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Unhiding Columns that are Persistently Hidden

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: Unhiding Columns that are Persistently Hidden.

Jo has a co-worker who has adjusted a mutually used sheet so that columns A and B are not visible. However, they are visible on print preview and they do print out. Jo has tried unhiding them to no avail, even copying the columns and pasting them into empty columns inserted at columns C and D. However, as soon as Jo deleted the now-redundant columns A and B, the information disappeared again.

There could be several things that need to be checked with the worksheet. First, you'll want to check to make sure that the columns aren't being hidden by some macro running in the background. For instance, there could be a macro associated with an event handler, and the macro does the hiding. (Imagine a macro that hides columns A and B whenever you move from one cell to another or change a value.) The only way to fix such an issue is to either delete or edit the macro.

It is also possible that you aren't really looking at the workbook, but are looking at a custom view. These views can be set up so that certain columns are always hidden, and yet they print just fine. Check the worksheet to see if there are any custom views defined, and if that is what you are viewing.

You might also want to check to make sure that the columns are set to a visible width. It is possible that they aren't really hidden, but set to some very small width value. Selecting the columns and modifying the width to something larger should fix this problem.

One of the most common ways to "hide" columns without really hiding them is to freeze the panes. If you freeze the panes vertically with some of the columns off the screen (in this case columns A and B), then those columns remain "frozen" off the screen and you can't get them back without unfreezing the panes.

If the columns still can't be displayed, there are still two options left. First, ask the co-worker what is going on. If the condition genuinely originated with this person, then he or she should be able to explain what is going on. Second, you may need to recreate the workbook. Copy the information from the original worksheet to a new workbook (don't copy the worksheet, just the information), where you should be able to use it with no problem.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6400) 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: Unhiding Columns that are Persistently Hidden.

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Comments for this tip:

Lisa Johnson    11 May 2015, 16:17
Thanks for this article! The problem I had stemmed from the Freeze Panes feature/bug. Nice work!
Dave    09 Oct 2013, 00:53
I have a workbook where certain columns are hidden/unhidden with a macro. Works fine with xl2010, but when I open the same workbook in 2003, it refuses to unhide the columns (no error of any kind, just nothing happens). Switch back to 2010, everything works fine. This one is driving me insane!
James    28 May 2013, 03:12
Or, you can select the whole sheet, and unhide columns. Then re-hide any that should be hidden. Worked for me :)
 
 

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