Fit more tabs across an Excel workbook

Office for Mere Mortals helps people around the world get more from Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Delivered once a week. free.


Tabs in an Excel workbook can easily be hidden away on that single line. Here’s some tricks to fit more visible workbooks or workarounds when the tab list is way too long.

Here’s the common problem with too many worksheet labels and not enough width.

The three-dots at either end are the clue to the hidden tabs.  The left-right arrows at left will move the tab list along, though clicking on the dots does the same thing.

We’ll start with some simple tips that are often given as full ‘solutions’ then move onto more practical options for navigating many tabs.

Obviously, the Excel window can be widened or maximized to fill the entire screen but that’s not always practical.   Are you sure your screen is set to the maximum possible resolution?  It probably is, but sometimes there’s a greater resolution available to fit more info on the screen.

For a shared workbook, you don’t know how other people will resize the worksheet on their computer … they could even open it on a smartphone!  We have tips that will work no matter what screen the workbook is opened on.

Shorter tab labels

At risk of insulting your intelligence, the labels can be trimmed.

That’s not always possible – how can you make the word ‘Antihistamine’ shorter?

From the ‘so easy you might overlook’ department is a reminder that workbooks can be rearranged (drag and drop). The most commonly used tabs could be grouped on the left.

More space

The vertical bar or dots divides the line between space for tabs and the horizontal scroll bar.

Drag the divider to the right to make more room for visible workbooks.

Hide tabs

Maybe you don’t need all the workbooks on the list?  Tabs can be hidden from the list by right-clicking and choosing ‘Hide’.

The cells, ranges, links etc. on a hidden workbook work normally, it’s just not visible on the tabs list. Great for data source connections, PivotTables for PivotCharts and other side-calculations.

Hidden workbooks can be made visible again from the ‘Unhide’ choice on the same menu.

Workbook ‘Activate’ window

Right-click on the left/right tab navigation arrows to see the ‘Activate’ window with its full list of visible tabs.

Unfortunately, it’s a modal dialog, meaning you can’t do anything else in Excel until you close that Window.  That’s a shame because a floating list of workbooks would be useful in Excel.


Want More?

Office Watch has the latest news and tips about Microsoft Office. Independent since 1996. Delivered once a week.