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Excel Auto Outline

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Using the Excel Outline Feature to Automatically Outline Data

Excel Auto Outline

Download Automatic Outlining example workbook. See Also: Enable Outlining/Grouping on a Protected Sheet

Outlining is a means of viewing levels of detail as required by collapsing or expanding to hide or show information. You can identify subtotals and hide or collapse detail so that only subtotals appear on the screen. Outlining will also allow you to make detail data disappear so that only the higher level subtotals remain visible when you are using larger worksheets. An outlined Worksheet will print exactly as it appears on the screen. This makes Outlining an extremely useful presentation tool.

There are two types of Outlining; Automatic Outlining, which you would use when you have used functions to summarise your data and Manual Outlining which is used when your data does not contain functions, but instead contains values only.

Automatic Outline

You could use an Automatic Outline for numeric data organised into specific groups, just like in the following screen shot for a Sports Equipment Store Expenditure:

Excel Before Outline

To create an Automatic Outline, follow these steps:

  1. Click inside your data
  2. Go to Data>Group and Outline>AutoOutline

When you Outline a worksheet, buttons will appear around the rows and/or columns that have been outlined. Buttons with the numbers 1, 2, 3 indicate an outlining level. These buttons can be clicked on to expand or collapse all summary levels to that level. You will also notice the collapse button (-) and an expand (+) button. The collapse button will indicate that the associated summary level has been expanded to show the detail levels. Click the button and you will collapse that summary level and hide the detail levels. The expand button works in the same way. It indicates that the associated summary level has been collapsed to hide the detail levels. When clicked, this button will expand the summary level and display the detail levels.

Following is a screen shot of the Sports Equipment Store Expenditure data with an Automatic Outline applied.

Excel Outline

To clear an Automatic Outline, go to Data>Group and Outline>Clear Outline.

If the Automatic Outline created does not suit your requirements, you may need to use a Manual Outline and create your own sub-groups.

Click here to learn about Manual Excel Outlining

Download Automatic Outlining example workbook

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