Spreadsheet Design:
Document with Comments

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
Did you want Working with Numbers: 2007,2010,2013,2016  or españolIcon: Change web

One way to include your documentation without cluttering up the worksheet is to use comments.

Excel lets you insert into any cell a comment that acts like a hidden Post-It note.

By default, a cell that has a comment displays a small red triangle in the upper right of the cell.  Show comment cell with comment indicator

MouseMove your mouse over cell A1 in the illustration. 
The comment pops into view. When you move the mouse out of the cell, the comment vanishes again.

(If this did not work for you, your browser does not recognize MouseOver and MouseOut commands.)


Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Numbers

Before you start...

Project 1: Excel IntroTo subtopics

Project 2: Excel BasicsTo subtopics    

Project 3: Format & ArrangeTo subtopics

Project 4: Groups & FormulasTo subtopics

Project 5: Design
    Analysis To subtopics
    FootprintPrint Comments
    What If...To subtopics
    Logical TestsTo subtopics
    Sharing DataTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics


Working with Comments

Comment - default characteristicsThe Default Comment

  • Shape: Rectangle
  • Size: 0 .77 " x 1.33 "
  • Color: pale yellow
  • Border: thin, black
  • Shadow: narrow, down right
  • Font: Tahoma, 8 pt., black
  • Author: Bold, Tahoma, 8 pt., black. Automatically inserted at beginning of comment. Comes from owner at installation of Excel.
  • Location: at the right of the cell with its top a little higher than the top of the cell.

The background color is the color set for ToolTips. A ToolTip is the little popup tip you see when your mouse hovers over a button or other feature. This color is set in the Appearance tab of the Display dialog for Windows, starting with Win95.

TipIf your name is not showing as the comment's author, you can delete the name and retype. If you expect to do a number of comments, change the Author in the document properties:  File  |  Properties  |  Summary tab . Then you won't have to retype each one!

Add & Format Text

Comment in Edit modeYou can format the text inside your comment box with all the normal tools as you create it.

Once you have created a comment, you can make changes when you are in Edit mode.

To edit an existing comment:

  • Method 1: Select the cell and use the menu  Insert  |  Edit Comment  (not an entirely logical location for this command!)

  • Method 2: Right click the cell and choose  Edit Comment  from the popup menu.

When you are in Edit mode:

  • Name box show the cell reference.

  • Border of the comment is diagonals.

  • Cursor blinks.

TipIf you need to see underneath a comment while you are editing, just drag the comment by its border. The next time the comment pops up, it will be back in the default location - to the right of the cell with the comment's top edge slightly above the cell. When you edit the comment later, however, it will move to where you left it the last time you edited. A bit confusing... but handy!

Format Text Box

Comment selected - various shapes and borders shownYou can format your comment text box only when the box is selected. The comment box is actually an AutoShape. Click on the border of the comment text box to select it. If you miss, the comment will close.

When the comment is selected:

  • Name Box shows the comment's number. Comments are numbered in the order in which they are created.

  • Border is dotted.

  • No cursor.

You can use buttons on either the Formatting bar or on the Drawing bar to change the background color and text color. To change the shape of the text box, use  Draw | Change AutoShape . You cannot just pick a new shape from the normal AutoShapes list.

Icon Step-by-Step

Step-by-Step: Comments

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to create a comment
to format a comment
to edit an existing comment

Start with: Class disk trips31.xls - sheet Specials (saved in previous lesson)

Comment: Create

  1. Open trips31.xls, if necessary.
  2. Select cell G1. You will attach a comment that will be visible all the time. Comments about the sheet as a whole are usually put in cell A1. However, for some sheets, such a comment could not be visible all the time without blocking part of the sheet.
  3. Menu: Insert | CommentFrom the menu select  Insert  |  Comment . The default comment box appears with handles for resizing and a cursor ready for your typing.

  4. Default comment box - author, date, classIf necessary, change the user name to your own name.
  5. Type  Created on  and type the date. Then type what class you are doing this sheet for.
    You can't use Insert | Date like you can in the Header/Footer. If you are not sure of the date, hover over the time in the Windows tray at the bottom right of your screen. The date will popup.
  6. Click in an empty cell to close the comment.

Comment: Format

  1. Open the Drawing bar, if necessary, with the Button: Drawing Drawing button.
  2. Right click on cell G1 and from the popup menu select  Edit Comment 
    Notice that this popup menu also includes  Delete Comment  and  Show Comment  while the Insert menu only shows  Edit Comment . Who would guess that??
  3. Format comment: With the comment selected (border is dotted),  change the shape with  Draw  |  Change AutoShape  |  Basic Shapes  and select the rounded rectangle. If the shape choices are grayed out, you are in Edit mode in the comment box. Click on the border of the box and try again.

Menu: Draw | Change AutoShapes | Basic Shapes | Rounded Rectangle

  1. Buttons: Fill, Line Color, Font ColorSet the Fill color to Sky Blue, the Line color to Black,  and the Font color to Dark Blue with the buttons on the Drawing bar.

    If you do not see the color choices in the palettes when you try to change the fill and font color, you do not have the comment box border selected.

  2. Comment formattedCreate a drop shadow that is down and to the left from the palette of the Button: Shadow Shadow button on the Drawing bar.
  3. Click on any cell to close the comment.

Comment: Edit

Next you will add some text to the existing comment.

  1. Popup Menu: Edit CommentRight click on cell G1
  2. From the popup menu select  Edit Comment . The comment box appears with handles and a cursor at the end of the existing text, ready for your editing. 

  3. Create a line break with SHIFT + ENTER, just like in word processing.
    WarningDon't get confused!
    In a cell you must use ALT + ENTER to create  line break but in a comment use SHIFT + ENTER like in Word.
  4. Add a new line to the comment:
          Purpose: to show results of World Travel's special trips offer 
  5. Resize the comment box to cover the range H1:J3.
  6. Comment box with Purpose: to show results of World Travel's special trips offerClick on an empty cell to close the Comment box.
  7. Class diskCreate on your Class disk a folder named  excel project5 
  8. Class diskSave as  trips32.xls  to the excel project5 folder.