Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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 November 3, 2018)

6

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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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 two more than 3?

2019-02-03 04:46:38

Peter Atherton

Further to Denis Costello's comment

'There was a time I could point you to the Excel user's manual available as a help file, but the newer versions of Excel offer this only as online web pages, and by comparison to the old manuals, they really suck.'

I still have XL2007 on my computer and sometimes use that to search for help.


2019-02-02 11:58:52

Dennis Costello

To amplify on Roy's explanation, there are 4 fields in Excel's custom number format, separated by the semicolons. These are, respectively, the format that will be applied to Positive values, Negative values, Zero values, and Text values. The details of what you might put into each of these sections is explained in https://exceljet.net/custom-number-formats - or no doubt an excellent article here that you could find through the Search ExcepTips.

There was a time I could point you to the Excel user's manual available as a help file, but the newer versions of Excel offer this only as online web pages, and by comparison to the old manuals, they really suck.


2018-11-05 10:14:02

Roy

Richard::

In this context, he semi-colon has no meaning to the date format itself.

It is a separator for the four formats described by the material between the semi-colons.

As to "what" is between the semi-colons, it is "nothing"... which is telling Excel to display... "nothing"...

They are just separators with separating the four nothings — four "no formats" and therefore no display whether the result be positive;negative;zero;text.


2018-11-05 05:24:53

Richard

What does a semi-colon mean in this context?


2018-11-03 08:42:42

Deane

I have often wondered why Excel doesn’t list a standard format called ‘Hide’ that did this automatically.

What would be even handier would be an ‘Unhide’ format that would revert to the format that was there before the hide.


2018-11-03 06:01:13

Barry

Another way is to set the text colour to white (or the same colour as the cell fill if it's not white). But this is easily defeated by the User.

Note the value is still visible in the Formula Bar so you can either hide the formula bar (which can easily be turned on by the user) or set the "Hidden" parameter for the cell in question then set a password which is not so easily defeated by the User. This Protection can also be used to stop the User from changing the ";;;" cell formatting or changing the value in the cell as well.


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