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How to start row numbering at 0 instead of 1 in Excel?

Author: Kelly Last Modified: 2019-10-17

As you know, the row heading starts at 1 by default in Excel, and users are not allowed to change the starting number of the row heading at all. But in some cases, you may enter your data header in the first row, and want to number the rows skipping the data header. Any idea? This article shares a roundabout workaround to solve the problem.

Start row numbering at 0 instead of 1 in Excel


Start row numbering at 0 instead of 1 in Excel

This method will guide you to force the row heading to start at 0 instead of 1 in Excel. Please do as follows:

1. Create a new worksheet in your workbook.

2. In the new worksheet, select the Cell A2, enter the formula =ROW()-2, and drag the AutoFill handle down as many cells as possible.

3. In Cell B1, enter the formula =SUBSTITUTE(ADDRESS(1,(COLUMN()-1),4),1,""), and drag the AutoFill handle right as many cells as possible.

4. Select the entire Column A, and format it similar as row heading:
(1) Narrow the column width by clicking Home > Format > Column Width, enter the column width and click the OK button.;
(2) Add Fill color for the column A by clicking Home > Fill Color > Gray-25%, Background 2 (or Light Gray, Background 2, Darker 10%);
(3) Center the cell content by clicking Home > Center (in the Alignment group);
(4) Add borders by clicking Home > Border > All Borders.

5. Select the entire Row 1, and format it similar as column heading:
(1) Fill the column A by clicking Home > Fill Color > Gray-25%, Background 2(or Light Gray, Background 2, Darker 10%);
(2) Center the cell content by clicking Home > Center (in the Alignment group);
(3) Add borders by clicking Home > Border > All Borders.

Now you get a worksheet as below screenshot shown:

6. Now hide the default headings by unticking the Headings option under View tab.

7. Now select the first blank cell below the dummy headings, and click View > Freeze Panes > freeze Panes.
This step will prevent the dummy headings from scrolling when you scroll down or right in the worksheet.

So far, you have created a worksheet whose row heading starts at 0 instead of 1. See screenshot:

Notes:

(1) The cells in the dummy headings are selectable and editable. You can protect the dummy headings range only in the worksheet. Click to know How to lock and protect selected cells in Excel.

(2) When you refer cells in formulas, the cell addresses will not match with the dummy row numbers or column letters.


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Comments (1)
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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Microsoft is overlooking a great opportunity to improve Excel by creating this option (to start a spreadsheet from 1 or 0). This should be available in Configurations.
Your solution is very clever but only a "Fake" spreadsheet, as all the references will still address the hidden real headers...
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