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Difference between Row and Column

Updated Jan 21, 2020

Microsoft Excel is one of the most popular spreadsheet programs in the world. People have been using it for the last 30 years for handling data. Almost all data related tasks can be achieved through Excel.

Excel offers small to large businesses the tools to manage their financial information. It is used for number crunching, performing calculations, representing data through graphs and charts, etc.

MS Excel file consists of one or more worksheets. Each worksheet includes cells where you can store your data. The fundamental component of any sheet are rows and columns.

Column vs. Row

Head to Head Comparison

Basis of comparison Row Column
Arrangement They go horizontally across the spreadsheet. They are spread from left to right. So, if anything is written in column A, B, C or D, the data is said to be in Row 1 They go vertically across the spreadsheet. They are spread from top to bottom. If data is written in A1, A2 or A3, it is all within column A
Indication The rows are indicated by the numbers located on the left of the sheet The columns are indicated by the numbers found on the top of the sheet
In databases They have various data fields in databases They consist of a single data attribute
Table component In a table, the stub present on the left side of the table defines the rows. The top section of a table called caption is called the column.
Lookup function The H lookup function is used to compare data between rows. The V lookup function is used to compare data between columns
Selection For selecting an entire row, click on any cell in the row and hit Shift and the Spacebar For choosing a whole column, click on any cell in the column and hit Ctrl and the Spacebar
Hiding rows and columns To hide rows, after selecting rows to hide, right-click on them and choose the Hide option To hide columns, after picking columns to hide, right-click on them and select Hide option
To Freeze To freeze a row, Press the Alt key along with W+F+R To freeze a column, Press the Alt key along with W+F+C

What is a Row in MS Excel?

In Excel, a set of horizontal cells is called a row. You will find them in any Excel worksheet. These horizontal rows are numbered from 1 to 1048576. By clicking on the row number, you can select any row. These numbers are marked on the left side of the worksheet.

The entire row can be selected by clicking on the headings of the rows. These headings determine the address of a particular cell. For example, the first cell of the worksheet will be labeled as A1. This means that it belongs to row number 1 and column number A.

To access the last row of a worksheet, press the Ctrl key and the down arrow key.

ROWS Function

The ROWS function is essential in MS Excel for counting rows. The function returns the number of rows within a given cell reference. It has the following syntax:

=ROWS (array)

Here array is the range of cells among which you want the count of rows. For example,

=ROWS (A 1: A5) will return 5 as there are 5 rows between cell number A1 and A5.

What is a Column in MS Excel?

A set of cells running vertically across the worksheet or a table are called columns in Excel. They are named after alphabets. They start from A and go up to XFD. The total number of columns is 16384. You can identify the column using the column header on top of the column.

A unique technique names these columns. They differ in their names after ending at Z, starting from the letter A. Then, the next column is called AA, AB, AC, and up to AZ. The other columns are named the same way.

You can select any column by clicking on the column header.

To access the last column of a worksheet, press the Ctrl key and the right arrow key.

COLUMN Function

The COLUMN function is used to determine the column number for any given reference. It has the following syntax:

= COLUMN ([reference])

Here the reference is a given cell or a range of cells. For example,

= COLUMN (C2) will return a value 2 as C is the third column in the worksheet. In case you do not provide any reference, the function will return the column number of the cell that has the formula.


For storing data, rows, and columns are essential components of a table or spreadsheet. They are vital for distributing any set of data accurately according to their attributes. In database management systems, the rows are called records. They contain data fields.

But the columns are referred to as fields having multiple characters. You can use many useful functions like H Lookup, V Lookup, Index, Match, Offset, and Sum to handle your data. All these will make use of the rows and columns in your worksheet.

So, to work with your data in MS Excel, you need to understand the basics of rows and columns. This will help you tackle more advanced Excel functions later on.