Hide Notes and Comments in Microsoft Excel

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated October 17, 2020

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

You can hide comments and notes in Excel workbooks. In addition to adding comments in Excel, there is a little known function called the N function that you can use to enter notes directly within a formula. The N function has been around for a long time so you can use it in older versions of Excel.

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In Excel 2016, comments changed to threaded comments and the legacy comments became notes. Options for 2016 and later versions are therefore slightly different from earlier versions of Excel. Threaded comments appear with a comment marker as opposed to the traditional red marker. Markers are displayed by default.

Managing the display of comments and indicators

If you are adding comments in Excel, you can specify options as to how you want comments to display in your workbook. By default, when you insert comments in cells, Excel will display indicators as comment markers or red markers in cells with comments.

To control the display of comments and indicators using Excel’s Options in Excel 2010 and 2013:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon and then click Options. The Options dialog box appears.
  2. Click the Advanced category in the left panel.
  3. In the right panel, scroll down to the Display section.
  4. In the area For cells with comments, show, choose the desired option. Check No comments or indicators if you do not want the red markers to display. Check Indicators only, comments on hover to display the red markers. Check Comments and indicators if you wish comments and indicators to display.
  5. Click OK.

The following Options dialog box appears in 2010 and 2013:

Excel options to control the display of comment indicators in workbooks.

To control the display of comments and indicators using Excel’s Options in Excel 2016 and later versions:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon and then click Options. The Options dialog box appears.
  2. Click the Advanced category in the left panel.
  3. In the right panel, scroll down to the Display section.
  4. In the area For cells with comments, show, choose the desired option.
  5. Click OK.

The following Opions dialog box appears in Excel 2016 and later versions which includes options for threaded comments and notes (legacy comments):

Excel Options dialog box to show and hide comments and notes in 2016 and later versions.

Showing or hiding all comments using the Review tab

Assuming that you have set the display of comments to show markers and comments on hover, you may want to show all comments when you are working on them and then later hide the comments to display the markers again.

To show or hide all comments using the Ribbon:

  1. Click the Review tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Show All Comments or Show Comments in the Comments group to show or hide comments (this is a toggle).

Show All Comments in the Ribbon in Excel.

In 2016 and later verions, Show Comments displays comments, not notes (legacy comments).

Hiding all comments and indicators using Excel Options

To use Excel Options to hide comments and indicators:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon and then click Options. An dialog box appears.
  2. Click the Advanced category in the left panel.
  3. In the right panel, scroll down to the Display section.
  4. In the area For cells with comments, show, check the No comments or indicators in 2010 and 2013 or No comments, notes, or indicators in 2016 and later verions.
  5. Click OK.

This can be very dangerous if you don’t know there are comments in a workbook and it’s sent to a client or third party with the hidden comments.

Using the N function to enter notes in a formula

You can use the N function to enter notes directly in a formula. Simply enter +N(“whatever note you want”) at the end of the formula. The text of the note must appear in double quotes (“”) and returns a value of 0 so it does not affect the calculation.

The N function has the following syntax:

=N(argument)

For example:

=COUNTA(A1:A900)+N(“This sample data set extracted from United Global data 2014”)

The N function returns values as follows:

  • If the value is or refers to a number, the N function returns the number so in the formula =N(A1) where A1 contains 400, the returned value would be 400.
  • If the value is or refers to a date, the function returns the serial number of the date so in the formula =N(A1) where A1 contains 1/1/2014, the returned value would be 41640 or the number of days from the first date in the system.
  • If the value is or refers to TRUE, the N function returns 1.
  • If the value is or refers to FALSE, the N function returns 0.
  • If the value is or refers to an error value the N function returns the error value.
  • If the value is or refers to anything else (like a note in quotes) the N function returns 0.

Finding formulas with notes

You can find formulas with notes entered using the N function with the Find command:

  1. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Find and Select in the Editing group.
  3. Click Find. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + F. The Find dialog appears.
  4. In the Find dialog, enter N( or N(*) in the Find what area.
  5. Choose to search within the sheet or workbook and to look in formulas.
  6. Click Find. Continue clicking Find for each instance of a note using the N function. You can also click Find All for a listing of all instances.

Find dialog in Excel to find notes in a formula.

You don’t normally use the N function in a formula to convert values to numbers because Excel automatically converts values. The N function is provided for compatibility with other spreadsheet programs but also provides an interesting way to enter notes in Excel.

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Summary
How to Hide Comments or Notes in Excel Workbooks
Article Name
How to Hide Comments or Notes in Excel Workbooks
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You can hide comments and notes in Excel workbooks. In addition to adding comments in Excel, there is a little known function called the N function that you can use to enter notes directly within a formula. The N function has been around for a long time so you can use it in older versions of Excel.
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Avantix Learning

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