Hiding and Showing: Basic How-To

Okay, let’s say you’ve got an inventory with all the information you could possibly want… but you don’t necessarily want it all right now. Let’s say you’re browsing in a bookstore, and have your inventory on a chip in your cell phone, and you spot a new book by an author that you know you’ve read in the past. You might want to look up how you rated other books by that author, but by the time you’ve scrolled sideways past the series, publisher, and genre columns you might not be able to see the author’s name anymore!

Fortunately there’s an easy solution. Most spreadsheet programs will let you “hide” rows and columns that you don’t want to see. It’s useful in the situation I just described, and also when you’re writing a complicated spreadsheet with a lot of formulas that you don’t want accidentally overwritten.

Of course, once you hide something you need to be able to unhide it again, so I’ll describe how to do both steps in this post.

General Instructions
In any program, to hid a row or column you’ll have to start by selecting one or more cells in the row(s) or column(s) you want to hide.

With the exception of Google Spreadsheet, in order to unhide a row or column you will need to select the rows or columns (not just cells, but the entire row or column) on both sides of the hidden row/column. If column A or row 1 is hidden then you’ll need to select the entire sheet. This means that all hidden rows and columns will be revealed, so I don’t recommend hiding the first row or column unless you expect to never need to access it again (unlikely) or you don’t plan to hide anything else on that sheet (more likely).

In Excel 97:

To Hide:

  1. Click on the “Format” header or type Alt-O.
  2. Click on Column (or type C) or on Row (or type R).
  3. Click on Hide (or type H)

To Show:

  1. Click on the “Format” header or type Alt-O.
  2. Click on Column (or type C) or on Row (or type R).
  3. Click on Unhide (or type U)

In Excel 2007:

To Hide:

  1. Right-click on the row or column label.
  2. In the menu that appears click on “Hide” or type H.

– OR –

  1. On the Home tab, find the “Cells” group. For me it’s the 2nd from the right.
  2. In the “Cells” group, click on “Format” to open a menu.
  3. In the “Format” menu, hover over “Hide and Unhide” or type U.
  4. In the sub-menu that appears, select either “Hide Rows (or type R), or “Hide Columns (or type C).

Note: The keyboard shortcuts for Excel 97 (Alt-O-R-H and Alt-O-C-H) still work in Excel 2007.

To Show:

  1. Right-click on one of the selected row or column labels.
  2. In the menu that appears click on “Unhide” or type U.

– OR –

  1. On the Home tab, find the “Cells” group. For me it’s the 2nd from the right.
  2. In the “Cells” group, click on “Format” to open a menu.
  3. In the “Format” menu, hover over “Hide and Unhide” or type U.
  4. In the sub-menu that appears, select either “Unhide Rows (or type O), or “Unhide Columns (or type L).

Note: The keyboard shortcuts for Excel 97 (Alt-O-R-U and Alt-O-C-U) still work in Excel 2007.

In Google Spreadsheet:

To Hide:

  1. Right-click on the label of the row or column you want to hide.
  2. In the menu that appears click on “Hide row” or “Hide column”. If you have a small screen you may need to F11 to switch to full-screen mode in order to see that far down in the menu.

To Show:

  1. Note that where your row or column used to be there is now a white rectangle with two blue arrows (up and down for rows, right and left for columns). Click on one of the blue arrows.

In OpenOffice Calc:

To Hide:

  1. Right-click on the row or column label.
  2. In the menu that appears click on “Hide” or type H.

– OR –

  1. Click on the Format label (or hit Alt-O) to open the Format menu.
  2. Click on either “Row” (or type R), or “Column” (or type M) to open the appropriate sub-menu.
  3. Click on Hide (or type I for a row, or H for a column).

To Show:

  1. Right-click on one of the selected row or column labels.
  2. In the menu that appears click on “Show” or type S.

– OR –

  1. Click on either “Row” (or type R), or “Column” (or type M) to open the appropriate sub-menu.
  2. Click on Show or type S.

In Microsoft Works Spreadsheet:

To Hide:

  1. Select one or more cells in the row(s) or column(s) you want to hide.
  2. Click on the Format label (or hit Alt-O) to open the Format menu.
  3. Click on either “Row Height…” (or type H), or “Column Width…” (or type W) to open the appropriate sub-menu.
  4. Set the Row Height or Column Width to zero.
  5. Click on the “OK” button.

To Show:

  1. Click on either “Row Height…” (or type H), or “Column Width…” (or type W) to open the appropriate sub-menu.
  2. Set the Row Height to 12 or Column Width to 10. (Actually any non-zero number would work, but those are the “standard” sizes.)
  3. Click on the “OK” button.