A table without a header row can cause confusion and reduce efficiency in tracking and managing data because we always have to wonder what each of the values are referring to. Fortunately, Excel offers several ways to make a header row that will help us become more efficient and effective in presenting and handling data on a spreadsheet.
Figure 1. Final result: How to make a header row
Suppose we have below data.
Figure 2. Sample table with no header row
How to create a header row
- Apply formatting
- Format as table
- Freeze rows
- Add print title
We can make the first row as header by changing the format of the first row of data in order to make its appearance distinct from the other cells. We can apply the following format:
- Bold text
- Fill the cell with color: Blue, Accent 5, Lighter 60%
- Bottom double border
Figure 3. Output: New format reflected
Now we can easily identify the first row as the header row.
Format as table with header row
In order to format our data as a table, we follow these steps:
- Select the cells we want to format
- Click Home tab > Format as Table > Table Style Light 9
Figure 4. Format As Table in menu
- Click OK. The Format As Table dialog box will appear. Verify the range B2:F7 for our data set and ensure that the checkbox is ticked for My table has headers.
Figure 5. Format As Table dialog box
We have successfully formatted our data as a table with a header row, and Excel automatically adds filter arrows that can be used to sort or filter the values per column.
Figure 6. Output: Format as table
Freeze header row
When navigating through a list or data that consists of many rows, it is wise to freeze the first row of data such that we can always see the labels even when we have scrolled so far down the worksheet.
In order to freeze the first row so that it is always visible on screen, we follow these steps:
- Click the second row of data, or the row just below our header row
- Click View tab > Freeze Panes > Freeze Panes
Figure 7. Freeze Panes in menu
After freezing, the header row will always be present on-screen even when we scroll down to the last row in the worksheet.
Figure 8. Output: Freeze header row
Add print title
For long lists or large data sets that are more than one page, it is very helpful to have a header row so that our data is properly labelled in every page that we print or preview. In order to add a print title, we follow these steps:
- Click Page Layout tab > Print Titles
- In the Page Setup dialog box, Sheet tab, enter row 2 as $2:$2 in Rows to repeat at top or click the icon and click row 2.
Figure 9. Add print title option in Page Setup
- Click OK.
This method ensures that the selected header row (row 2) is repeatedly displayed on every page as we print or preview the worksheet.
Figure 10. Preview of page 1 with header row
Figure 11. Preview of page 2 with header row