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Five Excel Spreadsheet Navigation Ideas

Have you ever found yourself with an Excel Workbook filled with a seemingly endless amount of worksheets that are almost impossible to navigate?

It can be frustrating and time consuming to try and get all of the worksheets in order. And even if you do get them organized into the right order, it can be really hard to jump back and forth from one to another.

The good news is – it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many different ways to set up your workbook so that navigation is much easier to manage.

In fact, I will give you five different techniques and examples of how you can better organize and manage your workbook navigation.

Technique No. 1 – Add Color To Your Tabs

Did you know that you can assign different colors to your tabs at the bottom of the workbook?

Colored Spreadsheet Tabs

I didn’t know this for the longest time, then one day a friend of mine pointed the color feature out to me, and I was absolutely amazed!

First of all, I love colors. Second, if I could make some tabs red and others blue, the effort I had to put into finding the right tab was now cut in half. How awesome is that?

So if you want a quick and easy solution to immediately make the organization of your worksheet tabs and navigation a little bit easier, then add in some color.

Technique No. 2 – Add Hyperlinks to Shapes and Cells

Aside from adding color to your workbook tabs, there isn’t much more you can do to organize them in a better way.

However, that doesn’t mean that there are no more options for spreadsheet navigation. If we merely look past the tabs and think outside of the box, there is much more that can be done.

This is where hyperlinks come in to play.

Simply put, a hyperlink is a feature that allows you to navigate from one page or location to another once you click on the object that has the hyperlink attached to it. For example, if you add a hyperlink to cell A1 and activate that hyperlink by clicking on cell A1, then you will be navigated to the page or location specified by the hyperlink.

Excel Hyperlink Dialog Box

The great part about hyperlinks is that you can add them to almost any object that exists within your spreadsheet. You can add a hyperlink to shapes, cells, and even graphs too.

This can be very useful because if you constantly bounce back and forth between two or three specific sheets, you can add in a few hyperlinks to these sheets and immediately simplify your whole navigation process.

Technique No. 3 – Side Navigation with Shapes

Now that you know about hyperlinks, it’s all about your creative imagination from here on out.

If you put together a series of shapes and colors, you can create any navigation scheme you can imagine.

To help kick start the flow of ideas, I will share with you a few that I have come up with so far. Probably the navigation scheme that I use most often is a side navigation panel using shapes and hyperlinks.

Custom Side Spreadsheet Navigation

This scheme consists of a few shapes with hyperlinks attached to them that lead to specific worksheets. Now instead of having obscure tabs at the bottom of your workbook, you have a vibrant, visible, and very cool navigation menu that makes it super easy to get around.

Technique No. 4 – Top Navigation with Shapes

Shapes don’t always have to be pushed to the side, and it is always possible to rise above the tabs at the bottom of your workbook.

All you have to do is put together a simple top navigation menu using shapes and hyperlinks.

Custom Top Spreadsheet Navigation

With this setup, you can make your workbook look like almost any other application out there. At least as far as the navigation goes that is.

With your top navigation setup, you can customize the size, color, font, and many other aspects of your navigation system. This sure beats the limited options you have with the tabs stuck at the bottom of your spreadsheet.

Technique No. 5 – The Top and Side Hybrid

Whenever you find yourself swamped with a ridiculous amount of worksheets in a single workbook, the top-side navigation hybrid can be one of the best ideas to use.

Custom Hybrid Spreadsheet Navigation

You can make one part the main navigation and the other part the sub-navigation. This allows you to “nest” or categorize your worksheets more effectively.

For instance, you can create a “Savings” tab on your side navigation menu, and all of a sudden your top navigation menu becomes updated with all the worksheets relevant to that specific tab.

Custom Dependent Spreadsheet Navigation


Instead of having to wade through a single line of twenty different worksheet tabs to find just the one you are looking for, you can identify the important few with only a single click. That certainly sounds like a more organized and manageable solution to me.

So whether you add a splash of color or you use shapes and hyperlinks, you can really take your workbook navigation to the next level.

As I love to say – with a little creativity and some wonderful imagination, you can create almost anything with the amazing power of spreadsheets.

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