How to Outline an Excel Worksheet

Many Excel worksheets – e.g. Budgets and Sales Reports – can be improved by applying an Outline. With an Outline, you can switch your focus between looking at the “big picture” and examining the details. An outline is especially useful when you are presenting numbers “interactively.” For example, when you are using a Projector and Screen to present Quarterly Sales Results during a meeting.

Outline Commands
Outline Commands

If you have set up your Excel worksheet in a “hierarchical” structure – SUMs at the bottom and to the right of each category, creating an outline is simple:

Create the Outline

  • Select a single cell in the worksheet.
  • On the Data Tab of the Ribbon (Excel 2007) go to Group – Auto Outline.
  • You now see the Outline Symbols “+ and -” above each column and to the left of each row. Depending on your data, you will also see numbers that represent the “level” of Outlining available.

Examine the Formulas

When a client sends me an Excel worksheet, one of the first steps that I take is to find all of the cells that contain formulas. A quick way to do this is with the F5 Keyboard Shortcut. This opens the “Go To” Dialog Box. Choose “Special” and then select “Formulas.” Now, all of the cells that contain Formulas are highlighted. If everything is correctly organized, then I apply the “Auto Outline” command to the worksheet.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Use the Ctrl + 8 keyboard shortcut to “toggle” between Hiding and Displaying the Outline Symbols. This is a great tip to learn – you still have the Outline, but your screen looks cleaner. And … I guarantee that several people in your audience will ask you “How did you do that?”

Custom Views

During the video lesson, I also show you how and why to apply Custom Views to your Outlines. A Custom View allows you to quickly display a different perspectives of your data. Set them up in advance – it is almost like having a PowerPoint slide presentation inside your Excel worksheet outline!

You can watch this Excel video lesson in High Definition, Full Screen mode on my DannyRocksExcels YouTube channel.

Learn how to “Master Excel in Minutes – Not Months!”

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