Do not use WordArt in your financial model!

In Excel there is a horrible functionality called WordArt. If you didn’t know this already then I apologise for having given you an idea of being able to present your words like art.

I don’t like WordArt for a few different reasons. The main one is that the default design options are just appallingly bad. Take a look at the screenshots and tell me if you disagree:


Can WordArt be useful at all?

Look, rx if you are talented in the art of design then maybe, sick just maybe, WordArt may be the tool you have been looking for! It certainly provides a lot more flexibility on how to present words/characters than just using the default fonts.

One word of warning though! If the world would have accepted WordArt as ‘good design’ then the logos of many companies in the world would have looked a lot different to where they ended up:


These two (very colourful, but hideous) examples have been created using two default options in WordArt. Warning!

No linking functionality to the content of cells

Another big flaw of the WordArt functionality is that you can’t link it to the content of cells. This is clearly not a problem in Word or PowerPoint (where WordArt makes a lot more sense) but in Excel where dynamic links are critical to logically present information it is puzzling why Excel didn’t put this functionality in.

[EDIT] My mistake, you can actually link cell content to a WordArt object. See Chris McNeill’s comment in the Comments section of this post. Thanks for sharing this Chris! Now the only remaining problem is that it still looks very poor in 95% of all applications! [/EDIT]

Do you like WordArt?

If you genuinely like WordArt and think it is a great tool then just make sure that you stay away from the default settings (all of them!). Also, I would recommend that you show your creative designs to some of your non-financial-modelling friends to see what they think. My rule is that less is more in financial models, and WordArt is definitely not helping in this regard.

Recent posts by Rickard Wärnelid

Comments for “Do not use WordArt in your financial model!”

  1. Alda Williams says:

    As a financial analyst who does most of my work on a shared drive, I typically only use WordArt to indicate that a file is in progress or that I’m waiting on other input data to finalize a report. Other than that, I don’t find it very useful.

  2. Chris McNeill says:

    Who says you can’t link WordArt to a cell’s contents? I’ve just done it in XL2007 successfully…and XL2003.

    First insert the WordArt with some dummy text…then once on the sheet select it and in the formula bar set up your range reference. Voila, linked contents.


  3. Nick Crawley says:

    @ Rickard : I think your original title might be a little strongly worded although I do agree with the sentiment. Excel (and Microsoft generally) have got terirble default theme settings although 07 is arguably a little better. To make matters worse, they have provided so many ways of customising objects and WordArt that the average user isn’t going to come up with anything much better than the defaults.

    @ Chris McNeill : It is certainly possible, but I struggle to think of any good applications, maybe you could share some shots through an article? Out of interest I am in Nigeria this week among other things assisting a development bank understand how to model more sophisticated operational and financing structures allowable in ’07 over ’03. So my POV may well be blinkered to transaction modelling and I am always keen to see how others use parts of Exce l may have ruled out.

  4. @Chris: yep, you are right! I have added an additional section to the original post above to make readers aware of this. I am now actually considering testing WordArt out again…

Comment on this Article