Section 6.1. Controlling Your View


6.1. Controlling Your View

So far, most of the sample worksheets in this book have included only a small amount of data. But as you expand your real-life data with dozens of columns, and hundreds or even thousands of rows, editing becomes much trickier. The most challenging problems are keeping track of your place in an ocean of information and making sure the data you want stays visible. Double that if you have multiple large worksheets in one workbook.

The following sections introduce the basic tools you can use to view your data, along with a few tips for managing large worksheets.

6.1.1. Zooming

Excel's zoom feature lets you control how much data you see in the window. When you reduce the zoom percentagesay, from 100 percent to 10 percent Excel shrinks your individual cells, letting you see more of them at once, which also makes it harder to read the data. Very small zoom percentages are ideal for looking at the overall layout of a worksheet. When you increase the zoom percentagesay, from 100 percent to 200 percentExcel magnifies your cells, letting you see more detail but fewer cells. Larger zoom percentages are good for editing.


Note: Excel lets you zoom in (enlarge) to 400 percent and zoom out (shrink) all the way down to 10 percent.

You can adjust the zoom for an open worksheet by selecting View Zoom. A Zoom dialog box appears (shown in Figure 6-1) that lets you select a preset zoom percentage or type in your own percentage in the Custom box.

Figure 6-1. The standard zoom setting is 100 percent, although other factors like the size of the font you're using and the size and resolution of your computer screen help determine how many cells fit into Excel's window.


As a rule of thumb, every time you double the zoom, Excel cuts in half the number of rows you can see. So, for example, if you see 20 rows at 100 percent, you see 10 rows at 200 percent.


Note: Changing the zoom affects how your data appears in the Excel window, but it doesn't have any effect on how Excel prints or calculates your data.

Frequent trips to the Zoom dialog box are a hassle. It's faster to use the Zoom control on the Standard toolbar, which looks and behaves like a little menu, as shown in Figure 6-2.

Figure 6-2. If the Zoom control doesn't show up in your Standard toolbar, click the arrow at the far right of the toolbar, and select Show Buttons on Two Rows to have the Standard toolbar appear on top, with the Zoom control at the far right end.


The control lists a handful of percentages you can choose from, or you can just type in your own percentage. To tell Excel to adjust the zoom automatically so your highlighted cells fit perfectly into the whole window, you can select an area and then, on the Zoom control, choose Selection. (You can perform this same trick by highlighting some cells, opening the Zoom dialog box, and choosing "Fit selection.")


Tip: The Zoom control on the toolbar always displays the current zoom percentage.

You can also use the zooming feature to home in on a range of cells. If your data extends beyond the edges of your monitor, this handy option lets you shrink a portion to fit your screen. Conversely, if you've zoomed out to get the bird's eye view of all your data and you want to swoop in on a particular section, this feature also lets you expand a portion to fit your screen.

Here's how it works. First, select the range of cells you want to magnify; then, on the Zoom control, choose Selection to tell Excel to expand the range to fill the entire window (Figure 6-3). (You can also perform this trick by highlighting your cells and then opening the Zoom dialog box (View Zoom) and choosing "Fit selection.").

Figure 6-3. Top: To magnify a range of cells, first select them, as shown here. Then, on the Zoom control (indicated by cursor), choose Selection to have Excel expand the range to fill the entire window.



Tip: If you're using a mouse with a scroll wheel, you can zoom with the wheel. Excel comes with this feature turned off. To turn it on, select Tools Options, and then click the General tab. Turn on "Zoom on roll with Intelli-Mouse (you can choose this option no matter what kind of scroll mouse you're using), and then click OK. Now, when you roll the wheel up, you zoom in, and when you roll the wheel down, you zoom out.

6.1.2. Viewing Distant Parts of a Spreadsheet at Once

Zooming is an excellent way to survey a large expanse of data or focus on just the important cells, but it won't help if you want to simultaneously view cells that aren't near each other. For example, if you want to focus on both row 1 and row 138 at the same time, zooming won't help. Instead, try splitting your Excel window into multiple panesseparate frames that each provide a different view of the same worksheet. You can split a worksheet into two or four panes, depending on how many different parts you want to see at once. When you split a worksheet, each pane contains an identical replica of the entire worksheet. If you make a change to the worksheet in one pane, Excel automatically applies the same change in the other panes. The beauty of panes is that you can look at different parts of the same worksheet at once.

