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Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Excel

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Ever have a beautiful MS Excel worksheet, I mean absolutely perfect, except that one column. You know, the one column with the necessary data for your calculations but not really a part of the presentation. We’re talking about the essential column that you must keep, but don’t want displayed for a presentation or on the hard copy.

Often, Excel users have a lot more data in the worksheet than they need to display in the final presentation. Some users will put this data far to the right on the worksheet. They then set the print area so that it does not include the unwanted columns.

Others will put the extra data on a different worksheet and have the formulas draw from that location. This can be a good solution to the problem, but can be time-consuming because of the extra time spent going back and forth between the worksheets.

There are many different solutions to this particular problem and everyone will have their favorite.However, I think one of the easiest solutions is a method that people are usually unaware of. Simply hide the column!

Hide the columns?

Yes, hide them! They will not be visible on the screen or in the printouts, but rest assured, the data is there and can be displayed again.

So, how do you hide a column?

Well, the first thing you need to do is to highlight the column(s) to be hidden.

  • One of the fastest ways to accomplish this is to click on the column title(s). (i.e. the A, B, C, etc.)


  • With your mouse pointer over a highlighted column, right click.


  • You should see the Hide choice on the menu. Select it.

Poof! Your highlighted column(s) is gone. But is it really?

Take a look at the column letters at the top. Notice anything?


You should. Careful inspection will tell you that a letter has been skipped. The missing letter(s) is your hidden column.

All formulae dependent on the data in this column are still working, you just don’t see the raw data any longer.

Now, how do you display the column again if you need to edit or add data to it?

Good question.

  • First you need to locate where the column should be.
  • Highlight the columns on either side of the hidden column. (For example, if column C is hidden, select columns B and D.)
  • Right click over the highlighted columns and choose Unhide from the pop-up menu.

Voila! The column is back in plain sight.

Now, here’s another cool fact. You can do this same stuff with the rows.

Use the row numbers to highlight entire rows followed by the right click.

You’ll see the same Hide / Unhide options as before.

That’s it. It’s a little trick that sometimes comes in pretty handy.

Yet another thing that leaves me thinking: “If only I had this option in life”. Tons of stuff to hide—the undone laundry, the sinkful of dishes, the mosquitos in the backyard, the bills in the mailbox, the cat’s litterbox… The list goes on and on.

~ April

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