Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Easy Value Hiding.

Easy Value Hiding

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 2, 2016)


Excel provides many different ways to hide the content of your workbooks. Perhaps one of the easiest (and most novel) ways is to use the custom formatting feature of the program. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells whose content you want to hide.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Number group. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Number tab is displayed.
  5. In the list of format categories, select Custom. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  7. In the Type box, enter three semicolons (;;;).
  8. Click on OK.

Now the information in the cell is not visible, nor will it print. You can, however, see the information in the Formula Bar, and it can be overwritten if you enter anything else in the cell.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6122) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Easy Value Hiding.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 1 + 5?

2015-08-13 15:47:54

Kim Wennerberg

I find this useful because by its very nature, Excel is both a data tool and a data display tool. Sometimes I want data to be there, but not have it visible. I have used color font = color of fill previously, but this is nicer.

2013-09-27 06:36:35

Shravan Kumar Yadav

Tips is amazing to me. But what is its use.

2013-07-08 09:30:11


This is really clever, though I can't think of a reason you would ever need to use it.

2013-07-06 22:40:13

Vicki Murray

If it is just one item, go to the cell that has a title in it (e,g,: cell A1) and change the custom format as shown but after the 3 semi-colons, enter the text for the header. No matter what the value of the cell is, it will read your header.
Take it one set further. Go to the "protection" tab (shown above), click "Hidden" and and "Lock" if desired to lock in the value. Then protect or lock the spreadsheet. Now the value of the cell can't be seen. If you calculate on the cell, it looks like you are operating on a text.

2013-07-06 13:17:48

Walter Antoku

I just usually change the font to "white", assuming I'm printing to a white background.

2013-07-06 09:26:07

Mohammad Al khalidy

Thank you, very nice tip,
By the way, i used to display the zero values as -, using ##,#;-##,#;"-"

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