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Accounting and bookkeeping

Excel Tips, Tricks and Templates for Small Business Accounting

Microsoft Excel (Excel) is not just a spreadsheet program; it's a robust tool that can significantly simplify your bookkeeping tasks. If you're looking to enhance your financial management skills, understanding how to use Excel effectively becomes crucial for small business accounting.

In this article, we'll unravel key accounting functions in Excel, share insightful Excel tricks and tips to boost efficiency, and provide free bookkeeping Excel templates. With the added guidance of QuickBooks, we'll demonstrate how to leverage Excel for streamlined invoicing, expense tracking, and more. 

Join us as we explore the intricacies of Excel's functionality, offering a comprehensive guide on optimizing this powerful tool for small business accounting success.

We’ll explore: 

Tips and tricks for small business accounting using Microsoft Excel

For small business owners wondering how to set up an Excel spreadsheet for bookkeeping, this article provides valuable insights. Microsoft Excel can be a powerful tool for managing accounting tasks for a small business. Here are some tips and tricks on how to use Excel for accounting.

Accounting number format 

Apply consistent accounting number formatting to maintain uniformity and accuracy across all your accounting spreadsheets. This will make your data more organized and easier to read.

When using Excel for accounting, you’ll likely want to update your cell format to the official accounting number style (one of the benefits of accounting software is that you don’t have to worry about this step). 

The accounting number format in Excel will present your data in a way that’s consistent with how accounting professionals display numbers. This format can help make large data sets easier to read and interpret. If your Excel software has a cell format as a shortcut on the Home tab of your spreadsheet, it’s a quick and easy adjustment to make your cells in the accounting number format:

Excel accounting shortcut

Now, if you don’t have it, it’s still pretty quick and easy to change your cells to the accounting format.

Excel accounting shortcut

In particular, here’s how to format any cell in the accounting number format:

1. Select the cells containing financial data: To apply the format to your financial data, you first need to select the cells containing the data you want to format. You can select multiple cells by holding down the Ctrl key as you click each cell.

2. Open the Format Cells dialog box: Once you have selected the cells you want to format, you need to open the Format Cells dialog box. You can do this by right-clicking on the selected cells and choosing Format Cells from the context menu.

3. Choose the Accounting Number formatting option: In the Format Cells dialog box, select the Number tab and scroll down until you see the Accounting Number formatting option. This option will display your financial data with dollar signs, negative values in parentheses, and two decimal places.

4. Customize the formatting options (optional): If you want to customize the Accounting Number format, you can do so by clicking the Options button in the Format Cells dialog box. Here, you can choose different currency symbols, adjust the number of decimal places displayed, and modify other options to better suit your needs.

5. Apply the Accounting Number format to your data: Once you have selected the Accounting Number formatting option and customized it (if desired), click OK to apply the format to your financial data.

The accounting number format in Excel can help organize and analyze your organization's financial data.

Useful Excel formulas and functions for accounting


Excel offers a range of keyboard shortcuts that can significantly speed up your workflow. Some valuable shortcuts include Ctrl+C for copying, Ctrl+V for pasting, and Ctrl+S for saving. For a comprehensive list of shortcuts, refer to Microsoft's official documentation. You can also learn about and use custom formulas and functions like SUM, AVERAGE, IF, VLOOKUP, and CONCATENATE to perform complex calculations and data manipulations. 


  • Data Validation: Implement data validation rules to ensure the data entered into your spreadsheets is accurate and consistent. This can prevent errors and discrepancies in your accounting records.



  • Pivot Tables: Utilize pivot tables to summarize and analyze large amounts of data quickly. They can help you gain valuable insights into your business's financial trends and patterns. Learn how to create and use pivot tables effectively through this tutorial.


  • Conditional Formatting: Apply conditional formatting to highlight important information and identify trends or discrepancies in your financial data easily.


  • Protect Data: Protect your sensitive financial data by setting passwords for your Excel files and restricting access to authorized personnel only.


  • Version Control: Maintain a proper version control system to keep track of changes made to your spreadsheets. Use features like track changes or version history to monitor modifications.


  • Regular Backups: Always create backups of your Excel files to prevent data loss in case of accidental deletion or corruption.


  • Data Visualization: Utilize charts and graphs to visualize your financial data and trends. This can help you present information in a more digestible and visually appealing format.


  • Macro Automation: Learn to use macros to automate repetitive tasks and streamline your accounting processes. This can save time and reduce the risk of human error.


  • Training and Learning: Stay updated with the latest Excel features and functions by attending training sessions, webinars, or online tutorials. Improving your Excel skills will help you make the most of the software.

By incorporating these tips, you can effectively utilize Excel as a temporary accounting solution for your starting business. Learn more hacks and shortcuts to make you an Excel expert.


However, as your business grows, you might consider transitioning to a small business accounting software like QuickBooks Online (QBO) for more complex accounting tasks and data management.

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71% of customers say QuickBooks helps them run their business more successfully than their previous method.*

Use Excel accounting templates

Begin by utilizing pre-designed accounting templates available in Excel. These templates can include income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and expense trackers. Visit QuickBooks Tools and Templates Hub to download free Excel accounting and bookkeeping templates.

Discover QuickBooks Excel Tools and Templates

Examples of accounting Excel templates


QuickBooks offers a variety of Excel templates and tools that can be useful for small business accounting. Some templates include:









  • Excel Inventory Template: Manage and track orders made to suppliers for inventory or other business needs with QuickBooks free Excel inventory template.


  • Budget Template: Create and monitor a budget for your small business, providing a clear overview of your planned and actual expenses. Download QuickBooks free Excel small business budget template.


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Scale your small business accounting with QuickBooks 


While Excel provides valuable features for small business accounting, comparing QuickBooks vs spreadsheets reveals that transitioning to QuickBooks Online (QBO) can significantly automate accounting tasks and enhance financial management.

QBO offers seamless collaboration with accountants, presenting a more efficient solution for your business.


By switching from Excel to QuickBooks Online, you’ll have the advantage of an automated cloud solution to streamline your small business accounting. You'll be able to work with your accountant in real-time, ensuring that your finances are always in order and that you have access to expert guidance whenever needed. Try a 30-day trial today and see how QuickBooks Online can help you grow your small business.

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