Buy Now

How To Collapse Rows in Excel

Jul 09, 2024
How To Collapse Rows in Excel

Would you like to learn how to collapse rows in Excel?

Excel is a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data, but large spreadsheets can quickly become overwhelming. Collapsing rows is a handy feature that helps you manage your data efficiently.

Here's a simple, step-by-step guide on how to collapse and group rows and columns in Excel.

What Are Collapsed Rows?

Collapsing rows in Excel means hiding the detailed data and showing only the summary or main points. Think of it like folding a list so you only see the headlines. This makes your spreadsheet look cleaner and helps you focus on the most important information.

How To Group and Collapse Rows in Excel

Whether you're working with sales reports, financial statements, or project plans, learning how to collapse and group rows will help you manage your data more effectively. Below are steps to group and collapse rows in your Excel window:

Step 1: Organize your data.

Ensure your data is organized in a way that allows for easy grouping. Typically, this means having related data in consecutive rows.

Step 2: Select the rows to group.

Click and drag to select the rows you want to group. For example, if you want to group only the visible rows from 2 to 5, click row number 2 and drag down to row number 5. Make sure to include all the rows that you want to collapse together.

Step 3: Group the rows.

If your data has patterns like subtotals, you can let Excel automatically group rows for you. The auto outline feature is a time-saver, automatically detecting and applying groups based on patterns in your data. This is especially useful for structured data, such as financial models. Here's how to do it:

  • Click any cell: Select any cell within your data range.

  • Open the group menu: Go to the "Data" tab and click the "Group" menu.

  • Select auto outline: Choose " Auto Outline." Excel will analyze your data and group rows based on its structure.

Additionally, you can follow the steps below to manually group rows in Excel 2010 and Excel 2007:

Excel 2010 and later.

  • Go to the "Data" tab on the ribbon.

  • Click "Group" in the "Outline" group.

  • Select "Group Rows" from the dropdown menu.

Excel 2007.

  • Go to the "Data" menu.

  • Press "Group and Outline" in the "Outline" group.

  • Select "Group" from the dropdown menu.

A minus sign (-) will appear next to the row numbers, indicating that the rows are grouped.

Step 4: Collapse the rows.

Tap the minus sign (-) next to the grouped rows. The selected rows will collapse, and a plus sign (+) will appear, indicating the rows can be expanded again if needed.

Step 5: Expand the rows.

Click the plus sign (+) next to the row numbers to view the collapsed rows again. This will expand the rows and display the hidden data.

Read more: How to unhide all rows in Excel.

How To Group Columns in Excel

You can either group columns in Excel manually or automatically. The illustration below explains how to group columns:

1. Manually grouping columns.

Grouping columns in Excel is a handy way to organize your data. Here's how to do it manually:

  • Select the columns: Click and drag to highlight the columns you want to group.

  • Go to the data tab: Click on the "Data" tab in the Excel ribbon.

  • Press the group button: Click the "Group" button to group your selected columns.

2. Automatically grouping columns.

Excel can automatically group your columns for you if they have clear patterns. This auto outline feature saves time by automatically detecting and grouping columns based on data patterns, which is especially useful for large, complex spreadsheets. Here's how to do it:

  • Choose any cell: Select any cell within your data range.

  • Open the group menu: Go to the "Data" tab and click the "Group" menu.

  • Select auto outline: Click "Auto Outline." Excel will analyze your data and group the columns based on their structure.

3. Grouping nested data.

Nested groups help you manage complex data structures by allowing you to collapse and expand different levels of data as needed. This creates a hierarchy within your spreadsheet. You can collapse all data with level 1, show the outer group with level 2, or display all groups with level 3. For data that needs multiple levels of grouping, follow the simple steps below:

  • Group the innermost data first: Start by grouping the smallest data sets.

  • Collapse the inner group: Keep this group collapsed.

  • Group the larger outer data set: Then, group the broader one.

Why Group and Collapse Rows and Columns in Excel Spreadsheets?

Grouping and collapsing rows and columns can help you manage and organize this data more effectively. Here's why you should consider using the collapse and group features in your Excel sheet:

1. Simplify your data.

Collapsing and grouping rows and columns help simplify your data view by hiding details you don't need. This makes your spreadsheet less cluttered and easier to read.

For instance, you can group data by month in a sales report and collapse it to show only quarterly summaries. This way, you can focus on the bigger picture without being distracted by daily figures.

2. Improve accessibility.

Large spreadsheets can be difficult to access. By grouping and collapsing sections, you can quickly jump to the parts of the spreadsheet that matter most to you.

You can group tasks by phase in a project management sheet and collapse them. This lets you focus on one phase at a time while keeping track of the overall project.

3. Enhance data analysis.

When you group and collapse data, you can easily compare summary information. This makes it simpler to analyze trends and patterns in your data. For a financial report, grouping expenses by category and collapsing them allows you to see the total expenses for each category at a glance.

3. Save time.

Collapsing rows and columns lets you hide unnecessary details so you can quickly access the information you need. This is particularly useful when you're dealing with large datasets.

You can group items by category in a detailed inventory list and collapse the groups. This helps you quickly find specific categories without scrolling through every single item.

4. Organize data hierarchically.

Grouping and collapsing data creates a hierarchical structure, making it easier to manage complex datasets. In an organizational chart, grouping employees by department and collapsing the groups helps you see the overall structure without getting lost in individual employee details.


Grouping and collapsing rows and columns in Excel is essential for anyone working with large datasets. Following this step-by-step guide, you can easily organize your data, making it more manageable and easier to analyze. These features help you simplify your view, improve navigation, enhance data analysis, save time, and maintain a clear hierarchical structure in your spreadsheets.

Visit Simple Sheets for more easy-to-follow guides and examples, and remember to visit the related articles section of this blog post.

For the most straightforward Excel video tutorials, Subscribe to Simple Sheets on YouTube!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of grouping rows and columns in Excel?

Grouping rows and columns in Excel helps to organize large datasets by combining related data into a single group. This makes it easier to view, access, and analyze your data.

Can I automatically group rows or columns based on data patterns?

Yes, you can automatically group rows or columns if your data has clear patterns, such as subtotals.

How do I collapse or expand grouped rows or columns?

To collapse grouped rows or columns, click the minus sign (-) next to the group. To expand them, click the plus sign (+) next to the group.

Related Articles

How to Insert Current Time in Excel

How to Insert Date in Google Sheets

How to Use Edate Function in Google Sheets

Want to Make Excel Work for You?ย Try out 5 Amazing Excel Templates & 5 Unique Lessons

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.