Table data is prone to being disorganised and clogging up worksheet space. Fortunately, you can create a multi-level hierarchy that breaks it down into groups so each is summarised separately.
In Excel, these are called outlines, and the feature set is found on the Data tab inside the Outline group. Outlines can be applied to different types of data and layouts, but they are most suitable when you have blocks of related rows or columns.
Before starting an outline, it’s best to sort the data so it’s already ordered appropriately.
You can manually group rows or columns by highlighting them and clicking the Group button — or Ungroup to do the opposite.
Alternatively, you can automatically generate an outline using Auto Outline (found in the Group dropdown) or Subtotal.
Data in an official Excel Table can only be grouped or ungrouped manually. You cannot generate automatic outlines, but you can still convert it into a Table after constructing it, although you’ll run into problems trying to sort columns.
This example demonstrates how to use Subtotal to group sales data by two columns: Region and Item. The result is a more compact table, as each section becomes expandable and collapsable, making it easier to focus on the important details.