Guide on How to Group in Excel
Grouping rows and columns in Excel is critical for building and maintaining a well-organized and well-structured financial model. Using the Excel group function is the best practice when it comes to staying organized, as you should never hide cells in Excel. This guide will show you how to group in Excel with step-by-step instructions, examples, and screenshots.
Excel Group Function
The Excel group function is one of the best secrets a world-class financial analyst uses to make their work extremely organized and easy for other users of the spreadsheet to understand.
Reasons to use the Excel Group Function:
- To easily expand and contract sections of a worksheet
- To minimize schedules or side calculations that other users might not need
- To keep information organized
- As a substitute for creating new sheets (tabs)
- As a superior alternative to hiding cells
The function is found in the Data section of the Ribbon, then Group.
Example of How to Group in Excel
Let’s look at a simple exercise to see how it works. Suppose we have a schedule in a worksheet that is becoming quite long, and we want to reduce the amount of detail that’s shown. The screenshots below will show you how to properly implement grouping in Excel.
Here are the steps to follow to group rows:
- Select the rows you wish to add grouping to (entire rows, not just individual cells)
- Go to the Data Ribbon
- Select Group
- Select Group again
You can repeat the steps above as many times as you like, and you can also apply it to columns as well.
Once you’re finished, you can press the “-” buttons in the margin to collapse the rows or columns.
If you want to expand them again, press the “+” buttons in the margin, as shown in the screenshot below.
There is also a “1” button in the top left corner to collapse all groups, and a “2” button to expand all groups.
Why You Should Never Hide Cells in Excel
Though many people do it, you should never hide cells in Excel (or spreadsheets either, for that matter). The reason is that Excel does not make it clear to the user of the spreadsheet that cells have been hidden, and thus they may go unnoticed.
The only way to see that cells are hidden is to notice that the row number or column number suddenly jumps (e.g., from row 25 to row 167).
Since other users of the spreadsheet may not notice this (and you may forget yourself) you should never hide cells in Excel.
Download Excel Group Template
You can download the Template for free if you wish to use it as an example or starting point for how to group in Excel and apply it to your own work and financial analysis.
CFI is the official global provider of the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ designation, a leading financial analyst certification program. To continue learning and advancing your career, these additional CFI resources will be helpful: