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: Understanding Outlining.

Understanding Outlining

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 12, 2015)

Excel includes a feature that allows you to outline your data. This simply means that Excel analyzes your data and assigns different rows to different "levels." These levels can then be selectively hidden or displayed, depending on your needs. An outline is handy for getting a quick understanding of large amounts of data.

You can create an outline in several ways:

  • Insert automatic subtotals. Select a cell in a data list, then choose Subtotals from the Data menu.
  • Let Excel automatically outline your data list. Select the list that you want outlined, then choose Group and Outline from the Data menu, then Auto Outline from the resulting submenu.
  • Manually outline your data list. Select the data you consider to be detail information, then choose Group and Outline from the Data menu, then Group from the resulting submenu.Repeat the process for all other detail information in the data list.

Once your data is outlined, outline symbols appear at the left side of the worksheet. You can display different levels of data by using the mouse to click on the various symbols.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2542) 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: Understanding Outlining.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Sorting with Graphics

If the graphics that you insert in your worksheet meet a couple of simple requirements, it is possible to have those graphics ...

Discover More

Editing the Custom Spelling Dictionaries

Excel provides spell-checking capabilities on the text you enter in a worksheet. It utilizes the same dictionaries and custom ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of the Task Pane on Startup

Tired of the task pane appearing every time you start Word? Here's how to get rid of it.

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (MENU)

Watching Cell Values

Want to know what is happening in certain cells in your worksheet? Using the Watch Window is a great way to keep an eye on ...

Discover More

Embedding an Excel Chart in a Word Document

As components of the Microsoft Office suite, one would expect Excel and Word to work together. One of the most common tasks ...

Discover More

Using Revision Tracking

Want to keep track of the changes other people make to your workbook or even your own changes? Excel makes gathering this ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share