Excel QuickTip: Change Excel’s Outline Settings

by Mark Wong on April 4, 2010 · 24 comments

in Excel

I’ve never liked Excel’s default setting for its outline button structure.   If you notice from the example below, the default setting puts the outline button below your summary rows.

Visually, I don’t think this is intuitive.  I prefer to see the outline button above the summary rows.  Making this change is very simple.  First look for the Outline menu in the Data tab of the ribbon.  Click its expand button in the lower right corner to see the full menu.

Once you are in the menu, uncheck the box for “Summary rows below detail” and click OK.

Now the outline button will be above your summary rows.  Done.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

CNA LicenseNo Gravatar May 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

What a great resource!

AshvynNo Gravatar September 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

Exactly the issue I was looking for. I was looking for two issues actually:
1. The issue that you really beautifully resolved here with screenshots. You write just like a Technical Writer, which I also happen to be.
2. Another trick I’m looking for is to have the Plus sign inside the worksheet on a cell just to the left of the data. The trick is supposed to achieve that without using Pivot Table. Supposedly, the trick to perform the same is to use Macros. Do guide me if you can. Thanks in advance.

RyanNo Gravatar March 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

What a sneaky place to hide that option! Thanks for the tip, just made my life much easier.

ZhandosNo Gravatar April 9, 2013 at 6:31 am

Thank you.

JasonNo Gravatar May 17, 2013 at 3:27 am

Really helpful, thnx

TVENo Gravatar September 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Great tip. Do you also happen to know how I can increase the size of the outline. I’ve got an excel file that shows such a outline level [1] and [2] sooo small that it is hard to read, and impossile to click. help is welcome 🙂

LuisNo Gravatar September 20, 2013 at 6:35 am

Exaclly what I needed.
Thank you for taking the time to post this tip.

KarthickNo Gravatar November 12, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Thank you so much. This solution really helped me…….

Rob DaviesNo Gravatar January 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I understand how to change the summary row from below to above the data. But is it possible to make this the default setting?

TechieNo Gravatar January 29, 2014 at 10:37 am

Thank you so much, works great for me

azharNo Gravatar March 4, 2014 at 4:44 am

What is the maximum number of nested outlines that I can create.

My outlines are enclosed one into the other.
e.g. If you click ‘+’ you can see another ‘+’ enclosed.
So I am able to create only 8 levels of outline.

How can I increase number of outlines

kshNo Gravatar July 24, 2014 at 2:55 am

Thank you!!!

RahulNo Gravatar August 26, 2014 at 6:45 am

I knew this already. What I actually have been searching for (like Rob Davies) is a way to change the default setting, so that I don’t have to go through the trouble of these steps for every new spreadsheet. I’m a bit amazed that MS has put out such an un-intuitive default setting for outline and more importantly, at the lack of an easy way to change that default setting (if at all there is a way to change it!)

DivyaNo Gravatar October 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

Thank You So Much..i was struggling find the solution from past two days..this info really helped me..thanks a lot…:)

DaLekeyNo Gravatar May 20, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Is there a way to customize the outline level below the cell name tab to display what level of the data that clicking either the “1”, “2”…..”8″ reveals?

StevenBNo Gravatar July 27, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Perfect! Works exactly the way I want. As usual, easy to do, hard to find out how. Thank you!

IsabelNo Gravatar August 20, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Thank you so so much!!

VFSNo Gravatar September 3, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Thanks alot!

EHSANNo Gravatar June 22, 2016 at 9:16 am


EhsanNo Gravatar July 12, 2016 at 7:33 am

Thank you very much

AliceNo Gravatar August 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for this, it’s exactly what I needed – I seem to be having problems doing this with data that is formatted as a table. Do you know if this is not possible for data like this?

HelenNo Gravatar March 10, 2017 at 11:52 am

Great Tip – Thank you !!

WysteriaNo Gravatar August 31, 2017 at 10:51 am

You are great! thanks.. they should also made secret hidden compartment.

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