You can split a window horizontally or vertically (or both). If you want to compare different rows in the same worksheet, use a horizontal split. To compare different columns in the same worksheet, use a vertical split. And if you want to be completely crazy and see four different parts of your worksheet at once, you can use a horizontal and a vertical splitbut that's usually too confusing to be much help.

Excel gives you two ways to split the windows. Here's the easy way:

  1. Find the splitter controls on the right side of the screen, shown in Figure 6-4.

    The horizontal splitter control looks like a simple horizontal line located at the far right of the worksheet, just above the top of the vertical scroll bar. The vertical splitter control looks like a simple vertical lineagain, at the far right of the worksheet, but this time, located just to the right of the horizontal scroll bar. If you don't see the scroll bars or splitter controls, maximize your worksheet window (click the box in the upper-right corner of the worksheet itself).

  2. Drag either control to split the window into two panes. As you drag, Excel displays a gray bar showing where it will divide the window. Release the splitter control when you're happy with the layout. (At this point, you don't need to worry about whether you can actually view the data you want to compare; you're simply splitting up the window.)

    Figure 6-4. Every Excel window contains both horizontal and vertical splitter controls you can use to separate your worksheet into panes.

    If you want to split the window into an upper and lower portion, drag the horizontal control down to the location where you want to split the window.

    If you want to split the window into a left and right portion, drag the vertical control left to the location where you want to split the window.


    Note: If for any reason you do want to split the window into four panes, use both controls. The order you follow isn't important.

    If you don't like the layout you've created, simply move the splitter bars by dragging them just as you did before.

  3. Within each pane, scroll to the cells you want to see.

    For example, if you have a 100-row table that you split horizontally in order to compare the top five rows and the bottom five, scroll to the top of the upper pane, and then scroll to the bottom of the lower pane. (The two panes are replicas of each other; Excel is just showing you different parts of the same worksheet.)


    Tip: To move from one pane to the next, click with the mouse, or press F6. To jump backward, press Shift+F6.

    Using the scroll bars in panes can take some getting used to. When Excel splits the window into two panes, it synchronizes scrolling between both panes in one direction. For example, if you split the window into top and bottom halves, Excel gives you just one horizontal scroll bar (at the bottom of the screen), which controls both panes (Figure 6-5). So, for example, when you scroll to the left or right, Excel moves both panes horizontally. On the other hand, Excel gives you separate vertical scroll bars for each pane, letting you independently move up and down within each pane.


    Tip: If you want the data in one panefor example, column titlesto remain in place, you can freeze that pane. The next section tells you how.

    The reverse is true with a vertical split; in this case, you get one vertical scroll bar and two horizontal bars, and Excel synchronizes both panes when you move up or down. With four panes, life gets a little more complicated. In this case, when you scroll left or right, the frame that's just above or just below the current frame moves, too. When you scroll up or down, the frame that's to the left or to the right also moves with you. Try it out.

    Figure 6-5. Here you can see the data in row 1 and 710 at the same time. As you move from column to column, both panes move in synch, letting you see, for instance, the phone number information in both panes at once. (You can scroll up or down separately in each pane.)


    Tip: If you want to remove your panes, you can either drag the splitter bars back to the edges of the window, or choose Window Remove Split.
    Split. When you do, Excel carves the window into four equal panes. You can change the pane sizes as described above, or use Window Remove Split to return to normal.


Note: If you use Excel's worksheet navigation toolslike the Go To and Find commandsall your panes move to the newly found spot. For example, if you use the Find command in one pane to scroll to a new cell, the other panes display the same cell.

6.1.3. Freezing Columns or Rows

Excel has another neat trick up its sleeve to help you manage large worksheets: freezing. Freezing is a simpler way to make sure that a specific set of rows or columns remains visible at all times. When you freeze data, it remains fixed in place in the Excel window, even as you move to another location in the worksheet in a different pane. For example, say you want to keep visible the first row that contains column titles. When you freeze that row, you can always tell what's in each column even when you've scrolled down several screens. Similarly, if your first column holds identifying labels, you may want to freeze it so that when you scroll off to the right, you don't lose track of what you're looking at.


