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: Easy Value Hiding.

Easy Value Hiding

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 25, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Excel provides many different ways to hide the content of your workbooks. Perhaps one of the easiest (and most novel) ways is to use the custom formatting feature of the program. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells whose content you want to hide.
  2. Choose Cells from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Number tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. In the list of format categories, select Custom.
  6. In the Type box, enter three semicolons (;;;).
  7. Click on OK.

Now the information in the cell is not visible, nor will it print. You can, however, see the information in the Formula Bar, and it can be overwritten if you enter anything else in the cell.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2939) 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: Easy Value Hiding.

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. ...

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