How to Manage Columns in Excel
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You’ve entered a bunch of data in your Excel spreadsheet, but now you need to add more columns in the middle, move and hide some columns, and change the width of some other columns. Don’t panic. We’ve got you covered.

Today we’ll cover some basic Excel operations How to Calculate Basic Statistics in Excel: A Beginner's Guide How to Calculate Basic Statistics in Excel: A Beginner's Guide Microsoft Excel can do statistics! You can calculate percentages, averages, standard deviation, standard error, and student's T-tests. Read More for columns that will help you enter and organize your data efficiently.

How to Add Columns in Excel

When entering data, you may need to add or insert columns if you want to add data in between existing columns. Select the column (click on the column header) to the right of where you want to insert the new column. Then, right-click on the column and select Insert.

how to manage columns in excel

How to Hide or Unhide Columns in Excel

If you’re working with a large spreadsheet with a lot of data, it’s helpful to hide columns to make it easier to see the information you want to analyze. You can always unhide the columns How to Hide or Unhide Columns and Rows in Excel How to Hide or Unhide Columns and Rows in Excel If you're dealing with a data-heavy spreadsheet, sometimes it's helpful to hide or unhide rows and columns to better see the information you need to analyze. Read More later.

Select the column you want to hide. Then, right-click on the column and select Hide. You can also select multiple columns to hide using the Shift and Ctrl keys.

how to manage columns in excel

You’ll see a thin double line where the column was, and the lettered heading is skipped. In our example, we hid column B, so the lettered headings jump from A to C.

how to manage columns in excel

To unhide a column in Excel, click on the thin double line to select it. Then, right-click on the selected double line and select Unhide.

how to manage columns in excel

How to Move or Copy Columns in Excel

There are two ways to move or copy a column. You can drag and drop the column or use the Cut or Copy commands on the ribbon or the right-click menu.

Using Drag-and-Drop

When you move or copy a column using the drag-and-drop method, the contents of the column you’re moving or copying will replace the contents in the target column. If you don’t want to replace the contents, insert a new column to move or copy the column to.

To move a column, select the column you want to move. Then, move your mouse over the left or right border of the column (not the column heading) until the cursor becomes the move pointer, which is a plus icon with arrows. Drag the column to the new location.

how to manage columns in excel

To copy a column, use the same method, but press Ctrl while moving the mouse over the border of the column. You’ll see the copy pointer instead of the move pointer. Keep the Ctrl key pressed the whole time you’re dragging the column to the new location.

how to manage columns in excel

Using the Cut or Copy Commands

If you’re not comfortable dragging a column to a new location, you can use the Cut or Copy command.

Select the column you want to move or copy and click the Cut button (or the Copy button right below the Cut button) in the Clipboard section of the Home tab. You can also right-click on the selected column and select Cut or Copy.

Then, select the column to the right of where you want to move or copy the selected column. Right-click and select Insert Cut Cells or Insert Copied Cells.

how to manage columns in excel

How to Change the Width of a Column in Excel

The standard column width in Excel is 8.43 characters. But the actual width that you see on the screen varies, depending on the width of the font used in your workbook.

To quickly find out the width of a column, put the mouse over the right border of the column header. Then, click and hold down the left mouse button (or the right button, if you’ve switched them). The width in characters is shown as well as the width in pixels.

You can change the width of a column by entering in a new number for the width or by dragging the column border.

Set a Column to a Specific Width

To set the width of a column to a specific value, select the column you want to change. Then, right-click on the column and select Column Width.

You can also go to Home tab > Cells > Format. Under Cell Size, select Column Width.

how to manage columns in excel

On the Column Width dialog box, type a number and click OK.

Because of the way Excel determines column width, you may have to experiment with different numbers to get the width you want.

how to manage columns in excel

Change the Width of Many Columns by Dragging Borders

Using the mouse to make a column wider or narrower might be easier. You can see how wide or narrow the column is as you drag.

To change the width of one column, drag the boundary on the right side of the column heading until the column is the width that you want.

how to manage columns in excel

To change the width of multiple columns, select the columns that you want to change, and then drag a boundary on one of the selected columns.

how to manage columns in excel

To change the width of all the columns at the same time, click the Select All button in the upper-left corner of the grid. Then, drag the border on any one column.

how to manage columns in excel

Change the Column Width to Automatically Fit Contents

To autofit a single column, double-click the right border on the column heading. You don’t need to select the column first.

You can autofit multiple columns at once. Select all the columns you want to autofit and double-click the right border on one of the selected columns.

To quickly autofit all columns on the worksheet, click the Select All button in the upper-left corner of the grid, and then double-click any border between two column headings.

Another way to autofit one or more selected columns is to go to Home tab > Cells > Format. Under Cell Size, select AutoFit Column Width.

how to manage columns in excel

Line ‘Em Up

Now you understand the basics of managing columns in Excel. This will help you manipulate columns to organize your data just the way you like. You can also change Excel document settings 5 Excel Document Settings You Must Never Forget to Check 5 Excel Document Settings You Must Never Forget to Check When you pick an Excel template or share a spreadsheet, it may contain custom settings that you don't want anyone to see. Always check these settings. Read More and set up custom views in Excel How to Use Excel Custom Views Like a Pro How to Use Excel Custom Views Like a Pro The Excel custom views feature lets you save spreadsheet and print settings for later. Few people know this tool. We'll show you how to use custom views. Read More to optimize your worksheets.

You can create templates in Excel How to Quickly Create a Custom Excel Template to Save Time How to Quickly Create a Custom Excel Template to Save Time Excel templates are universally useful — they can help you keep your finances in order, manage a project, and organize your life. We show you how to create your own custom template. Read More to save time. Other nifty tips and tricks include using Excel to create a new calendar How to Make a Calendar Template in Excel How to Make a Calendar Template in Excel You'll always need a calendar. We show you how to create your own custom template for free with Microsoft Excel. Read More , learning to master Excel’s Goal Seek feature How to Use Excel's Goal Seek and Solver to Solve for Unknown Variables How to Use Excel's Goal Seek and Solver to Solve for Unknown Variables Excel can solve for unknown variables, either for a single cell with Goal Seeker or a more complicated equation with Solver. We'll show you how it works. Read More , understanding IF statements in Excel How to Use IF Statements in Microsoft Excel How to Use IF Statements in Microsoft Excel Whether you're a seasoned expert or a spreadsheet beginner, you'll want to check out this guide to IF statements in Excel. Read More , and knowing how to create dropdown lists in Excel How to Create a Dropdown List in Excel How to Create a Dropdown List in Excel Excel supports versatile dropdown list options. Use them to control user input. We'll show you how to add dropdown lists to your Excel spreadsheets. Read More .

Explore more about: Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office Tips, Spreadsheet.

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  1. T Al
    January 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Nice idea for demonstrating the methodes. Starting a new trend.