Note: Excel lets you print out worksheets with a particular row or column fixed in place. Section 6.2.2.4 tells you how.

You can freeze rows at the top of your worksheet, or columns at the left of your worksheet, but Excel restricts you in a few ways:

  • You can freeze rows or columns only in groups. That means you can't freeze column A and C without freezing column B. (You can, of course, freeze just one row or column.)

  • You must freeze columns starting from column A on the left side of the worksheet. When freezing rows, you must always start from row 1. This means you can't start freezing columns at, say, G, or rows at, say, 13. However, if the row you want to hold is, for example, the third row, you can freeze it in place at the top of the worksheetyou just won't be able to see the rows above it. Likewise, if you freeze the fifth column, Excel hides the first four.


Note: As far as Excel is concerned, frozen rows and columns are a variation on panes (described earlier). When you freeze data, Excel creates a vertical pane for columns or a horizontal pane for rows. It then fixes that pane so you can't scroll through it.

To freeze a row or set of rows at the top of your worksheet, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the row or rows you want to freeze are visible and at the top of your worksheet.

    For example, if you want to freeze rows 2 and 3 in place, make sure they're visible at the top of your worksheet. Remember, Excel freezes rows starting at row 1. That means that if you scroll down so that row 1 isn't visible and you freeze row 2 and row 3 at the top of your worksheet, Excel also freezes row 1and keeps it hidden so you can't scroll up to see it.

  2. Move to the first row you want unfrozen, and then move left to column A.

    At this point, you're getting into position so that Excel knows where to create the freeze.

  3. Select Window Freeze Panes.

    To unfreeze the rows, just select Window Unfreeze Panes.

Freezing columns works the same way:

  1. Make sure the column or columns you want to freeze are visible and at the left of your worksheet.

    For example, if you want to freeze columns B and C in place, make sure they're visible at the edge of your worksheet. Remember, Excel freezes columns starting at column A. That means that if you scroll over so that column A isn't visible and you freeze columns B and C on the left side of your worksheet, Excel also freezes column Aand keeps it hidden so you can't scroll over to see it.

  2. Move to the first column you want unfrozen, and then move up to row 1.

    At this point, you're getting into position so that Excel knows where to create the freeze.

  3. Select Window Freeze Panes.

    To unfreeze the columns, select Window Unfreeze Panes.


    Freeze Panes.
    Freeze Panes. Excel then automatically freezes the rows above the active cell and the columns to the left of the active cell in separate panes. Figure 6-6 shows an example.

Figure 6-6. Here, Excel has frozen both column A and row 1, so the order IDs and column headings always remain visible.


6.1.4. Hiding Data

In some cases, your problem isn't that you need to keep data visible, but that you need to hide it. For example, you may have a column of numbers that you need only for a calculation but don't want to see when you edit or print the sheet. Excel provides the perfect solution: hiding rows and columns. Hiding doesn't delete information, it just temporarily tucks it out of view, and you can restore hidden information any time you need it.

Technically, hiding a row or column is just a special type of resizing. When you instruct Excel to hide a column, it simply shrinks the column down to a width of 0. Similarly, when you hide a row, Excel compresses the row height.


Note: You can also hide an entire worksheet of data by selecting Format Sheet Hide. See Section 5.1.2 for details.
Column Hide.

  • Row Hide.

  • To unhide a column or row, select the range that includes the hidden cells. For example, if you hid column B, select columns A and C by dragging over the numeric row headers. Then choose Format Column [or Row] Unhide, or just right-click the selection and choose Unhide, to make a column or row visible. Excel then highlights the column or row so you can see at a glance which information youve restored.

    Forgetting that you've hidden data is as easy as forgetting where you put your car keys. While Excel doesn't include a hand-clapper to help you locate your cells, it does offer a few clues. As shown in Figure 6-7, missing column or row headers (a jump from A to, say, O) tell you data's gone missing; so does an extra-thick column border.

