How to Make Smaller Columns Under the Main Column in Excel

By Contributor

Updated May 08, 2020

You’ll want your financial data in your spreadsheets to look clean, sharp and correctly formatted to ensure that your presentations and printed documents look as professional as possible. You can use Microsoft Office Excel’s formatting features to create the appearance of smaller columns under a main column heading by first populating the smaller columns and then merging the header cells together to create the main column. This will prove especially useful when you need to create tables with subsections.

Click on the "Office" button in Excel and choose the “New” option to create a new blank spreadsheet; or click “Open” to load an existing Excel workbook if you have pre-existing data.

Opening spreadsheet in Excel.

Type the data for your small columns into adjacent columns on the worksheet and leave the first row blank – you will use this to create your main column header.

Adding new data to column in Excel spreadsheet.

Click on the leftmost blank cell of the first row above the data you typed in Step 3 and type your main column header text. For example, if your small columns contain the names of your employees, you could type “Employee Names” in this cell. This should be the cell in line with your first small column.

Typing column name in cell in Excel.

Click on the cell in which you typed the column header text (the first cell above your small columns) and drag your mouse across the row to the last cell above your small columns to select all the cells in the row above your small columns.

Dragging cell across columns in Excel.

Click on the “Home” tab and then click on the drop-down arrow beside the “Merge & Center” icon to display a list of merge options.

Merge & Center options in Excel.

Click on “Merge & Center” or “Merge Across” to create a single cell spanning your small columns. Your column header text will be displayed in this cell, giving the effect of one main column above the smaller columns.

Final results of Merge & Center feature in Excel.