Do you ever buy something you already own and not even realize it? Is it hard to remember everything you have? If you own a lot of books, DVDs, CDs, video games, etc. it can be hard to remember everything you have. I am going to show you an easy and free way to keep track of your library of things whether it’s books, movies, board games, or anything else that’s hard to keep track.
The easiest and cheapest way to keep track of everything that I’ve found is to use Microsoft Excel. It’s the most customizable way I’ve found, and I already had the program on my computer.
I will also share a couple free apps that you can use as well, but they have different features than Microsoft Excel.
Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links. This just means that we make a little money if you buy something through one of our links. It does not cost you any more to purchase an item through our links. It just helps support this blog so we can continue to bring you more content like this.
If you already have Microsoft Office, then you should have Excel. It is the spreadsheet program.
I get so much use out of Microsoft Office. If you don’t already have it, you can get it here.
Setting Up Your Spreadsheet
I am going to walk you through the process step by step for setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of your items. For our example, I am using the spreadsheet I am currently working on right now which is a list of all of our karaoke CDs.
Step 1: Pick Your Colors & Fonts
After you have created a new spreadsheet, you can choose what you want it to look like as far as colors and fonts.
You can change the colors and fonts separately or you can choose a theme that has its own fonts and colors.
To edit the design of your spreadsheet, click the Page Layout tab at the top of the page.
Click on the Themes button to pick a theme. I am going to choose the theme called Quotable. I like the colors and font styles for this theme. You can play around with themes until you find one you like.
If you don’t like any of the themes, you can change the colors and fonts individually by using the buttons next to the Themes button.
Step 2: Create Columns
Before you create your columns, decide how many columns you will need. For my project, I am creating a list of all the songs we have on karaoke CDs, so I want five columns. My columns are for: song title, artist, genre, movie or musical (for certain songs), and CD number (this is the corresponding CD that the song can be found on. I numbered each CD).
Depending on what you are making a list of, you will have different columns.
Here are a few ideas:
- Books: title, author, genre, sub-genre, format, rating
- Movies: title, genre, actors, year
- Board Games: title, number of players, type of game, age group
In my example, I am showing you four columns because I decided to add the movie or musical column later on.
First, highlight the number of columns you want by clicking on the A column and dragging your cursor until you have highlighted the correct number of columns.
With your columns highlighted, click on the Format as Table button and choose a style. I like picking ones with alternating colors of rows because it makes it easier for me to read. Choose whatever you like.
Step 3: Add Column Headings
Click on the column heading you want to edit and type in your text in either the column heading space or the text box at the top of the page (see picture).
Step 4: Adjust Size of Columns
You might notice that your headings look a little squished. Or, if they’re not squished, you know you might need certain columns to be bigger than others.
To adjust the column widths, hover your cursor over the little line between the column letters. For example if I wanted to make column A wider, I would hover my cursor over the little line between the top of column A and B. Click the black line that appears and drag it to the right until the column is the width you want it. I do this before I start typing anything into the columns.
Another way to adjust the column width based on any text you have typed is to adjust it to the exact width that it needs to be to fit all text anywhere in that column.
To do this, hover over that same line and double click instead of dragging it. It will then move to the exact width that it needs to be to fit everything in the column. I typically do this periodically as I’m adding my information to the spreadsheet.
Step 5: Add a Dropdown Menu (Optional)
This step is completely optional but might be helpful for you when entering in your information.
In my project, I created a dropdown menu for my genres so that I don’t have to remember all the genres that I want to use.
If you want to create a dropdown menu, you first need to think of all of the items you want to be included in the dropdown menu. If you forget to add one, you can add it later, but it is easier if you have them all decided when you are first creating it.
My genres for my project are: country, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s to present, Disney, musicals, Christmas, Christian, and folk. I may end up adding more later, but that is what I have for now.
After you have decided on your dropdown menu options, type up each option in a different cell in a column you aren’t using (see picture).
Using Data Validation Button
After you have typed up your options, highlight the column that you want to use the dropdown menu. Just click on the letter above the column heading to highlight the whole column.
Next, click on the Data tab at the top of the page.
Click the Data Validation button and choose Data Validation….
When the little window pops up, choose the list option from the options.
Then, click the little square button next to the source option. This is how you choose which options will appear in your dropdown menu.
Highlight the cells you typed in earlier by clicking the top cell and dragging your cursor to the last option.
Click back on that little square button and then click okay.
Now when you click on a cell in that column, a little downward arrow will appear to the right of the cell. When you click on the arrow, the list of options will appear. If you have quite a few options, you may have to scroll down in the menu.
Add Your Information
Now that you have your spreadsheet ready, you can start typing in your information. Use the tab key on your keyboard to move from the left to the right in a row (you can also use arrow keys). Hit the enter key to move to the next row.
Sort Your Information
While you are typing your information or when you are completely done, you can sort your columns by alphabetical order or smallest to biggest (if your information is numbers).
Just go to the very top of your column and click the little arrow to the right of the column heading that you want to sort. Choose Sort A to Z or Sort Z to A.
Print Your Lists (Optional)
For my project, I am going to print out a few different lists from this same spreadsheet. First, I am going to sort my songs A to Z by song title and print that list. For my second list, I will sort my artists A to Z so that I can find songs by a particular artist. I will create a third list by genre and maybe a fourth list by movie or musical.
I’m printing my project because I don’t want to have to get out my computer in order to look at it, but you don’t have to print it out if you don’t want to.
Printing in Excel is a little different than printing a document from Microsoft Word. You have to tell Excel exactly what you want to print or you might accidentally print way too many pages or pages that are not formatted well.
Step 1: Select What You Want to Print
The best way to print your list without wasting too much paper or printing things you don’t want is to select the specific cells you want to print. To do this click your first column heading and drag your cursor to the right and down until you have selected everything you want printed. You don’t need to select your dropdown menu information.
You’ll notice that I selected some cells that don’t have anything typed in them. This is so that I can physically write in anything that I want later on.
Step 2: Change Print Settings
Next, click the File button in the top left corner and choose Print.
Click the first dropdown arrow and pick Print Selection. This means it will only print the cells you have highlighted.
Next, you can decide if you want to print double-sided or not.
Then, choose the orientation of your paper. I’m going to pick landscape because I have too many columns to print portrait.
You will have the option to change the margin settings if you want more or less on a page. I am going to use custom margins because I don’t like any of the options on the list. If you want to have custom margins, just click Custom Margins… at the bottom of the dropdown menu. Then, type in the margins you want.
The last thing you need to change before printing is the scaling of your pages. Choose Fit All Columns on One Page.
Now you are ready to print.
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Apps to Help You Keep Track of Items
Sortly is only free for so many items though, so if you want to do more, you would have to pay for it.
What do you need help organizing?
Do you use Excel to keep track of anything? Comment down below!