Excel Row and Column Headings (An Ultimate Guide)

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In this article, you will learn about Excel row and column headings in detail. We’ll show how you can show and hide these headings, convert the column heading from letter to number, and customize the headings. You will get to know about creating cell references from the row and column headings and print them on the page also.

Also, you will make the top row as the header row and make use of it in the time of printing a long worksheet.

With the knowledge from this tutorial, you can refer to specific cells within a worksheet for calculations, formulas, and other operations. So, let’s explore the entire article accordingly.

excel row and column headings

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Introduction to Excel Row and Column Headings

In Excel, row and column headings are like labels or names for the rows and columns in a worksheet. They help us find and work with data more easily in the spreadsheet.

Row headings are the numbers on the left side of the worksheet. They start with “1” and go up as we move down. Each row has its own number, like 1, 2, 3, and so on. These numbers help us identify and locate specific rows when we’re working with our data.

Column headings are the letters at the top of the worksheet. They start with “A” and go in alphabetical order as we move to the right.

row and column headings in Excel

So, row and column headings act like signposts that help us navigate and refer to different parts of our spreadsheet. They make it easier to understand and work with our data, whether we’re entering information, doing calculations, or organizing our worksheets.

Cell Reference Styles with Row and Column Headings in Excel

To create a cell reference, we combine the column letter and row number of a cell.

  • Here, we selected the cell having the value of 25 as highlighted in the following image. This cell refers to Column D and Row 10. So, the cell reference is D10. You can see the cell reference in the Name Box at the left top corner of the following image.

determining cell reference in A1 style from excel row and column headings

In the case of the R1C1 reference style, the row number gets followed by the column number.

  • Select the same cell (with a value of 25) as we did before. This cell is positioned in Row 10 and Column 4. So in this rule, the cell reference becomes R10C4.

determining cell reference in R1C1 style from excel row and column headings

Toggling Row and Column Headings On or Off in Excel

We can easily hide and unhide the headings if we want.

  • Navigate to the View tab and uncheck the box of Headings.

headings option is checked

  • You can see the headings are not shown now in the worksheet.

excel row and column headings aren't visible now

Again, you can check the Headings option to bring it back on.

Read More: How to Rename Column in Excel

Convert Column Headers from Letters to Numbers and Vice Versa

  • Go to the File tab.

going to the File tab

  • At the bottom, click on Options.

clicking on options

  • In the Excel Options dialog box, go to the Formulas tab on the left side panel.
  • Check the box of R1C1 reference style under the Working with formulas section and click OK.

working on Excel Options dialog box

Look, the letters get converted to numbers in the column headings.

column headings are converted to numbers from letters

Again, you can uncheck the box of R1C1 reference style to undo this.

Note: This action can’t be undone by clicking CTRL + Z.

Modify Default Font Style in Row and Column Headings in Excel

  • First, move to the Home tab.
  • Right-click on Normal on the Style group of commands.
  • From the context menu, click on Modify….

modifying the default font style

  • Tap the Format button in the Style dialog box.

Format button in style dialog box

  • Instantly, it’ll open the Format Cells dialog box.
  • Go to the Font tab and select the Font and Font style you prefer.
  • After that, click OK.

changing font, font style and size in format cells dialog box

  • Again, click OK in the Style dialog box.

clicking OK button

Look, the default font gets changed in the headings.

excel row and column headings get changed

Read More: How to Title a Column in Excel

Print Row and Column Headings in Excel

  • Advance to the Page Layout tab.
  • In the Sheet Options group, you can see two options: View and Print. The first one is checked and the second one is unchecked by default.

Print option is unchecked in sheet options

  • Press CTRL + P to open the Print options. Here, you can see the Print Preview of the sheet.

You can notice that the headings are not visible in the Print Preview, so it won’t be available while printing on paper.

row and column headings are unavailable in print

  • Again, in the Page Layout tab, check the box of Print option.

Print option is checked in sheet options

  • Now, press CTRL + P and see the magic. Row and column headings will be printed also.

Excel row and column headings are available in print

Read More: Keep Row Headings When Scrolling Without Freeze

How to Establish Top Row as Header Row in Excel

1. Use Print Title Option

  • Click on Page Layout >> Print Titles.

Clicking on Print Titles in Page layout tab

  • In the Page Setup dialog box, you will get the Sheet tab opened by default.
  • Give the cell reference A1:G55 in the Print area box and Row 4 in the Rows to repeat at top box.
  • Click the Print Preview option.

working on page setup dialog box in excel

This is the first page. Here, you can’t get the significance. The real magic happens on the next page.

1st page of print

Row 4 is visible here also as the header on the 2nd page. If the dataset were longer than this, the same row will repeat as the header on the next pages also.

header row is printed in the second page also

2. Utilize Freeze Panes

  • Click on the heading number of Row 5.
  • Then go to View >> Freeze Panes dropdown >> Freeze Panes option.

using freeze panes option to make header row

Look, after scrolling down on the worksheet, the header row is still visible on the display.

header row is motionless while scrolling

3. Format Dataset as Table

  • Select cell B5.
  • Go to the Home tab. Click on the Format as Table dropdown and choose the Light Blue, Table Style Light 2 table style from the Light section.

formatting dataset as table

  • In the Create Table dialog box, the range is selected automatically. Just click OK.

creating table in excel

The data range is converted to a table now.

data range converted to table in excel

  • Now, click on any cell inside the table and navigate through the worksheet by scrolling down. You can see the headers in the highlighted place like the following image.

column headers are visible in place of column headings in excel

Read More: Create Table with Row and Column Headers

Things to Remember

  • You can toggle on or off the row and column headings for a specific sheet by using the Advanced tab on Excel Options.
  • The R1C1 reference style in Excel offers several advantages, particularly when working with formulas and writing VBA code for macros.
  • In Excel, the default Font is Calibri 11 pt. But you can change it if you wish.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I use row and column headings for referencing cells?

To reference a cell using row and column headings, combine the appropriate row number and column letter. For example, A1 refers to the cell in Column A and Row 1.

2. Can row and column headings be customized in Excel?

Yes, you can customize row and column headings in Excel by changing the font style, size, or color to suit your preferences or improve readability.

3. Do row and column headings move when scrolling in Excel?

No, row and column headings remain fixed in their positions as you scroll through a worksheet. They are always visible and provide context for the data being viewed.

Excel Row and Column Headings: Knowledge Hub


In conclusion, we tried to enclose the article with a detailed view, modification, and usage of Excel row and column headings. Use these approaches and tips in your practices.

That’s all for today. Hope you will find it helpful. Please share any further queries or recommendations with us in the comments section below. Please visit our website ExcelDemy to explore more.

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Shahriar Abrar Rafid
Shahriar Abrar Rafid

Shahriar Abrar Rafid, BSc, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh, has worked with the ExcelDemy project for more than 1 year. He has written over 100+ articles for ExcelDemy. He is a professional visual content developer adept at crafting scripts, meticulously editing Excel files, and delivering insightful video tutorials for YouTube channels. His work and learning interests vary from Microsoft Office Suites and Excel to Data Analysis, VBA, and Video recording and... Read Full Bio

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