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Chapter 3. Editing Spreadsheets > Using Comments to Explain Cell Content

Using Comments to Explain Cell Content

Many times, the content you add to or edit in a cell requires more explanation or supporting information than you can easily add to the worksheet. Explaining, for example, that the price contained in a particular cell includes a 5% discount is easy enough to do by typing this text in an adjacent cell. If, however, the 5% discount is offered only to certain customers or will be going up to 8% within the next few days, this extra information might be too cumbersome to add as actual worksheet content, especially if you print the data often but don’t want these comments in the printout. This explanation or parenthetical information can be added in the form of a comment, a box containing text that appears whenever the mouse is positioned over the cell that needs explanation (see Figure 3.21).

Figure 3.21. Drag the comment box handles to increase the size of the box.

Tip From

Reviewers can also use comments to ask questions of the workbook’s owner or other editors.

To add a comment to your worksheet, follow these steps:

Click in the cell for which a comment is needed.

Choose Insert, Comment, or right-click the cell and choose Insert Comment from the shortcut menu.

A yellow comment box appears, containing your username (as you provided it during the installation of Office and as it appears on the User Name line in the General Tab of the Options dialog box). Click in the box to activate a cursor and begin typing your comment text.

Click in any other cell to close the comment box and store the entered comment text.


You can format your comments so they look different from those others write. For example, if your comments have a light green background or use a different font, the person reviewing your comments will recognize yours just by the way they look. Use the Highlight tool on the Formatting toolbar to set a comment’s background color. Use the font tools on the Formatting toolbar to change font attributes.

Cells that have an attached comment contain a small red triangle in the upper-right corner of the cell (see Figure 3.22). To view the comment, position your mouse pointer over the cell. The comment appears as long as your mouse remains over the cell.

Figure 3.22. The comment displays as long as your mouse hovers over the interior of the cell to which a comment has been attached.

Tip From

You can set any comment so that it always displays. Right-click the cell and choose Show/hide Comments. You can also set your worksheet so that all comments display. Choose Tools, Options, click the Options dialog box’s View tab, and then click Comment & Indicator. (You can also click None to never show comments or comment indicators, or click Comment Indicator to show indicators only.)

Tip From

When you set any or all comments to always display, you can also print them with your workbook. Choose File, Page Setup, and then click the Sheet tab. Click the arrow at the end of the Comments box and choose either to print comments where they appear on the sheet, or to print comments at the end of the sheet. Click OK and then print the worksheet.

To delete a comment, right-click the cell and choose Delete Comment from the shortcut menu.

To edit a comment, right-click the cell and choose Edit Comment from the shortcut menu. The comment box becomes active, and you can click to position your cursor within it and begin editing.

The Reviewing toolbar helps you work with comments, especially when you’re adding a lot of them or when you’re reviewing several comments others have made in your workbook. To turn it on, choose View, Comments. Table 3.1 shows the buttons on this toolbar.

Table 3.1. Reviewing Toolbar Functions
New CommentAdd a comment.
Previous CommentFind and show the previous comment.
Next CommentFind and show the next comment.
Show Comment (or Show/Hide Comment)Cause the currently selected comment to always display, or hide the currently selected comment.
Show All Comments (or Hide All Comments)Display or hide all comments.
Delete CommentRemove the currently selected comment.
Create Microsoft Outlook TaskMake a task in Outlook out of the currently selected comment.
Update FileSave new and changed comments in your workbook.
Mail Recipient (as Attachment)E-mail the workbook, with all its comments, to someone.

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