    Figure 6-7. This worksheet jumps directly from column A to column O, which tells you that Excel has hidden B through N. If you look carefully, you can spot another telltale sign: the border between the column A and O headers is slightly larger than usual. You can drag this border to resize the hidden column back into view.



    Tip: To unhide all columns (or rows) in a worksheet, select the entire worksheet (by clicking the square in the top-left corner of the grid), and then select Format Column Unhide or Format Row Unhide (depending on whether you hid columns or rows).
    Tip: Excel doesn't let you hide individual cells. However, Excel gurus have figured out a couple of workarounds. The first one is to format the cell so that the text is white (because white lettering on a white background is invisible). Another solution is to format the cell with the custom number format ;;; (which doesn't show anything for positive, negative, or text values; see Excel: The Missing Manual for more on custom formatting). If you use either of these tricks, you can still see the cell content by moving to the cell and looking in the Formula bar.

    6.1.5. Saving View Settings

    If you regularly tweak things like the zoom, visible columns, and the number of panes, you can easily spend more time adjusting your worksheet than editing it. Fortunately, Excel lets you save your view settings with custom views. Custom views let you save a combination of view settings in a workbook. You can store as many custom views as you want. When you want to use a particular view you've created, simply select it from a list and Excel applies your settings.

    Custom views are particularly useful when you frequently switch views for different tasks, like editing and printing. For example, if you like to edit with several panes open and all your data visible, but you like to print your data in one pane with some columns hidden, custom views let you quickly switch between the two layouts.


    Note: You can't save a custom view for one worksheet and apply it to another.

    Custom views can save the following settings:

    • The location of the active cell. (In other words, your position in the worksheet. For example, if you've scrolled to the bottom of a 65,000-row spreadsheet, the custom view returns you to the active cell in a hurry.)

    • The current cell selection

    • Column widths and row heights, including hidden columns and rows.

    • Frozen panes.

    • View settings in the View tab of the Options dialog box. (Choose Tools Options to configure these.)

    • Filter settings, which affect what information Excel shows in a data list (Data lists are covered in Excel: The Missing Manual).

    To create a custom view, follow these steps:

    1. Adjust an open worksheet for your viewing pleasure.

      Set the zoom, hide or freeze columns and rows, and move to the place in the worksheet where you want to edit.

    2. Choose View Custom Views.

      Click the Add button.

      The Add View dialog box appears.

    3. Type in a name for your custom view.

      Technically, you can type in any name you like, but your best bet is a name that reminds you of your view settings (like "50 percent Zoom") or the task you designed this view for (like "All Data at a Glance"). A poor choice is one that won't mean anything to you later ("View One" or "Zoom with a View") or something obscure like "'57 Chevy."

      The Add View dialog box also gives you the chance to specify whether you want print settings or hidden rows and columns (or both) to be included as part of the view. Turn off the appropriate checkboxes if you don't want to retain this information. Say, for example, you hide column A, but you turn off the "Hidden rows, columns, and filter settings" checkbox because you don't want to save this as part of the view. The next time you restore the view, Excel won't make any changes to the visibility of column A. If it's hidden, it stays hidden; if it's visible, it stays visible. On the other hand, if you want column A to always be hidden when you apply your new custom view, keep the "Hidden rows, columns, and filter settings" checkbox turned on when you save it.

      After you've typed your view name and dealt with the inclusion settings, click OK to create your new view. Excel adds your view to the list.

    4. Click Close.

      You're now ready to use your shiny new view or add another (readjust your settings and follow this procedure again).

    Applying your views is a snap. Simply select View Custom Views to return to the Custom Views dialog box (Figure 6-8); then select your view from the list and click Show. Because Excel stores views with the workbook, theyll always be available when you open the file, even if you take that file to another computer.

    Figure 6-8. You can use this dialog box to show or delete existing views or to create new ones.


    If you goof and want to return to Excel's standard view of your worksheet, simply delete your custom view by selecting View Custom Views to display the Custom Views dialog box, choosing the custom view you want to get rid of, and clicking Delete.


    Tip: For some examples of custom views in action, visit www.missingmanuals.com and download CustomViews.xls, a sample spreadsheet with a bunch of custom views already set up.

