How to Select and Reorder Excel Data Columns

Published on 8 Apr, 2019 by Milos Gregor

Sometimes it happens that we work with large datasets - datasets that contain tens to hundreds of columns. However, for some analysis or processing steps, we often do not need to see all the columns. We also want to display them in a different order - for example, categorical variables (dimensions) at the beginning and numerical at the end.

Exactly for these task, we can use the Select and Reorder functions. Their character is inspired by SQL command - SELECT. The difference between SQL and Reshape.XL implementation is in simplicity and readability. In SQL, you can use the SELECT statement to select variables from the input table, change the column order in the result table and to edit the variable names (AS keyword).

In the case of the Reshape.XL add-in, functionality of the SQL SELECT command was divided into the Select, Reorder and Rename commands. Their functionality is clear by their names. Thanks to this division, we have achieved greater readability of the functions applied in the sequence. In addition, it is easier for beginners to adopt these commands and the add-in is much easier to use on the level of visual interface.

For complete documentation see the How To section and a quick introduction of Select and Reorder functions is provided in the following video tutorial.

As is clear from the video, the functions are very easy to use. We use them to select columns of Excel tables and to reorder individual columns. These functions can be used in the sequence of commands as temporary or permanent. For temporary purpose, we can use the Select function to columns selection that we need to work with and hide those that aren’t required during the processing.Finally, after defining and testing all subsequent functions in a row, we can deactivate the Select function and finally display the other (temporarily hidden) columns.