How to hide and group columns in Excel

This tutorial shows how to hide columns in Excel 2019, 2016 and 2013. You will see the standard Excel Hide columns functionality in action as well as learn to group and ungroup columns with Outline.

The possibility to hide columns in Excel is really helpful. There may be lots of reasons for keeping certain details from showing:

  • You want to compare 2 or 3 columns but they are separated by several other columns. For example, you need to see column A and column Y side-by-side. You may also find the article How to freeze panes helpful.
  • You have several helper columns with calculations or formulas that may confuse other users of the workbook.
  • You would like to keep some important formulas or personal details from being seen or edited by your colleagues. You can learn how to protect your columns from being displayed if you have a look at Disable the Unhide column option in Excel.

Read on to see how Excel enables you to hide columns in an instant. In this article you'll also find an interesting way to hide columns via the Group option which adds special icons to quickly conceal and display certain columns.

Excel - Hide columns you select

If you want to hide one or several columns in your table, you can easily deal with this task

  1. Open your worksheet and select one or several columns you want to hide.
    Tip. You can pick several non-adjacent columns keeping the Ctrl key pressed.
  2. Right-click above one of the selected columns and pick the Hide option from the menu list.
    Right-click above one of the selected columns and pick the Hide option
Tip. The shortcut-oriented users will appreciate this hotkey for hiding the selected columns: Ctrl+0.

Voila! Now you can easily review your data skipping the extra details.

Use the Group option to hide and show columns in a click

Hiding columns is a popular task among spreadsheet users. Have you thought of the Excel Group function as of a way to deal with hiding and showing columns? Actually, it makes the process much more straightforward. It's really helpful if you often need to see non-adjacent columns side by side but these columns are always different.

When you group columns, you see small icons inserted around the Excel grid. They allow you to hide and unhide data really quickly. These icons also show you which columns are hidden and which can be concealed.

  1. Select your table.
  2. Press Shift + Alt + right arrow.
  3. You will see the Group dialog box appear. Select the Columns radio button and click OK to confirm.
    Select the Columns radio button on the Group dialog

    Tip. You can get the same dialog if you go to Data -> Group -> Group.

    Go to Data -> Group and select the Group option

    Tip. You can select the range and press Shift + Alt + left arrow to remove grouping.

    This will add special Outline symbols to your table.
    Add special Outline symbols to your table

  4. Now select the columns you want to hide one by one and press Shift + Alt + right arrow for each column.
    Note. It's not possible to select several non-adjacent columns.

    As soon as you press the hotkey, you will see the minus sign icon added to the outline above your selected columns.
    See the minus sign icon added to the outline

  5. Clicking on the minus icon will hide the column and the icon will change to the plus sign letting you to instantly unhide the data.
    Unhide the column by clicking on this icon
  6. You can also use the small numbers in the top left corner. They let you hide and unhide all groupings of the same level at once. For example, in my table on the screenshot, clicking on 1 will hide the entire table and clicking 2 will hide columns C and E. This is especially useful if you created a hierarchy of grouping.
    Hide and unhide all groupings of the same level at once

That's it. You learnt how to use the Excel Hide columns option. You also know how to group and ungroup columns to show or hide them. Hope you found the tips helpful and they will simplify your daily work with tables. Be happy and excel in Excel!

You may also be interested in

20 responses to "How to hide and group columns in Excel"

  1. Danielle W says:

    Awesome, Just what I was looking for!

    Great instructions!

  2. Pablo says:

    Thank you so much!

  3. Kay says:

    I have grouped columns on my worksheet but would like to know if I can give the group a name rather than seeing the + and - signs. Is this possible?

    Thanks in advance!

  4. Nico Loubser says:


    Thank you for the tip. It works great in an unprotected sheet but if i have the sheet protected it doenst allow me to hide the columns. I tried some settings like "format columns" in the selection list when protecting the sheet but this didnt work. Is there a way to protect the sheet and hide/unhide these columns?

    Thank you.

  5. Davison says:

    hey can any one tell me how we get red and Green sign in a Cell if the value comes out to be less or more than the projected.

  6. Paul says:

    Is there a way to place a title or comment with or next to the Hide Detail (-) button and Show Detail (+) button? Individuals viewing workbooks are not always familiar with the buttons and what they are for. Or
    is there a way to change the icon or add a color to the buttons to draw attention to them?

    Thank you in advance for your response.

  7. Mark Jon Taneo says:


    I created groups on a sheet with ActiveX radio buttons and check boxes. Now, when I collapse the group, the radio buttons and check boxes have permanently been hidden. How do I show them back?

  8. Ryan Vellia says:

    Hello. I have data sorted by the month broken down into years across columns. I would like to be able to group single years together but I have an problem. It does not let me group Jan-Dec of 2017 and Jan-Dec of 2018 because December 2017 is right next to January 2018.

    Is there anyway I can work around this?

  9. Taiwo Adedeji says:

    This is so helpful - thank you.

  10. Abc says:

    How can I create multiple groups of columns that are adjacent, e.g. group a,b,c in one group and d,e,f in another group. The article at
    Does this for rows.

    • FW says:

      I am hoping to do this too!
      Did ever figure it out?

      • XSA says:

        It works fine for me if the last column in each group is some sort of subtotal column (for example, it SUMS the columns in the group). Without that, the only way I can get it to work is to add a blank column at the end of each group (including the last group, if you are working with a table), then select all the columns in the desired group (including the blank column), then group.

        In some ways, this is a bit pointless: when the group is collapsed, all you see is an empty column! And if you subsequently delete the empty column, Excel simply joins the two groups (either side of deleted column) back together. Oh, and if you want to see titles or labels for the groups, put them in the header row at the top of the blank columns. That's what shows when the groups are collapsed.

        I get around the annoyance of empty columns by finding something useful to put into them. For example, one of my groups is "Patient data", which contains a bunch of details about each individual. I have populated the "summary" column with data from two of them: "Gender | Age".

        It does seem a poor design, based on the core assumption that the primary purpose of Excel is to manage financial (or numerical) data. That may have been valid, even self-obvious, many years ago, but is not the case these days.

  11. Medicaltipes says:

    Do you see double lines at column or row headers instead of the columns or rows, like in this picture?

  12. Ajit says:

    i have a file in excel with 2 to 3 sheets and i have to do hide rows. one sheet contains 10 columns and other 20 .i want do it hide rows shoud apply for both whatever may be the number of to do it?

  13. dimitris.p says:

    Hi i would like to ask a question. Once i create this is it possible to save it as function so i can call it anytime i like for the specific report? the program i use creates a report with the exact same columns every time so i wonder if i can just do it once and just call it any other time.
    Thank you

Post a comment

Thank you for your comment! When posting a question, please be very clear and concise. This will help us provide a quick and relevant solution to your query. We cannot guarantee that we will answer every question, but we'll do our best :)