How to Create a Bracket in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a bracket in Excel is surprisingly simple and can be done in just a few steps. First, you’ll need to set up your worksheet with the appropriate number of cells for your bracket size. Then, you’ll enter the competitors’ names and use Excel’s drawing tools to create the connecting lines that form the bracket. Finally, you can format and style the bracket to your liking.

Once you’ve completed your bracket, you’ll be able to easily track the progress of a competition or tournament, update the results, and determine the winner.


Creating a bracket in Excel might seem like a task reserved for the tech-savvy or those with advanced Excel skills. However, it’s much easier than you might think. Whether you’re organizing a local sports tournament, a gaming competition, or even a friendly office pool, Excel can be your go-to tool for creating a professional-looking bracket.

But why Excel, you ask? Excel is a powerful tool that offers flexibility and customization for your brackets. It’s widely available, most people have some familiarity with it, and it can handle anything from a simple single-elimination tournament to a complex multi-stage event with ease. Moreover, it’s not just for number crunching. Excel’s drawing tools can be used to create clear, concise, and visually appealing brackets that are easy to update and share. This tutorial is for sports enthusiasts, event organizers, or anyone looking to streamline their tournament setup. So let’s get started!

Step by Step Tutorial – Creating a Bracket in Excel

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what we are aiming to achieve here. By following these steps, you’ll create a customizable bracket in Excel that you can use for any tournament or competition. Excel will serve as both the template for your bracket and the tool to track progress through the competition.

Step 1: Set Up Your Worksheet

Open Excel and set up your worksheet by creating enough cells for your bracket size.

For this step, you need to determine how many competitors you have and thus how large the bracket will be. For example, if you have 8 competitors, you’ll need a bracket that accommodates 8 slots. To set up your worksheet, simply resize the cells in Excel to form the structure of your bracket. Make them large enough to fit the names of the competitors and the connecting lines.

Step 2: Enter the Competitors’ Names

Input the names of the competitors in the corresponding cells.

Once the structure is in place, start by entering the names of the competitors in the cells where the matches will take place. Ensure that you distribute the names appropriately to reflect the tournament’s seeding or order of play. This step is crucial as it sets the stage for the following rounds.

Step 3: Use Excel’s Drawing Tools

Utilize Excel’s drawing tools to connect the cells and form the bracket lines.

This step involves using Excel’s line tool, found under the “Insert” tab, to draw lines connecting the cells. These lines represent the path that competitors will take as they advance in the tournament. You can find the line tool under the “Shapes” option, where you can select straight lines or elbow connectors to create your bracket.

Step 4: Format and Style the Bracket

Customize the appearance of your bracket by formatting the cells and lines.

Here’s where you can get creative. Change the color, width, and style of the lines to make your bracket stand out. You can also format the text and cells to align the names, use different fonts, or highlight winners. Excel offers a variety of formatting options to make your bracket look professional and clear.


CustomizableWith Excel, you have the freedom to create a bracket that fits your specific needs. You can adjust the size, style, and format to your liking, making it perfect for any type of competition.
Easy to UpdateAs the tournament progresses, updating the bracket is straightforward. Simply add the winner’s name to the next cell and update the connecting lines if needed. This ease of use makes Excel an ideal tool for tracking competition progress.
ShareableExcel files are easy to share with participants and spectators alike. You can email the file, share it via cloud services, or even print it out for a physical display. Everyone can stay in the loop with the latest results.


Learning CurveWhile Excel is user-friendly, there can be a learning curve for those unfamiliar with its drawing tools. Understanding how to manipulate lines and cells might take some practice.
Time-ConsumingCreating a bracket from scratch can be time-consuming, especially for larger tournaments. You’ll need to invest time in setting up the structure and formatting it to your liking.
Limited Design OptionsWhile Excel offers various formatting options, it may fall short for those wanting more intricate designs or advanced graphical elements in their brackets.

Additional Information

When creating a bracket in Excel, remember that your spreadsheet is not just a static document; it’s a dynamic tool that can be adapted as the tournament evolves. One tip is to use conditional formatting to highlight winners or important matches automatically. Also, consider using Excel’s features like protecting the worksheet to prevent accidental changes or data loss.

Don’t forget to save your work frequently, especially after significant updates like entering match results. It can be frustrating to lose all your progress due to an unexpected shutdown or error. Lastly, if you’re organizing a recurring event, save your bracket as a template. This way, you can reuse it for future tournaments without starting from scratch.

Creating a bracket in Excel also opens up possibilities for integrating other data, like scores or stats, into your tournament overview. You can create a comprehensive document that serves multiple purposes, from tracking progress to analyzing performances.


  1. Set Up Your Worksheet
  2. Enter the Competitors’ Names
  3. Use Excel’s Drawing Tools
  4. Format and Style the Bracket

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make a double-elimination bracket in Excel?

For a double-elimination bracket, you’ll need to create two sets of brackets: one for the winners’ bracket and one for the losers’ bracket. Follow the same steps outlined above but ensure you have enough space to accommodate both brackets and the final match.

Can I automate the bracket to update winners?

Excel does not automatically update winners in the bracket, but you can use formulas to pull the winners’ names into the subsequent rounds. This requires a bit more advanced knowledge of Excel functions.

Is there a limit to how big the bracket can be in Excel?

The only limit is the number of rows and columns Excel provides, which is more than enough for even the largest tournaments. However, larger brackets may be harder to view and manage on a single screen.

Can I add images or logos to my Excel bracket?

Yes, you can add images or logos by inserting them as pictures. This can be useful for adding team logos or sponsor images to your bracket.

How can I share my Excel bracket online?

You can share your bracket by uploading the Excel file to a cloud storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive and sharing the link, or by using Excel Online’s sharing features.


Creating a bracket in Excel is a skill that can come in handy for various scenarios, from organizing a local sports league to setting up a fun office pool. It’s a perfect blend of functionality and versatility, allowing you to create a custom, updateable, and shareable bracket. Sure, there might be a learning curve, and it’s not without its limitations, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

With some practice and creativity, you’ll be able to produce professional-looking brackets that will impress participants and spectators alike. So next time you’re tasked with tracking a tournament, turn to Excel, and let it do the heavy lifting.

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