Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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 June 11, 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, and 2016. 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Putting a Bullet in the Middle of a Sentence

Need a special character (such as a bullet) in the middle of your text? Here are two quick ways to enter the character ...

Discover More

Spell Checking Your Worksheet

One of the indicators of a well-done worksheet is if there are any spelling errors within it. Excel allows you to easily ...

Discover More

Sorting Dates Numerically

How you sort dates depends, in large part, on how they are formatted. This tip examines a very specific date format ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Saving Custom Formats

While the implementation of custom formats in Excel is not terribly robust, you can still achieve some amazing results ...

Discover More

Using a Custom Format to Add Dashes

Want some dashes automatically added in values you display in a cell? It may be trickier to develop a custom format than ...

Discover More

Understanding Color and Conditional Formatting Codes

When you create custom cell formats, you can include codes that allow you to set the color of a cell and that specify the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 4?

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

Bryan

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 ##,#;-##,#;"-"


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.