Filtering Columns

Mayur knows that he can use Excel’s filtering capabilities to select which rows in a data table are displayed, but wonders if there is a way to filter by column. In other words, he can now filter vertically, but he would like to filter his data horizontally.

The short answer is that there isn’t a way. Excel, when used to store data, follows a database paradigm that equates rows with records and columns with fields in each record. Classical filtering is done by examining values in columns (fields) and thereby determining which rows (records) should be displayed based on what is found there.

The easiest way to filter your data the way you want is to transpose it before filtering. Copy all your data (select it and press Ctrl+C), and then on a different worksheet use the Transpose option of Paste Special. You can display this dialog box by starting at the Home tab of the ribbon, clicking the down-arrow under the Paste tool, and then choosing Paste Special.

Once your data is transposed (rows become columns and columns become rows), you can then use Excel’s built-in filtering tools as you normally would.

If you prefer to not transpose your data, you will need to resort to less automatic solutions. For instance, you could manually figure out which columns you want to hide (“filter out”) and then actually hide those columns. When you are done hiding all the columns you want hidden, you could define a custom view (as described in other ExcelTips) to save how the worksheet appears.

Finally, you could always create a PivotTable from your data. You can then, in the PivotTable, use the filtering tools to determine what data is shown in the table. The tools there will work on both row fields and column fields.