How to Group Columns in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Grouping columns in Excel can help you manage and organize large data sets by allowing you to collapse and expand sections of your worksheet. This makes it easier to navigate and focus on specific parts of your data. In just a few steps, you can quickly and efficiently group columns to streamline your workflow.

How to Group Columns in Excel

Ready to tidy up your spreadsheet? Follow these steps to group columns in Excel and make your data more manageable.

Step 1: Select the Columns You Want to Group

Click and drag over the column letters at the top of your worksheet to highlight the columns you want to group.

Ensure that you select only the columns you want to group together. This will help avoid confusion later on.

Step 2: Go to the Data Tab

Navigate to the “Data” tab on the Excel ribbon at the top of your screen.

Once you’re there, you’ll be able to access various data management tools, including grouping options.

Step 3: Click on the Group Button

In the "Outline" section of the Data tab, click on the “Group” button.

This button will instantly group the selected columns, making them collapsible.

Step 4: Adjust the Group Settings

After grouping, you can fine-tune the grouping by clicking the small box that appears above the grouped columns.

This allows you to collapse or expand the columns, depending on what you need to view at the moment.

Step 5: Save Your Worksheet

Don’t forget to save your work! Click on the “Save” button or use the shortcut (Ctrl + S).

Saving ensures that your grouped columns are preserved for future use, avoiding the hassle of having to redo your work.

After completing these steps, your columns will be grouped, making your spreadsheet easier to read and navigate. You can collapse or expand the grouped columns as needed, giving you more control over your data display.

Tips for Grouping Columns in Excel

  1. Plan Your Grouping: Think ahead about which columns will benefit the most from being grouped together.
  2. Use Shortcuts: Learn Excel shortcuts to speed up the process, like Alt + Shift + Right Arrow for creating a group.
  3. Stay Organized: Label your grouped columns clearly so you know what data is in each group.
  4. Practice: Spend some time practicing grouping and ungrouping columns to become more efficient.
  5. Undo Mistakes: Use Ctrl + Z to undo any mistakes you make while grouping columns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I group non-adjacent columns?

No, Excel only allows you to group adjacent columns. You’ll need to rearrange your data if you want to group non-adjacent columns.

How do I ungroup columns?

Select the grouped columns, go to the Data tab, and click on the “Ungroup” button in the Outline section.

Can I group both rows and columns?

Yes, you can group both rows and columns in Excel. The process for grouping rows is similar to grouping columns.

Will grouping columns affect my formulas?

No, grouping columns won’t affect your formulas. They will still calculate as expected.

Can I create nested groups in Excel?

Yes, you can create nested groups. Just repeat the grouping steps within an already grouped section to create subgroups.


  1. Select the columns you want to group.
  2. Go to the Data tab.
  3. Click on the Group button.
  4. Adjust the group settings.
  5. Save your worksheet.


Grouping columns in Excel is a powerful way to organize and manage your data. This simple feature allows you to collapse and expand sections of your worksheet, making it easier to focus on the information that matters most. Whether you’re dealing with large datasets or just looking to tidy up your spreadsheet, knowing how to group columns can be a real game-changer.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you use this feature, the more intuitive it will become. So go ahead, give it a try, and see how much more manageable your Excel spreadsheets can be. Happy organizing!

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