Outline (group) data in a worksheet

If you have a list of data that you want to group and summarize, you can create an outline of up to eight levels. Each inner level, represented by a higher number in the outline symbols, displays detail data for the preceding outer level, represented by a lower number in the outline symbols. Use an outline to quickly display summary rows or columns, or to reveal the detail data for each group. You can create an outline of rows (as shown in the example below), an outline of columns, or an outline of both rows and columns.

Data with a three-level outline

1.  To display rows for a level, click the appropriate one two three outline symbols.

2.  Level 1 contains the total sales for all detail rows.

3.  Level 2 contains total sales for each month in each region.

4.  Level 3 contains detail rows — in this case, rows 17 through 20.

5.  To expand or collapse data in your outline, click the plus and minus outline symbols, or press ALT+SHIFT+= to expand and ALT+SHIFT+- to collapse.

  1. Make sure that each column of the data that you want to outline has a label in the first row (e.g., Region), contains similar facts in each column, and that the range you want to outline has no blank rows or columns.

  2. If you want, your grouped detail rows can have a corresponding summary row—a subtotal. To create these, do one of the following:

    • Insert summary rows by using the Subtotal command    

      Use the Subtotal command, which inserts the SUBTOTAL function immediately below or above each group of detail rows and automatically creates the outline for you. For more information about using the Subtotal function, see SUBTOTAL function.

    • Insert your own summary rows    

      Insert your own summary rows, with formulas, immediately below or above each group of detail rows. For example, under (or above) the rows of sales data for March and April, use the SUM function to subtotal the sales for those months. The table later in this topic shows you an example of this.

  3. By default, Excel looks for summary rows below the details they summarize, but it's possible to create them above the detail rows. If you created the summary rows below the details, skip to the next step (step 4). If you created your summary rows above your detail rows, on the Data tab, in the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher.

    In the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher

    The Settings dialog box opens.

    The Settings dialog box for outlines

    Then in the Settings dialog box, clear the Summary rows below detail checkbox, and then click OK.

  4. Outline your data. Do one of the following:

    Outline the data automatically

    1. Select a cell in the range of cells you want to outline.

    2. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click the arrow under Group, and then click Auto Outline.

      Click the arrow under Group, and then click Auto Outline

    Outline the data manually

    Important: When you manually group outline levels, it's best to have all data displayed to avoid grouping the rows incorrectly.

    1. To outline the outer group (level 1), select all of the rows the outer group will contain (i.e., the detail rows and if you added them, their summary rows).

      A data selection ready to create an outer group

      1. The first row contains labels, and is not selected.

      2. Since this is the outer group, select all the rows with subtotals and details.

      3. Don't select the grand total.

    2. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Group. Then in the Group dialog box, click Rows, and then click OK.

      Tip: If you select entire rows instead of just the cells, Excel automatically groups by row - the Group dialog box doesn't even open.

      Click Rows and then click OK

      The outline symbols appear beside the group on the screen.

    3. Optionally, outline an inner, nested group — the detail rows for a given section of your data.

      Note: If you don't need to create any inner groups, skip to step f, below.

      For each inner, nested group, select the detail rows adjacent to the row that contains the summary row.

      Data selected to group at level 2 in a hierarchy.

      1. You can create multiple groups at each inner level. Here, two sections are already grouped at level 2.

      2. This section is selected and ready to group.

      3. Don't select the summary row for the data you are grouping.

    4. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Group.

      Click Group on the Data tab

      Then in the Group dialog box, click Rows, and then click OK. The outline symbols appear beside the group on the screen.

      Tip: If you select entire rows instead of just the cells, Excel automatically groups by row - the Group dialog box doesn't even open.

    5. Continue selecting and grouping inner rows until you have created all of the levels that you want in the outline.

    6. If you want to ungroup rows, select the rows, and then on the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Ungroup.

      You can also ungroup sections of the outline without removing the entire level. Hold down SHIFT while you click the Plus box or Minus box for the group, and then on the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Ungroup.

      Important: If you ungroup an outline while the detail data is hidden, the detail rows may remain hidden. To display the data, drag across the visible row numbers adjacent to the hidden rows. Then on the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format, point to Hide & Unhide, and then click Unhide Rows.

  1. Make sure that each row of the data that you want to outline has a label in the first column, contains similar facts in each row, and the range has no blank rows or columns.

