One of the most widely used programs for money management is Microsoft Excel. It’s not always pretty or easy to use, but many businesses depend upon Excel spreadsheets for tracking their finances, especially expense reports. Here are some of the highlights of using expense report templates in Excel, as well as places to find downloadable templates for free.
Anatomy of an Excel Expense Report Template
If you’ve had any introduction to financial statements (or if you need one, that’s a good free course to take right there), then you know that tracking expenses is an important part of managing your company’s financial health. Microsoft provides a variety of free, pre-made templates for Excel, including one especially for expense reporting. If you can’t find the template in your Excel templates folder, then you can download it easily from Microsoft’s website. The file is compressed, though, so make sure you have Excel installed on your machine in order to unpack and open it.
Once you have the template open, you might notice that some of the fields seem a bit extraneous depending upon how large your company is (such as which department the person works in and their title), but the core requirements are there: date, description of the expense, category of the expense, and total cost. Excel automatically adds up the total at the end–all you have to do is enter each expense item and submit the form to the appropriate person in your accounting department.
The standard Microsoft template also includes a line for the purpose of the expense, an area for comments and notes, the pay period during which the report is being filed, employee information (i.e. employee ID, social security number), and whether the expenses have been approved. If you don’t need or require these fields, then it’s easy enough to delete those spreadsheet cells by selecting them, right clicking, then choosing to “Delete Row.”
If you don’t like the standard Excel template, then many online accounting tools offer their own templates, like Expensify and ProOnGo. Also, plenty of business people and finance related websites have long lists of free downloadable templates, such as Vertex42 and ReportsAndInvoices.com.
Don’t have Excel? Google Drive can handle both XLS and CSV files (the two most common types of Excel files), so you can easily download the template of your choosing, then upload it to your Google Drive for use online.
Different Versions of Excel
There are many versions of Excel, and Microsoft tends to release a new one every couple of years, so you also need to ensure that any template you download is the right file type for your version of Excel. The most current is Excel 2013, which has a much cleaner and streamlined user interface compared to its earlier counterparts. If you haven’t purchased the latest update, though, you’re most likely working with Microsoft Excel 2010 or 2007 right now. Depending upon which version you have, here are some courses to help you learn how to use it more effectively, including creating and using your own templates:
- Excel 2007 Introduction
- Learn Microsoft Excel 2010
- Learn Microsoft Excel 2013
- Learning Microsoft Excel 2011 for Mac
Have you been using any templates, Excel or otherwise, for your expense tracking? Have you created your own template, or downloaded a ready made one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments, or post a link to your favorite template!