Ozgrid, Experts in Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets




Lesson 26 - Excel Cell Comments/Cell Comments in Excel



Cell Comments, or notes as they are often called, were first introduced in Excel 97. They are basically the equivalent of sticky notes that have become so popular in offices throughout the world. They allow us to attach a comment to a cell to inform, remind or explain the content of a cell or range of cells. We must stress, however that they shouldn't be used too liberally as not only will they loose their impact but they can cause a file size to increase dramatically. As a rule of thumb we would recommend using no more than 50 or so per Workbook. You would have noticed in lessons 4 and 5 that I used cell Comments to help explain the formulas that resided in the cells they were attached to. As with most features in Excel, there are numerous ways we can insert a cell Comment, the method used is entirely up to the user.

To insert a cell Comment, do one of the following:

  • Right click and select Insert Comment
  • Go to Insert>Comment
  • Push Shift + F2
  • Display the Reviewing Toolbar. Go to View>Toolbars>Reviewing or right click on any visible Toolbar and select Reviewing. Once the Reviewing Toolbar is visible click the first icon on the left (New comment).

Whichever method we use Excel will:

  • Insert the comment into the cell that is active at the time.
  • Place in the user name for the PC being used at the time.
  • Place the mouse insertion point within the comment ready for you to type. This is a cell Comments Edit mode.

The user name of your PC is determined by Excel under the General page tab of the Options dialog box. We can change this by going to Tools>Options and selecting the General page tab and typing whatever we like in the User name box situated at the bottom.

This will not affect any cell Comments that have already been inserted only new ones we insert after making the change.

Let's insert a cell Comment into any cell on any Worksheet using any of the above methods, we prefer the right click method. As mentioned before, you will be in Edit mode so we can simply type any text we like. Once you reach the edge of the cell Comment, Excel will automatically drop us down to the next line. This can also be done at any time by pushing Enter. If you keep typing until you reach the bottom edge of the cell Comment Excel will automatically push the top line out of sight and continue on.

Once you have finished typing and click out of the cell, the comment will automatically do what is known as Hide itself. If the comment is still fully visible you may need to do one or both of the steps below:

In fact it would be a good idea to have the Reviewing Toolbar visible while we go through cell Comments, so show it and then either drag and dock it, or double click the blue title bar. If you prefer you could also leave it as a floating Toolbar.

You will notice that the cell containing the cell Comment has a small red triangle in the top right corner. This is the Comment indicator, or flag as it is sometimes called. This simply lets us know that there is a comment in the cell. To read the comment simply hover your mouse pointer over the cell and it will display the comment. Once you move your mouse pointer away from the cell the comment will hide itself again.

Many books and other literature will tell you that you should select the cell to display a cell Comment and the cell being active is what displays the comment, this not technically true! A simple way to prove this is to click in the cell directly below the cell with the cell Comment, move your mouse pointer away from the cell and use the Up arrow on the keyboard to activate the cell. You will not see the comment until you hover your mouse pointer over the cell.

Edit a Cell Comment

Once we have a comment in a cell we can Edit it in much the same way as we can format a cell and/or it's content. This means we can nominate the type of text, the color of the text and/or the comment itself, its size, its outline and even it's shape.

Most of these can be achieved via the Format Comment dialog box and are self explanatory, so we will only explain the little known ones. However, as with any part of Excel if you would like some detail, you only have to ask!

Ok, the easiest way to Edit a cell Comment is to click in the cell containing the cell Comment, right click and select Edit comment. This will put us in Edit mode, exactly as we were when we first inserted it. The first thing you may notice is the fuzzy outline around the cell Comment and the eight small white boxes or circles (depending on which version of Excel you are using). These white boxes are called the Size handles and are common to all shapes, textboxes, comments and charts etc. All you need to do is hover your mouse pointer over one of them until your mouse pointer changes to an up/down arrow, left click, then drag and release. If you use the Size handles in either corner of the cell Comment the height and width will change in accordance with each other.

Let's now display the Format comment dialog box. To do this, double click on the outer edge, or right click on it and select Format comment. Either way, Excel will display the Format comment dialog box. On this you should see eight page tabs and most of these are purely for visual effect with the exception of Protection and Properties. Protection is will explain is a later lesson. If there is any aspect of this dialog box you would like explained just let us know.

There are a few features of cell Comments that cannot be changed via the Format comment dialog box and these are the shape and 3d effect. For both of these examples you will need to use the Drawing Toolbar. So if it is not visible go to View>Toolbars>Drawing or right click on any toolbar and select Drawing. By default the Drawing toolbar will dock itself at the bottom of your screen.

Change the Shape

Now you will have a comment that has the shape of the AutoShape you chose.

Give a 3d Effect

Now you will have a comment that has the 3-D effect that you have chosen.

Give a Shadow Setting

Now you will have a comment that has the shadow effect you chose.

That is about it for cell Comments, but please ask any questions that you may have. Got any Excel Questions? Free Excel Help

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