Thursday, February 25, 2016

Merging Columns in Multiple Sets of Rows in Excel with a Single Command

Watch our video on YouTube to see how columns can be merged for multiple rows in Excel at once.

Working with Excel spreadsheets can help you organize events, process financials, create fantastic to-do lists and much more. Different types of spreadsheets require different information and can take time to build. Regardless of the information represented, an important aspect of a list's effectiveness is the way it is presented with its corresponding headings. A helpful way to clearly connect information from multiple columns or rows with its heading is to merge columns so it is obvious what information belongs to each heading. This post covers how to merge columns in multiple rows at the same time.  

In my daily life I have used spreadsheets to track gifts I have purchased for holidays, finances and household duties, the subject of each chapter in a book, health issues, the progress of a project, iterations of a website, exercise and fitness, summarize daily plans when traveling, formulate project ideas, create cost analysis between different companies, display house-sitting responsibilities, compare products and services, and more. What makes Excel a great program for these and many other topics is its versatility, ease when customizing, strength in sorting, and ability to quickly create charts.

In this example a list of household duties is used to show how merging columns can make the information in the spreadsheet easier to understand. First, here is a small list of items broken out in different periods of time throughout a year.

With the information presented as in the chart above, it can be confusing to anyone who did not create it. Items not in weekly or monthly categories are somewhat lost in this setup.  However, merging some cells so the information is presented in the finished image below makes the information much easier to follow.

To merge columns in multiple rows at the same time:
  • Select the columns to merge beginning with the top left cell.
  • Holding the cursor, drag it to the right to the last column to merge with and then down to represent the last row to merge columns.

  • From the Home tab, click on the arrow to the right of "Merge & Center" in the Alignment section. Select "Merge Across" from the drop down menu to merge the columns across all rows selected.

  • The result shows that the six columns highlighted were merged across the four rows selected.

  • Repeat this process as necessary to merge columns in multiple sets of rows at the same time until headings and their corresponding information are easy to follow.
  • In this example, the spreadsheet looks like this when done:

Using Excel is a great way to organize ideas, track inventory and financial data, and many other items. However Excel is used, it is helpful to have the information displayed in a way in which the information is easily matched up with its respective heading. Merging columns makes information easier to convey, but merging columns for rows one at a time is tedious. Instead, merging columns in multiple sets of rows at the same time is a more efficient means of ensuring the information tracked is being conveyed in a way anyone viewing the spreadsheet can understand.

As always, having a faster way to accomplish the same thing is helpful!

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