How to create an Excel timesheet (including benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Excel timesheets are valuable tools in the workplace because they help monitor productivity. Managers use them to track how employees spend their time at work. Learning how to create an Excel timesheet can help you improve your team's performance. In this article, we explain what an Excel timesheet is, describe how to create one and list its benefits.

What is an Excel timesheet?

An Excel timesheet is a digital spreadsheet that records working hours. Supervisors typically use these timesheets to determine the hours each employee works, when they arrive at work, their breaks and when they leave. You can create daily, weekly or monthly Excel timesheets to track productivity. For example, a supervisor might use daily timesheets to monitor their team's hours spent working on a project and record each team member's overall working hours on a weekly timesheet to monitor the team's overall time efficiency.

Related: How to highlight Excel skills on your CV

How to create an Excel timesheet

You can follow these steps to learn how to create an Excel timesheet:

1. Define your data requirements

Consider the type of work, number of employees and the company's requirements when choosing a timesheet. Use a daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly timesheet depending on the data you want to collect. Then, design the columns and labels according to your data requirements. Some of the information you could consider for your timesheet includes:

  • project details

  • employees' details, such as their names and ID numbers

  • task start time and end time

  • reporting periods, such as the date, week or month

  • the total hours your team members work

  • employee, supervisor or client signature

2. Devise an appropriate title

Adding a title makes it easy to find your timesheet amongst your other documents. You can use the organisation's or department's name or any appropriate descriptor. Here's how to add a title:

  • Open a new spreadsheet.

  • Select the cells in the first row and click the 'Merge and Centre' button in the toolbar.

  • Type an appropriate title in the merged first row.

  • Change the title's font and text size to the style you prefer.

  • Use the buttons on the toolbar to style your title by making it bold or adding colour.

  • Select the label columns you've just created.

Related: How to share an Excel file (with definition and steps)

3. Add identification labels

Choose identification labels, such as your team members' names and employee IDs, the project name and the reporting date. Add them two or three rows below the timesheet's title. Adding two or more labels to a single row saves space and gives the timesheet a tidy appearance. If you want the user to add data, leave a blank cell after each label.

4. Incorporate time labels

Time labels allow employees to add their details. You can use these steps to add time labels:

  • Leave a blank row below the identification labels.

  • Select a range of cells in the blank row by highlighting them.

  • Click the 'Merge' button in the toolbar to merge these cells.

  • Add 'Time in 'and 'Time out' labels below this blank row.

  • Repeat these labels to include breaks, such as the time between shifts.

  • Highlight the label column.

  • Use the 'Wrap Text' button to format the labels to prevent text overflowing into nearby cells.

  • Change the labels to bold font and adjust their text alignment to show the labels clearly.

5. Format the spreadsheet

Formatting your spreadsheet improves its readability. You could change the column widths, realign or adjust the text's size, switch fonts, add styles and highlight cells. Here are some steps you can use to format your timesheet:

  • Select a range of cells or an entire row or column.

  • To select a row, click the leftmost cell that contains its number.

  • To select a column, click on the topmost cell that contains its letter.

  • Consider widening some columns to display the text legibly.

  • Click on the right edge at the top of the column and drag it to an appropriate width to widen it.

  • Use colours if you want to highlight some columns.

  • Click on the 'B' button to change your text to bold.

  • Select the format painter to copy the format of a cell, column or row and paste it into another one.

  • Use 'All borders' formatting to create a grid-like appearance that works well for printing.

6. Add formulas

Using Excel to simplify this procedure, you can calculate total pay and overtime using the data in your timesheet at the end of the week or month. Excel has formulas that automate the computation process, making it easier to analyse a large amount of data. You can create a formula from Excel's basic formulas to calculate a specific outcome. For instance, by using the SUM function, you can display the total overtime hours in the last cell of your 'Overtime hours' column. Here's how you can enter an Excel formula:

  • First, select a cell.

  • Type an 'equals' sign to inform the program that you want to create a formula.

  • Enter an appropriate formula.

  • You can edit an existing formula by selecting its cell and typing a new formula in the formula bar.

  • Then, click 'Enter'.

Related: 12 basic Excel skills to help you advance your career

7. Use data validation

The data validation feature can help you restrict the data users' records. This feature reduces the risk of recording unintentional data. For instance, the feature rejects data that isn't a date value in cells you reserve for dates. Here's how to use the data validation feature:

  • Select the range of cells where you want to apply the feature.

  • Click the 'Data Validation' button from the 'Data' tab in the toolbar.

  • Click the 'Settings' tab.

  • Choose the data type you want to allow, such as date, text, time or whole number.

  • Choose whether the users can leave these cells blank.

  • Click on the 'Input' and 'Error' tabs in the dialogue box to set input and error messages to display.

  • Finally, click 'OK'.

8. Lock unnecessary cells

You can use Excel to restrict access to particular cells in your timesheet. This feature prevents unnecessary changes to specific cells. Protecting the timesheet locks the selected cells and distinguishes locked from unlocked cells. Use the following steps to lock cells in Excel:

  • Right-click on the cell you want to lock.

  • Select the 'Locked' button on the 'Protection' tab and press 'OK'.

  • Use this process to lock all the cells you want to protect.

  • Use the same procedure to unlock cells in the timesheet you previously locked.

  • Click on 'Protect sheet' under the 'Review' tab to protect your timesheet.

  • Uncheck all the options except 'Select Unlocked Cells' in the 'Protect Sheet' dialogue box.

  • Select a password for the timesheet, and click 'OK'.

  • Share the password with other users.

Benefits of an Excel timesheet

The following are some benefits of using an Excel timesheet for time-tracking:

Improved business analytics

The time your team spends working is valuable information for managing company analytics. A timesheet makes it easier to analyse business productivity and expected revenue projections. Time-tracking using Excel also helps the company improve its time management.

Related: How to use data consolidation in Excel: a complete guide

Simple to use

An Excel timesheet is easy to implement because you can follow a list of steps to create it. You can also create your own Excel formulas or calculate different quantities automatically. The feature is free in Excel and accessible to anyone with the software, making it an inexpensive and efficient way to track time.

Related: How to add error bars in Excel and why they're useful

Increased productivity

An Excel timesheet makes it easier to determine which employees worked on particular projects and for how long. This information can help you assess the productivity of various team members in specific tasks. Understanding the efficiency of team members in different activities can help you streamline project allocation.

Related: 13 project management strategies to boost productivity

Payroll processing

The human resources (HR) department can use an Excel timesheet to prepare payroll. Tracking employees' working hours can help HR personnel calculate their salaries and determine whether they're due for holiday pay or overtime. They can customise Excel formulas to help them calculate different payroll elements, such as income tax deductions and overtime.

Flexibility

You can share an Excel timesheet online or print it and give it to your team members. Employees can also download and convert Excel timesheets to other formats, such as PDF files, before sending them to their supervisors. The company can also customise timesheets to fit specific needs, such as incorporating custom formulas to quantify specific data.

Related: Shortcuts in Excel to develop better spreadsheet skills

Transparency

Implementing an Excel timesheet at work promotes accountability because you can track how long an employee has been working on a project. It reduces payroll disputes because the timesheet contains information on each employee's working hours. Using an Excel timesheet also offers an accurate reference for performance evaluations.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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