200Making things appear and disappear is like magic.  At first it’s child’s play (peek-a-boo, anyone?) and then it’s hide and seek.  Older  kiddos and parents alike enjoy magic tricks that make toys and even bunnies disappear and reappear.

Gguess what?  Data wranglers and changemakers have to do disappearing magic, too!  Sometimes it’s less funny and entertaining, but we have to hide and remove stuff all the time, whether it’s for practical or privacy reasons, or for our own preferences.

Here’s the thing about magic – spreadsheet magic or theatrical magic:  it’s all about practice and slight of hand!  Read on for tips about how to make data appear and disappear, and then open up a spreadsheet and try it out yourself!

Hide and seek


Like many spreadsheet functions, there’s more than one way to hide information.  I think the most common is to hide data by row or by column.  Less common, but sometimes more appropriate, is to use filters to hide rows that are temporarily irrelevant.  For example, you might only want to see contacts who showed up at your most recent meeting, or signed your petition.  Filters are a great way to do that!  If you’re using filters, make sure you remember to remove them eventually, or else your data can become misleading!

What’s behind cell C4?


Let’s say you want to keep a column but hide the content.  Maybe this is because the data are confidential.  You can actually make cells appear invisible, even if there are letters or numbers typed in.  Sounds like magic, right?

Select the column or the cells that you want to “hide.”  Type CTRL + Shift + F to open the Font dialogue box.  Select the “Number” tab.  Type in “;;;.”  Now, your data will disappear unless you click on the cell.  You can still see the data in the preview bar (top of the screen) but the cell itself will appear empty.  Abracadabra!

Peek-a-boo, Sheets edition

81v2bytsg2-lSheets has some special applications for people who need to hide and restrict access to some information, but share other information.  For example, there are ways to hide sheets (Excel lets you hide sheets/tabs, too), or there are ways to filter access to people *by tab* within a larger Google Sheet.  This is a more complex solution, but it’s gotten a lot of play time on different spreadsheet blogs and tutorials that I like, so it’s worth including here!  Did you know you can even share a file and set an expiration date? (only in some versions of google docs, but still, COOL!).

Google sheets excels (HAHA GET IT) as a collaboration tool.  But the downside of that is when multiple users are trying to sort and filter data at the same time, but in different ways.  Who’s request wins?  It can turn into some mayhem.  So that’s why GDocs came out with “Filter Views” which has the added bonus of letting you save save filter combos that you use over and over again.  Check out this great feature!  I think it could really come in handy for fundraising, phonebanking, and more!

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