    6.1.6. Viewing Multiple Workbooks at Once

    In its usual state, Excel lets you view only one open workbook file at a time. If you want to compare two or more workbooks, you have to switch between them using the Windows taskbar. But this action is a pain, especially if you want to compare two worksheets side by side. (For more on workbooks and worksheets, flip to Section 4.3.5.)

    Fortunately, Excel provides a handy tool that lets you place several open workbooks inside one large Excel window, and then save your arrangement. This setup is called a custom workspace. With custom workspaces, you can arrange all the workbooks you need for a particular task the way you like them, and then save that arrangement of windows in a special workspace file. Then, when it's time to get back to work on your project, you simply open the workspace file, and Excel restores all the windows exactly the way you left them.


    Note: You can use a custom workspace to work on different parts of a single workbook at once. However, custom workspaces really come in handy if you need to work on multiples files simultaneously.

    Before you can save your workspace, you must first create it, by following these steps:

    1. Open all the spreadsheet files you want to make part of your workspace by selecting File Open to display the Open dialog box, clicking the name of the file you want to open, and then clicking Open. Close all other Excel files. (To close a file, select File Close.)

      Should you want different worksheets from the same workbook to be part of your workspace, you must open duplicate versions of the workbook. To do so, go to the workbook and select Window New Window. Excel opens a second (or third, or fourth…) window that shows the same workbook. Dont worry, thoughany change you make in one window automatically appears in the others, because there's still just one open workbook. (In fact, the only way you can tell that you have more than one window open for the same workbook is to look at the title bar of the window, which adds a colon and a number. For example, when you open a duplicate version of MyBeanie-Babies.xls, you see the window title MyBeanieBabies.xls:2.)

    2. Select Window Arrange from the menu.

      Choose an Arrange option and click OK.

      • Horizontal, as shown in Figure 6-9, stacks the windows from top to bottom. Excel arranges the windows one above the other, each occupying the full width of the Excel window (similar to when you split a worksheet with the horizontal splitter bar).

      • Vertical instructs Excel to tile the windows from left to right.

      • Tiled arranges the windows in a grid pattern whose composition changes depending on the number of files you're arranging.

      • Cascade layers the windows on top of each other with just a smidge of each window showing.

    If you've opened multiple windows on the same workbook, you can select the "Windows of active workbook" option (located on the Arrange Windows dialog box) to tell Excel to ignore any other open workbooks.

    Figure 6-9. Excel has arranged these spreadsheets horizontally. Book2.xls (as you can tell by the dark window and active cell border) is the active window. To return to the standard, one-file view, just double-click the blue title bar on any window, or click its Maximize button at the right.


    If you'd like to save a particular set of arranged windows, Excel lets you do so by creating a custom workspace. However, unlike a custom view, you can't save custom workspaces inside an individual spreadsheet file. Instead, you must save custom workspaces as separate workspace files. (These files, which use the .xlw file extension, don't actually contain any of the individual spreadsheet file data; all they contain are details about what spreadsheet files you want to see and how you want to see them.) When you open a custom workspace file, Excel automatically loads all the files you were using and returns them to their original locations.

    Once you've completed the above sequence of steps to create your workspace, you can save it any time. Just select File Save Workspace and choose a file name. You open a workspace file in the same way you open a spreadsheet: by choosing File Open from the Excel menu, or by double-clicking the file on your desktop or in Windows Explorer.


    Note: If you ever decide to delete a workspace file, bear in mind that you're deleting only the information about the customized window arrangement. Excel stores the individual spreadsheet files separately.

    Workspaces have two minor quirks you should be aware of:

    • The workspace file stores the location of the Excel files it uses. If you move one of these files somewhere else, the workspace won't be able to find it and load it.

    • If you open a workspace file and then change the window arrangement or open new worksheets, Excel won't prompt you to save the new workspace settings. Instead, you need to explicitly choose File Save Workspace from the menu again.


    Tip: You can use custom workspaces as a shortcut to open multiple files you want to work on at the same timeeven if you don't want to use Excel's window-arranging features. To do so, just open all the files into separate windows, and then save the workspace.



  • Excel for Starters. The Missing Manual
    Excel 2007 for Starters: The Missing Manual
    ISBN: 0596528329
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 85

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