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Displaying a Hidden First Column

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Displaying a Hidden First Column.

Excel makes it easy to hide and unhide columns. What isn't so easy is displaying a hidden column if that column is the left-most column in the worksheet. For instance, if you hide column A, Excel will dutifully follow out your instructions. If you later want to unhide column A, the solution isn't so obvious.

To unhide the left-most columns of a worksheet when they are hidden, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Go To from the Edit menu, or press F5. Excel displays the Go To dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Go To dialog box.

  3. In the Reference field at the bottom of the dialog box, enter A1.
  4. Click on OK. Cell A1 is now selected, even though you cannot see it on the screen.
  5. Choose Column from the Format menu, then choose Unhide.

Another way to display the first column is to click on the header for column B, and then drag the mouse to the left. If you release the mouse button when the pointer is over the gray block that marks the intersection of the row and column headers (the blank gray block just above the row headers), then column B and everything to its left, including the hidden column A, are selected. You can then choose Column from the Format menu and then choose Unhide.

A third method is even niftier, provided you have a good eye and a steady mouse pointer. If you move your mouse pointer into the column header area, and then slowly move it to the left, you notice that it turns into a double-headed arrow with a blank spot in the middle as you position the pointer over the small area immediately to the left of the column B header. This double-headed arrow is a bit difficult to describe; it looks most closely like the double-headed arrow that appears when you position the pointer over the dividing line between column headers. It is different, however, because instead of a black line dividing the double arrows, there are two black lines with a gap between them.

When your mouse pointer changes to this special double-headed arrow, all you have to do is right-click and choose Unhide. Your previously missing column A magically reappears.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2626) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Displaying a Hidden First Column.

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Comments for this tip:

Patrick    12 Mar 2015, 11:29
Nothing worked until I tried your tip first. Spot on. Thanks!
J. Whiteman    22 Jan 2015, 14:06
Thank you for telling how to find hidden Cell A1 in Excel.
Willy Vanhaelen    01 Jan 2015, 05:06
That can happen when you scroll off the screen column A and then freeze the first column now being column B. In that case you will never see column A and it appears to be hidden. So unhide has then no effect because it is not really hidden.

The method you describe or simply apply unfreeze can "unhide" column A.
Julian    31 Dec 2014, 03:49
I have found on sheets that are are used in both 2003 & 2007 versions none of these methods works. But with a slight modification method one will. At step 4 of method 1 instead of choosing Unhide, first choose Hide, then redo the step using Unhide.
Sumit    30 Dec 2014, 09:57
It worked. Thanks!
SURESH MANDADAPU    23 Dec 2014, 05:40
Thanks for the tip.
Robert Miller    13 Dec 2014, 15:47
I copied the data onto a worksheet that
included Column A. Quick and easy. Same principle as stated by Dennis.
Dennis    20 Nov 2014, 11:56
If the above doesn't work when trying to unhide Column A on someone else's spreadsheet, it sometimes help to Unfreeze Panes.
Max    29 Sep 2014, 04:57
Great Tip!

I found thought hat using Method 3 if you hover your mouse over the left of column B as described until you get the double headed arrows, instead of right clicking and selecting unhide, you can simply left click and drag column A back to any size you wish!!

Kind regards


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