How to Hide and Unhide Anything You Want in Microsoft Excel

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If you have a lot of data in a worksheet, or you’re working on a small screen, you can hide values in Microsoft Excel to make it easier to view and analyze your data.

Here’s everything you need to know on how to hide data in Excel and manage the information you want to work with.

How to Hide Overflow Text in Excel

When you type text in a cell, and the text is wider than the cell, the text overflows into the adjacent cells in the row. If there is any text in the adjacent cell, the text in the first cell is blocked by the text in the adjacent cell.

You can solve this by having the text wrap in the first cell. But that increases the height of the entire row.

If you don’t want to show the overflow text, even when there is nothing in the adjacent cells, you can hide the overflow text.

Select the cell containing the text that’s overflowing and do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected cell(s) and select Format Cells.
  • Press Ctrl 1.

Select Format Cells to hide overflow text in Excel

On the Format Cells dialog box, click the Alignment tab. Then, select Fill from the Horizontal dropdown list and click OK.

Select Fill under Horizontal on Format Cells dialog box in Excel

The overflow text in the first cell does not show even when there is nothing in the cell to the right.

Overflow text hidden in Excel

How to Hide and Unhide Comments

Comments in Excel allow you to annotate your worksheets. This is useful when collaborating on worksheets. You can set reminders or add notes for yourself or for others to explain formulas or how to use part of a worksheet.

You may want to hide comments if there are many on your worksheet. The comments could make it hard to read your data.

By default, cells with comments contain a small colored triangle in the upper-right corner called a comment indicator. These indicators can also be hidden by going to the Excel options as we will see further down.

  • To hide a comment on an individual cell, select the cell and click Show Comments in the Comments section of the Review tab.
  • To show the comment again, select the same cell and toggle the Show Comments button again.
  • You can also show or hide comments on multiple cells by using the Shift and Ctrl keys to select the cells and toggle the visibility with Show Comment button.
  • To show all comments at once, just click the  Show Comments in the Comments group on the Review tab. This option shows all the comments on all open workbooks. While this option is on, any workbooks you open or create will show all comments until you toggle the button off.

Show All Comments in Excel

5 Steps to Control the Visibility of Comments in Excel

  1. To hide both the comments and comment indicators, go to File > Options.
  2. Click Advanced on the left, then scroll down on the right to the Display section.

Hide comments and indicators in Excel

  1. Select No comments or indicators under For cells with comments, show. The indicators and comments are hidden, and the comments won’t display when you hover over cells.
  2. To show the comments and indicators again, select one of the other two options. You can also click Show All Comments in the Comments section of the Review tab.

The options under For cells with comments, show in the Excel Options and the Show All Comments option on the Review tab are linked.

Comments are a must for effective collaboration. So take the effort to learn all about managing comments in Excel if you share a workbook in a group.

How to Hide and Unhide Certain Cells

You can’t hide cells themselves, but you can hide cell contents in Excel. Maybe you have some data referenced by other cells that do not need to be seen.

To hide the contents of a cell, select the cell(s) you want to hide (use Shift and Ctrl to select multiple cells). Then, do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected cell(s) and select Format Cells.
  • Press Ctrl 1.

On the Format Cells dialog box, make sure the Number tab is active. Select Custom in the Category box.

Before changing the Type, note what’s currently selected. This way you know what to change it back to when you decide to show the content again.

Enter three semicolons (;;;) in the Type box and click OK.

Cell contents hidden in Excel

The contents in the selected cells are now hidden, but the value, formula, or function in each cell still displays in the Formula Bar.

The hidden content is still available to use in formulas and functions in other cells. If you replace the content in a hidden cell, the new content will also be hidden. The new content is available for use in other cells just like the original content.

To show the content in a cell again, follow the same steps above. But this time, choose the original Category and Type for the cell on the Format Cells dialog box.

How to Hide and Unhide the Formula Bar

When you hide a cell, as described in the previous section, you can still see the contents, formula, or function in the Formula Bar. To completely hide the contents of a cell, you must hide the Formula Bar also.

On the View tab, uncheck the Formula Bar box in the Show section.

Hide the Formula Bar using the View tab in Excel

You can also hide the Formula Bar on the Excel Options dialog box.

Go to File > Options. Then, click Advanced on the left and uncheck the Show formula bar box in the Display section on the right.

Hide the Formula Bar using Excel Options

How to Hide and Unhide Formulas

By default, when you enter a formula in a cell, the formula displays in the Formula Bar and the result displays in the cell.

If you don’t want others to see your formulas, you can hide them. One way is to hide the Formula Bar using the method in the previous section. But anyone can reveal the Formula Bar again.

You can securely hide a formula in a cell by applying the Hidden setting to the cell and then protecting the worksheet.

Select the cell(s) for which you want to hide the formula(s) and do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected cell(s) and select Format Cells.
  • Press Ctrl 1.

On the Protection tab, check the Hidden box. Then, click OK.

