How to Group and Outline Data in Microsoft Excel 2003

By Contributing Writer

Of the many great features that spreadsheet software offers, many users are unaware of the “Group and Outline Data” feature. This feature is great for users who have lengthy spreadsheets that are adorned with tiers of data, but wish to consolidate that data or reorganize it. By grouping and outlining the desired data, users are even able to hide clutters of numbers without removing them from the spreadsheet. Similarly, they are also able to unmask the data and view it again at the simple click of a button.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Excel 2003

Step 1

Select the data that you wish to group and outline. The fastest way to select data for this operation is by clicking and holding the mouse button as you drag the cursor over the desired data and highlight it; release the mouse button when you are finished and the data will remain highlighted.

Step 2

Access the "Group and Outline" menu. Scroll to the “Data” tab on the command bar and select “Group and Outline Data.”

Step 3

Group and outline the data. From the submenu that opens, scroll to and select “Group Data.” This will group the data and outline the rows and columns of the data that you just grouped. The outline will appear as a bar above the column letters and row numbers, which has a plus sign and a minus sign on the ends.

Step 4

Hide the data group. Click on either sign--the plus sign reveals data and the minus sign hides data--to hide or show the groups of data.

Tips & Warnings

  • This feature is great for groups of relevant data that you wish to outline for projects or proposals, or for large groups of data that you wish to outline and hide.
  • Hiding groups of data that you outline will remove them from the printed spreadsheet.