Excel Worksheet Navigation Tips

It can be a real pain to find a specific sheet, if an Excel file has lots of worksheets. If I'm making a big file for a client, I'll often colour groups of sheet tabs, to they're easier to find. Then, if you want the admin lists sheets, look for the red group.

Excel Worksheet Navigation Tips http://blog.contextures.com/

Cobbler's Syndrome

For my own workbooks, I usually don't bother, and then end up wasting time, scrolling back and forth, looking for the sheet that I need. It's like the old saying – "The shoemaker's children go barefoot." Apparently I'm not the only one who does stuff like that – it's called Cobbler's Child Syndrome! Are you guilty too?

Apparently AlexJ doesn't suffer from that syndrome, because he sent me a worksheet navigation tip this week, and he uses it in his own files. In addition to creating coloured tab groups, AlexJ puts spacer tabs between the groups, to add some visual separation.

Excel Worksheet Navigation Tips 02

Spacer Tab Benefits and Tips

I played with this idea in one of my Excel sample files, and  additional benefits. For example, it adds spaces in the sheet list that appears when you right-click the Navigation Arrows.

Excel Worksheet Navigation Tips 03

Don't use too many spacer tabs though, because each one will be a little wider than the previous one, due to creating unique names with space characters.

Excel Worksheet Navigation Tips 04

Will You Try This?

To see the details on how AlexJ creates his spacer tabs, and a few additional tips, check out the Excel Worksheet Tips page on my Contextures website.

What do you think about AlexJ's tip?

  • Have you tried something similar in your big Excel files?
  • If not, does this technique look like something you'd be willing to try?

Video: Excel Navigation Tips

This video shows AlexJ's spacer tabs, and a few other tips to make it easier to find a specific sheet in a large workbook.

The sample file that I used in this video is this one: Select Multiple Items from Data Validation Drop Down


Excel Worksheet Navigation Tips  http://blog.contextures.com/

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6 Responses

  1. derek says:

    You can have single numerals, that are almost as unobtrusive as a space, and you can have nine or ten of them before they have to get bigger, unless you want to move on to single letters or symbols.

    The real visual impact of the spacer is mostly in the contrast between coloured and the white tabs in the tab bar, and between the short and the long names in the sheet list.

  2. Matthew Kuo says:

    I’ve never used spacers before, but I’m still relatively new to the 2013 version of Excel. I’ll definitely give it try. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Henryk says:

    Great Tips! I`ll try it with my files with many worksheets. I`m sure you`ve just saved a bunch of wasted minutes in future searching for the right page in excel file. Thank you

  4. Pedro says:

    Great tip! We have workbooks that are huge and contain many sheets, so these tips will come in very handy! Maybe even become a best practice within our team! Thanks!

  5. Rick Rothstein (MVP - Excel) says:

    I addressed another method of navigating a workbook with a large number of worksheets in my mini-blog article here which some may find useful…


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