  2. Insert your own summary columns with formulas immediately to the right or left of each group of detail columns. The table listed in step 4 below shows you an example.

    Note: To outline data by columns, you must have summary columns that contain formulas that reference cells in each of the detail columns for that group.

  3. If your summary column is to the left of the detail columns, on the Data tab, in the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher.

    In the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher

    The Settings dialog box opens.

    The Settings dialog box for outlines

    Then in the Settings dialog box, clear the Summary columns to right of detail check box, and click OK.

  4. To outline the data, do one of the following:

    Outline the data automatically

    1. Select a cell in the range.

    2. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click the arrow below Group and click Auto Outline.

    Outline the data manually

    Important: When you manually group outline levels, it's best to have all data displayed to avoid grouping columns incorrectly.

    1. To outline the outer group (level 1), select all of the subordinate summary columns, as well as their related detail data.

      Data arranged in columns to be grouped

      1. Column A contains labels.

      2. Select all the detail and subtotal columns. Note that if you don't select entire columns, when you click Group (on the Data tab in the Outline group) the Group dialog box will open and ask you to choose Rows or Columns.

      3. Don't select the grand total column.

    2. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Group.

      Click Group on the Data tab

      The outline symbol appears above the group.

    3. To outline an inner, nested group of detail columns (level 2 or higher), select the detail columns adjacent to the column that contains the summary column.

      Data grouped in columns

      1. You can create multiple groups at each inner level. Here, two sections are already grouped at level 2.

      2. These columns are selected and ready to group. Note that if you don't select entire columns, when you click Group (on the Data tab in the Outline group) the Group dialog box will open and ask you to choose Rows or Columns.

      3. Don't select the summary column for the data you are grouping.

    4. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Group.

      Click Group on the Data tab

      The outline symbols appear beside the group on the screen.

  5. Continue selecting and grouping inner columns until you have created all of the levels that you want in the outline.

  6. If you want to ungroup columns, select the columns, and then on the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Ungroup.

On the Data tab, click Ungroup

You can also ungroup sections of the outline without removing the entire level. Hold down SHIFT while you click the Plus box or Minus box for the group, and then on the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Ungroup.

If you ungroup an outline while the detail data is hidden, the detail columns may remain hidden. To display the data, drag across the visible column letters adjacent to the hidden columns. On the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format, point to Hide & Unhide, and then click Unhide Columns

  1. If you don't see the outline symbols one two three , plus , and minus , go to FileOptions Advanced, and then under the Display options for this worksheet section, select the Show outline symbols if an outline is applied check box, and then click OK.

  2. Do one or more of the following:

    • Show or hide the detail data for a group    

      To display the detail data within a group, click the plus button for the group, or press ALT+SHIFT+=.

    • To hide the detail data for a group, click the minus button for the group, or press ALT+SHIFT+-.

    • Expand or collapse the entire outline to a particular level    

      In the one two three outline symbols, click the number of the level that you want. Detail data at lower levels is then hidden.

      For example, if an outline has four levels, you can hide the fourth level while displaying the rest of the levels by clicking three .

    • Show or hide all of the outlined detail data    

      To show all detail data, click the lowest level in the one two three outline symbols. For example, if there are three levels, click three .

    • To hide all detail data, click one .

For outlined rows, Microsoft Excel uses styles such as RowLevel_1 and RowLevel_2 . For outlined columns, Excel uses styles such as ColLevel_1 and ColLevel_2. These styles use bold, italic, and other text formats to differentiate the summary rows or columns in your data. By changing the way each of these styles is defined, you can apply different text and cell formats to customize the appearance of your outline. You can apply a style to an outline either when you create the outline or after you create it.

Do one or more of the following:

Automatically apply a style to new summary rows or columns    

  1. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher.

    In the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher

    The Settings dialog box opens.

    The Settings dialog box for outlines

  2. Select the Automatic styles check box.

Apply a style to an existing summary row or column    

  1. Select the cells to which you want to apply a style.

  2. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher.

    In the Outline group, click the dialog box launcher

    The Settings dialog box opens.

    The Settings dialog box for outlines

  3. Select the Automatic styles check box, and then click Apply Styles.

    Settings dialog box with Automatic Styles selected

You can also use autoformats to format outlined data.

