Every Excel workbook contains at least one worksheet. You can create multiple worksheets to help organize your data, and each worksheet is shown as a tab at the bottom of the Excel window. These tabs make it easier to manage your worksheets.
Currently, the Excel worksheet row limit is over 1 million, and the column limit is 16.384. It may seem like you’ll never reach that limit, but with certain tasks, you might just get to that limit. Maybe you have a list of millions of email addresses for your marketing campaign.
If you find you are reaching the row or column limit, you can break up the data onto multiple worksheets, or tabs. You can export the Excel file into a CSV file by going to File > Export > Change File Type > CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv) and then splitting the single, large CSV file into smaller files.
Today we’ll look at how to work with tabs in Excel to efficiently manage multiple worksheets in one workbook.
Insert a New Tab
To add another Excel worksheet to your workbook, click the tab after which you want to insert the worksheet. Then, click the plus icon to the right of the tab bar.
The new tab is numbered with the next sequential sheet number, even if you’ve inserted the tab in another location. In our example, our new sheet is inserted after Sheet3, but is numbered Sheet6.
Need to search your Excel sheets for data? Learn how to use the INDEX and MATCH formulas instead of VLOOKUP!
Rename a Tab
New tabs are named Sheet1, Sheet2, etc. in sequential order. If you have multiple worksheets in your workbook, it’s helpful to name each of them to help you organize and find your data.
To rename a tab, either double-click on the tab or right-click on it and select Rename. Type a new name and press Enter.
Each tab must have a unique name.
Scroll Through Tabs
If you have a lot of tabs, they may not all display at once, depending on the size of your Excel window. There are a couple of ways you can scroll through your tabs.
You’ll see three horizontal dots on one or both ends of the tab bar. Click the three dots on one end to scroll through the tabs in that direction. Then, click on the three dots on the other end to scroll back the other way.
You can also click the right and left arrows on the right side of the tab bar to scroll through the tabs. These arrows also have other uses, as indicated by the popup that displays when you move your mouse over one of them.
View More Tabs on the Tab Bar
The scrollbar at the bottom of the Excel window takes up room that could be used for your worksheet tabs. If you have a lot of tabs, and you want to see more of them at once, you can widen the tab bar.
Hover your mouse over the three vertical dots to the left of the scrollbar, until it turns into two vertical lines with left and right arrows. Click and drag the three dots to the right to make the tab bar wider. You’ll start seeing more of your tabs displayed.
Copy or Move a Tab
You can make an exact copy of a tab in the current workbook or in another open workbook, which is useful if you need to start with the same data from one tab on a new tab. You can also move tabs to another location in the same workbook or another open workbook. Right-click on the tab you want to copy or move and select Move or Copy.
On the Move or Copy dialog box, the currently active workbook is selected in the To book drop-down list. If you want to copy or move the tab to another workbook, make sure that workbook is open and select it from the list. You can only copy or move tabs to open workbooks.
In my first company meeting I showed them how to copy & paste an Excel tab and I got a standing ovation. Old people are amazed by technology
— Ant (@AJ_Cola_44) September 8, 2016
In the Before sheet list box, select the sheet, or tab, before which you want to insert the copied (or moved) tab.
If you’re copying the tab, and not moving it, make sure the Create a copy box is checked and click OK. If the Create a copy box is not checked, the tab will be moved to the chosen location instead of copied.
If you copied the tab, the new tab contains the same exact data as the original tab and has the same name as the original tab followed by a version number. You can rename the tab as we described in the Rename a Tab section above.
If you moved the tab, the name remains the same. A version number is not added.
If you only want to move a tab a short distance within the same workbook, you can manually move the tab to the new location. Click and hold the tab until you see a triangle at the upper-left corner of the tab. Then, move the tab until the triangle points to where you want to move the tab and release the mouse.
Delete a Tab
You can delete worksheets in your workbook, even those containing data. You will lose the data on a deleted Excel worksheet, and it might cause errors if other worksheets refer to data on the deleted worksheet.
Remember, a workbook must contain at least one worksheet, so you can’t delete a worksheet if it’s the only one in your workbook.
To delete an Excel worksheet, right-click on the tab for the worksheet you want to delete and select Delete.
If the worksheet you’re deleting contains data, the following confirmation dialog box displays. Click Delete, if you’re sure you want to delete the data on the worksheet.
Keep Your Excel Data Organized
Tabs are a great way to keep your Excel data organized and make it easy to find. You can customize the tabs to organize your data in the best way that suits your needs.
You can also speed up navigation and data entry on your worksheets using keyboard shortcuts, as well as these tips to save time in Excel. If your workbook contains sensitive information, you can password protect your Excel file.
Do you have any more tips for making the most out of Excel worksheet tabs? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments below.