Excel, Sections, and Cell Sizing

Sunday, May 7th, 2006 @ 5:58 pm | Software

Somebody has to have thought of this already…

Seriously, am I missing something here?

Why can’t I have variable height rows or variable width columns in Excel? Why can’t an Excel worksheet have multiple sections?

I’ve been doing a bunch of classwork in Excel lately and the limited cell-sizing options have really been driving me a bit crazy. What I want is the ability to say “Cells A1:C7 are a section and cells A8:C15 are another section.” Then, I want to set the width of columns in the section 1 independent of the columns in section 2 — make column A 75 pixels wide in the first section and only 40 pixels wide in the second section.

Heck, I’d settle for having vertical- or horizontal-only sections: “Rows 1:7 are section one and rows 8:15 are another section.”

I realize this breaks the whole “Spreadsheet-as-grid” paradigm, but there are times when it would be so flipping useful. I want to layout a spreadsheet with input, constraints, and output sections and not have the name column in the first and last sections filled with whitespace because I’ve got a really long constraint name.

This is sort of possible to accomplish with merged cells, but merging cells opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms — if you try to re-arrange stuff later, it seems like your workload is dramatically increased.

Actually, I believe somebody already thought of this like 10 years ago — it looks like Let’s KISS/Spreadsheet 2000 let you lay out your input and output cells on a blank sheet instead of constraining you to a rigid grid. I never had the pleasure of using this application, so I’m not sure if allowed you to do exactly what I wanted, but it seems likely, at least from the screenshots. (Oddly enough, I was thinking about Casady & Greene earlier in the weekend from a completely different reason. Funny how things work sometimes.)

Heh. A MacTech article on the design and writing Spreadsheet 2000. Amusingly, it also mentions the first incarnation Cocoa as an Apple development… thing.

I briefly poked around the Excel 12 development blog to see if something like this was mentioned anywhere, but nothing jumped out at me. I’d be happy if somebody could prove me wrong… or show me how to do this in the current version of Excel.

I mean, seriously. I can’t be the only person who’d find this useful, can I?

Comments are closed.