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In other words there is no cookie cutter approach because each potential investment has different profit and loss drivers. One of the first things to consider is what kind of data you have to work with in your cash flow template Excel spreadsheet. Ideally you re looking for accurate monthly data including income statement items like revenue and operating expenses and balance sheet items like equipment purchases and cash from financing activities. If you have a longer time frame you can go with quarterly periods but annual tends to be too long. After all how can you predict what is going to happen beyond 5 years with any accuracy unless you re valuing an annuity? Next how much detail do you need in your cash flow template Excel spreadsheet at the individual line item level? Is cash from financing sufficient or do you need equity financing debt financing interest earned etc.
Column Alignment Depending on your information you may want to adjust where the information falls within the column. Try left center or right and see how it reads. I generally find that numbers and dates are best centered and that text seems to work with a left justification as full sentences or phrases are read left to right. But again try the different methods and see what works best for the data that you are presenting. Allow sufficient space around the information in the cells by adjusting the column width. Excel offers a feature that allows you to double-click on the end of the cell column and it automatically adjusts to fit all of your information.
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Patterns are good to use if you want to identify an area as defunct or currently not in use. Some use a strikeout on the information already there but a pattern can leave the information fairly easy to read but at the same time provide a kind of "construction area" type look to signify that this information is not currently in use on the spreadsheet. The number options refer to the type of information you re placing in the cell. If you tell Excel that you are entering currency numbers then it will automatically add the dollar sign (or others if using a different currency) and decimal point as you enter numbers.
The use of color in your spreadsheet is an extremely important consideration. Color can help emphasize particularly important data and separate it from the rest of your information. Spreadsheets that feature a lot of accounting data often use red to show failing areas and green to signify profiting ones. Choose your color schemes wisely as you do not want to obscure the data presented in the cells. Black type on a dark burgundy background would not make for easy reading just as white type on a fuscia background would not make for a pleasant experience either. Try pastels as they are easier on the eyes and allow for an easy read.