OK, and filled the first cell with green. I repeated the process to get the proper blue and black. You don’t really need to create three cells with each of the three colors because Excel keeps track of recent colors.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

But I make a habit of creating cells with the color palette I’m using because then the colors travel with the document and aren’t tied to the instance of Excel I happen to be using at the time.