Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Hiding Outline Symbols.

Hiding Outline Symbols

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 25, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Once you go through the process of outlining your data, you may want to hide the outline symbols that Excel normally displays at the left of the worksheet area. These symbols are helpful as you are working with the data but may be distracting if you are presenting the data to others. To turn off the symbols, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the available options until you get to the Display Options for This Worksheet group. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options of the Excel Options dialog box.

  5. Clear the Show Outline Symbols if an Outline is Applied check box.
  6. Click on OK.

To again display the symbols, follow the same steps, but make sure the Show Outline Symbols check box is selected.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9269) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Hiding Outline Symbols.

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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