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How to auto outline data in Excel?

When your data in a worksheet is extremely complicated, sometimes it’s even difficult for you to group them manually. In this case, we can group and summarize the data by creating an outline of rows and columns. This tutorial will introduce to you a quick way to auto outline data in Excel.
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Auto outline data in Excel

To auto outline the below data so you can quickly read and analyze the summary rows or columns or display the detailed data for each group, please do as follows:
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1. Go to the Data tab and click Group > Auto Outline.
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2. Now you can see the data is organized into groups and the outline is displayed.
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Now check the minus (-) button or the plus (+) button to collapse or expand the groups of rows and columns. Or click the appropriate outline number symbols to collapse or expand that entire level.
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In the screenshot above, I collapse the rows of sale products in each city and the columns of the specific months in Q1 and Q2.


  1. The Auto Outline feature is so handy, but it has its limitations. To use it, please make sure there is no blank rows or columns in the data.
  2. There should be a summary row or column with formulas for each subset of rows or columns.
  3. When the auto outlined groups are not correctly organized, you should change the style the outline is performed.
    • On the Data tab, click the dialog box launcher, a small arrow in the lower-right corner of the Outline group.
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    • The Settings dialog box pops up, check the Automatic styles box and uncheck the rest of the boxes, then click OK.
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    • After the setting, the data will be correctly auto outlined.

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