Check the Hidden option in Excel

You still need to protect the sheet to hide the formulas.

Click Protect Sheet in the Protect section on the Review tab.

Click Protect Sheet in Excel

On the Protect Sheet dialog box, make sure the Protect worksheet and contents of locked cells box is checked.

In the Password to unprotect sheet box, enter a password to prevent others from unprotecting the worksheet. This is not required, but we recommend it.

By default, Select locked cells and Select unlocked cells are checked in the Allow all users of this worksheet to box. You can check boxes for other actions you want to allow users of your worksheet to perform, but you may not want to if you don’t want other users to change your worksheet.

Enter your password again on the Confirm Password dialog box.

Protect Sheet with password in Excel

The formulas in the selected cells do not show in the Formula Bar now. But you still see the results of the formulas in the cells, unless you’ve hidden the contents of those cells as described in the “How to Hide and Unhide Certain Cells” section above.

To show the formulas again, select the cells for which you want to show the formulas and click Unprotect Sheet in the Protect section of the Review tab.

If you entered a password when protecting the sheet, enter the password on the Unprotect Sheet dialog box that displays. If you didn’t protect the sheet with a password, no further prompts are displayed.

Click Unprotect Sheet in Excel

The formulas won’t show just yet. Reverse the process you followed to hide the cell contents now and turn off the Hidden setting for them.

Select the cells for which you hid the formulas and do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected cell(s) and select Format Cells.
  • Press Ctrl 1.

Uncheck the Hidden box on the Protection tab and click OK.

The formulas for the selected cells will now be visible in the Formula Bar again if you haven’t hidden the Formula Bar.

How to Hide and Unhide Rows and Columns

If you want to remove one or more rows or columns from a worksheet, but you don’t want to delete them, you can hide them. The process for rows and columns is almost similar with the exception of the keyboard shortcut.

Hide and Unhide Rows in Excel

To hide one or more consecutive rows, first select the rows. Then, do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected rows and select Hide.
  • Press Ctrl 9.

Hide Rows in Excel

The selected rows are replaced with a double line in the row headings and a thick line where the rows were. When you click anywhere else on the worksheet, the thick line goes away. But you can tell where the hidden rows are by the missing row numbers and the double line in the row headings.

Cells in hidden rows and columns can still be used for calculations while hidden.

Rows hidden in Excel marker

The fastest way to unhide a single row. Hover your mouse over the hidden row marker, and when the mouse pointer turns into a split two-headed arrow, double click it.

You can also use the keyboard shortcut: Ctrl Shift 9

Unhide specific adjacent rows. Select the rows above and below the hidden rows. Then, do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected rows and select Unhide.
  • Press Ctrl Shift 9.

Unhide all rows in a worksheet. Click the Select All button (the little triangle at the intersection of the row and columns on the top right).

  • Right-click and select Unhide.
  • Press Ctrl Shift 9.

What if you hide the first row? This method of unhiding doesn’t work on the first row of a worksheet because there is no row above the first row.

To select the first row, click in the Name box to the left of the Formula Bar, type in “A1” if the hidden row is the topmost in the sheet or “A2” if you are using column headings as in the screenshot below. Press Enter. Then, press Ctrl Shift 9.

Unhide the first row in Excel

Hide and Unhide Columns in Excel

The hide option in Excel is similar for both rows and columns. Select the column or consecutive columns you want to hide, and do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected columns, and select Hide.
  • Press Ctrl 0 (zero).

The same double line and thick line you see when hiding rows display in place of the hidden columns. The column letters are also hidden.

To show the columns again, select the columns to the left and right of the hidden columns. Then, do one of the following:

  • Right-click on the selected columns and select Unhide.
  • Press Ctrl Shift 0 (zero).

If you’ve hidden the first column (A), you can unhide it as you do for when you hide the first row.

The fastest way is to drag the colored line to the right and reveal the first hidden row. Hover your mouse over the marker you see in the screen below till the cursor changes into a double-headed arrow. Drag to the right.

Unhide first column in Excel

To select the first column, click in the Name box to the left of the Formula Bar, type in “A1”, and press Enter. Then, press Ctrl Shift 0 (zero).

There are some instances when the unhide keyboard shortcut doesn’t work. Instead of using the shortcut, you type “A1” and Enter to select the hidden column. Then, go to Home > Cells Group > Format > Visibility > Hide & Unhide > Unhide Columns.

Unhide Columns from the Ribbon in Excel

If you’ve hidden a lot of rows and columns, you can unhide all the hidden columns at once.

Select the entire worksheet by clicking in the box between the row and column headers or pressing Ctrl A. Then, press Ctrl Shift 0 (zero) to unhide all the hidden columns.

You can also right-click on the row or column headers while the entire worksheet is selected and select Unhide.

Show Only the Data You Want to Show in Excel

Hiding data is a simple but useful skill to learn in Excel, especially if you plan to use your worksheets in a presentation. Enter all the data you need, even if you only need some data for calculations or some is sensitive or private.

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