  1. If you don't see the outline symbols one two three , plus , and minus , go to FileOptions Advanced, and then under the Display options for this worksheet section, select the Show outline symbols if an outline is applied check box.

  2. Use the outline symbols one two three , minus , and plus to hide the detail data that you don't want copied.

    For more information, see the section, Show or hide outlined data.

  3. Select the range of summary rows.

  4. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Find & Select, and then click Go To.

    Click Find & Select, and then click Go To

  5. Click Go To Special.

  6. Click Visible cells only.

  7. Click OK, and then copy the data.

Note: No data is deleted when you hide or remove an outline.

Hide an outline

  • Go to FileOptions > Advanced, and then under the Display options for this worksheet section, uncheck the Show outline symbols if an outline is applied check box.

Remove an outline

  1. Click the worksheet.

  2. One the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Ungroup and click Clear Outline.

    Click Ungroup, and then click Clear Outline

    Important: If you remove an outline while the detail data is hidden, the detail rows or columns may remain hidden. To display the data, drag across the visible row numbers or column letters adjacent to the hidden rows and columns. On the Home tab, in the Cells group, click Format, point to Hide & Unhide, and then click Unhide Rows or Unhide Columns.

Imagine that you want to create a summary report of your data that only displays totals accompanied by a chart of those totals. In general, you can do the following:

  1. Create a summary report

    1. Outline your data.

      For more information, see the sections Create an outline of rows or Create an outline of columns.

    2. Hide the detail by clicking the outline symbols one two three , plus , and minus to show only the totals as shown in the following example of a row outline:

      Outlined list with only total rows showing

    3. For more information, see the section, Show or hide outlined data.

  2. Chart the summary report

    1. Select the summary data that you want to chart.

      For example, to chart only the Buchanan and Davolio totals, but not the grand totals, select cells A1 through C19 as shown in the above example.

    2. Click Insert > Charts > Recommended Charts, then click the All Charts tab and choose your chart type.

      Insert Chart dialog

      For example, if you chose the Clustered Column option, your chart would look like this:

      Chart made from subtotal data

      If you show or hide details in the outlined list of data, the chart is also updated to show or hide the data.

You can group (or outline) rows and columns in Excel for the web.

Note: Although you can add summary rows or columns to your data (by using functions such as SUM or SUBTOTAL), you cannot apply styles or set a position for summary rows and columns in Excel for the web.

Create an outline of rows or columns

Outline of rows in Excel Online

Outline of columns in Excel Online

Outline of rows in Excel Online

  1. The first column contains labels.

  2. The detail rows and summary rows are grouped in the outline.

  3. The grand total is not grouped in the outline.

Outline of columns in Excel Online

  1. The first row contains labels.

  2. The detail columns and summary columns are grouped in the outline.

  3. The grand total is not grouped in the outline.

  1. Make sure that each column (or row) of the data that you want to outline has a label in the first row (or column), contains similar facts in each column (or row), and that the range has no blank rows or columns.

  2. Select the data (including any summary rows or columns).

  3. On the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Group > Group Rows or Group Columns.

  4. Optionally, if you want to outline an inner, nested group — select the rows or columns within the outlined data range, and repeat step 3.

  5. Continue selecting and grouping inner rows or columns until you have created all of the levels that you want in the outline.

Ungroup rows or columns

  • To ungroup, select the rows or columns, and then on the Data tab, in the Outline group, click Ungroup and select Ungroup Rows or Ungroup Columns.

Show or hide outlined data

Do one or more of the following:

Show or hide the detail data for a group    

  • To display the detail data within a group, click the plus for the group, or press ALT+SHIFT+=.

  • To hide the detail data for a group, click the minus for the group, or press ALT+SHIFT+-.

Expand or collapse the entire outline to a particular level    

  • In the one two three outline symbols, click the number of the level that you want. Detail data at lower levels is then hidden.

  • For example, if an outline has four levels, you can hide the fourth level while displaying the rest of the levels by clicking three .

Show or hide all of the outlined detail data    

  • To show all detail data, click the lowest level in the one two three outline symbols. For example, if there are three levels, click three .

  • To hide all detail data, click one .

Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community, get support in the Answers community, or suggest a new feature or improvement on Excel User Voice.

See Also

Group or ungroup data in a PivotTable

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