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: Unhiding Columns that are Persistently Hidden.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 13, 2016)
Jo has a co-worker who has adjusted a mutually used sheet so that columns A and B are not visible. However, they are visible on print preview and they do print out. Jo has tried unhiding them to no avail, even copying the columns and pasting them into empty columns inserted at columns C and D. However, as soon as Jo deleted the now-redundant columns A and B, the information disappeared again.
There could be several things that need to be checked with the worksheet. First, you'll want to check to make sure that the columns aren't being hidden by some macro running in the background. For instance, there could be a macro associated with an event handler, and the macro does the hiding. (Imagine a macro that hides columns A and B whenever you move from one cell to another or change a value.) The only way to fix such an issue is to either delete or edit the macro.
It is also possible that you aren't really looking at the workbook, but are looking at a custom view. These views can be set up so that certain columns are always hidden, and yet they print just fine. Check the worksheet to see if there are any custom views defined, and if that is what you are viewing.
You might also want to check to make sure that the columns are set to a visible width. It is possible that they aren't really hidden, but set to some very small width value. Selecting the columns and modifying the width to something larger should fix this problem. (To select the columns if you can't see them, press F5 to display the Go To dialog box and then specify you want to go to A:B.)
One of the most common ways to "hide" columns without really hiding them is to freeze the panes. If you freeze the panes vertically with some of the columns off the screen (in this case columns A and B), then those columns remain "frozen" off the screen and you can't get them back without unfreezing the panes.
If the columns still can't be displayed, there are still two options left. First, ask the co-worker what is going on. If the condition genuinely originated with this person, then he or she should be able to explain what is going on. Second, you may need to recreate the workbook. Copy the information from the original worksheet to a new workbook (don't copy the worksheet, just the information), where you should be able to use it with no problem.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12353) 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: Unhiding Columns that are Persistently Hidden.
Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!
Want to hide a column so it doesn't appear in the worksheet? It's easy to do using the formatting capabilities of Excel.Discover More
If you open a workbook and find that the width of some of your columns has been changed, the discovery can be ...Discover More
Want to automatically hide some columns that don't meet a date criteria that you set? You can't do it automatically, but ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.