Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

One reason why you cannot merge cells in Excel

23rd October 2010

One handy thing that I didn’t realise that you could do with Excel until the last few months was the ability to share an open workbook between users and collate any changes that are made (it seems that a form of version control is behind this). From what I have seen, Excel seems to manage changes to shared spreadsheets rather well. When you save yours, it adds updates from other users and warns if any edits collide with one another. To activate it in Excel 2003, all that needs doing is for you to go to the Share Workbook entry on the Tools and tick the appropriate checkbox in the resulting dialogue box. In 2007 and 2010, look for the Share Workbook icon in the Review tab on the ribbon to get the same dialogue box popping up.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its restrictions though and I have found that the merging of cells is made unavailable but that can be sorted by unsharing and resharing the workbook when no one else is using it. As to why cell merger is switched off by sharing, I have a few ideas. Maybe, they couldn’t make it work reliably (can happen with large software development projects like the creation of a new version of Excel) or decided that it would have consequences for other users that are too inconvenient. Either way, we cannot merge cells in shared workbooks and that’s the way that things are for now. Some may not worry about this though since they reckon that cell merging is undesirable anyway; well, don’t go doing it in any spreadsheet that is likely to be read in by another program or you could cause trouble.

  • All the views that you find expressed on here in postings and articles are mine alone and not those of any organisation with which I have any association, through work or otherwise. As regards editorial policy, whatever appears here is entirely of my own choice and not that of any other person or organisation.

  • Please note that everything you find here is copyrighted material. The content may be available to read without charge and without advertising but it is not to be reproduced without attribution. As it happens, a number of the images are sourced from stock libraries like iStockPhoto so they certainly are not for abstraction.

  • With regards to any comments left on the site, I expect them to be civil in tone of voice and reserve the right to reject any that are either inappropriate or irrelevant. Comment review is subject to automated processing as well as manual inspection but whatever is said is the sole responsibility of the individual contributor.