Microsoft Excel has achieved the level of acceptance among users which cannot be shaken by any other spreadsheet application. You learn Excel the more you work on it. It is just like a new language. Just like we learn a new language by using it more and more, similarly the more we work on Excel the more we learn and we see the awesome features present in it. In this post I will discuss a feature called Groups present in Microsoft Excel. This feature helps you in Grouping similar rows and columns for better readability and hiding the not so important information from visibility. You can anytime unhide the hidden content to take a look. It is just like displaying the headers and keeping the details hidden, and whenever you need you can click on a button to get to the detailed rows or columns.

The Group option is available under the Data menu in Excel 2003 and it is a very useful feature for sure. Let us learn how to create groups of rows of columns in Excel 2003

Creating a Group and Outline

Before we begin, please note that only single continuous block of data can be grouped. This feature doesn’t work with multiple selections because of obvious reasons.


Select the Rows/Columns that you want to Group.


Once you have the selection click on the Data menu and then Click on Create Group option.


This action will create the group and will hide all the rows/columns except the last one.

Once the grouping is done you will notice that on there are some bars and a Plus or Minus button added on the extreme left (for row grouping) and on top (for column grouping). These plus and minus buttons can be used for collapsing or expanding the grouped data range. You can have multiple groups on the same set of rows and columns but they should not overlap but should only be nested. If we have a nested grouping and if we collapse the parent group then all the child groups also collapse and same is the case while expanding.

Groups are very handy when we have large set of data to be presented and then we can create tables and hide the details and keep only the headers visible. For example if we have to show the yearly sales data then we can group the days of the month and keep only the total of that month visible. If someone wants to look at the sales of any specific date then he/she can expand the group to view the specific date’s data.