[EXCEL / G-Sheets] Have you ever received a spreadsheet from a colleague and wondered what exactly some of the data meant? The numbers really didn’t give a clear picture and the data needs more clarification.
In Excel and Google Sheets you can add Comments to worksheet cells to explain the contents, offer feedback and provide more information to those viewing your data.
For example, you might want to add Comments to:
- A sales spreadsheet showing why certain months have higher numbers.
- Give more detail about how you arrived at certain figures or dollar amounts.
- Ask questions on a colleague’s spreadsheet.
Well, in Excel 365 Comments have gotten a facelift! Now it’s much easier to use Comments in a collaborative way with others, kind of like a conversation about the content of your spreadsheet.
NOTE: If you like the old Comments version better, good news! Microsoft kept the functionality. It is in the updated Excel versions, but it has been renamed as Notes. So you have both!
What’s the Difference Between a Comment and a Note?
A Comment is “threaded” allowing for conversations between people working on the spreadsheet content. One person can add a Comment and another person can reply… and so forth.
- Comments have a white background.
- You cannot format the text or resize the Comment box.
- And you cannot remove or change your name.
- A purple triangle will appear in the top right corner of the cell to indicate a Comment has been added.
- To close the Comment, you can hold the Ctrl key, and press Enter.
Notes are for making additional clarifications about the content in a cell.
- Notes have a familiar yellow background.
- There’s no ability to reply to a note.
- You can format the text and make the Note box larger or smaller.
- And you can edit your name (which has been added automatically).
- A red triangle will appear in the top right corner of the cell to indicate a Note has been added.
- To close the Note, just click out of it.
See the difference in how Comments and Notes look in this example:
How to Add and Use Comments
When you add a Comment to a cell, your profile image and name will appear … as well as the text you type in the comment field. A timestamp will automatically be added.
When you share the document with others, they can not only view the Comment but click on it to Reply. Their name as well as the date and time will be recorded in the thread of the Comment.
Add a Comment
- To add a Comment, place your cursor in the cell and from the Review tab, click New Comment. Or right-click in the cell and choose New Comment.
- Type your Comment text in the Start a conversation
- Click the green icon to post the Comment … or hold the Ctrl key, press Enter.
Edit a Comment
- To make changes, hover over the cell with the Comment to view it and click the pencil icon.
- The text box will open for you to update your Comment.
- Click the green check box to save your edits.
Close the Conversation
- To end the Comment conversation, hover over the cell and click the three horizontal dots to see more actions and choose Resolve Thread.
- Now the discussion is visible, but no other edits or entries can be made unless it is re-opened.
Delete Comment – To completely remove a comment, hover over the cell, click the three horizontal dots and choose Delete Thread.
Use the Review Tab to Display Comments
When you have many Comments in your spreadsheet it’s handy to use the tools in the Review menu to view them. In addition to adding a New Comment:
- Use the Previous Comment and Next Comment icons to move between several in the spreadsheet to make sure all have been reviewed.
- Click the Show Comments icon to open up a window that will display in the right panel all Comments in the spreadsheet.
How to Use Notes
Notes let you add annotations to different cells in a worksheet if you need to offer more context to the content.
Add a Note
- To add a Note, place your cursor in the cell and from the Review tab, click Notes and select New Note from the drop-down window. Or right-click in the cell and choose New Note.
- In the yellow box that opens, type the text you want to add.
- Click out of the box when you’re finished to save it.
Edit a Note
- To make changes to your Note, click the cell to highlight it and in the Review tab, click Notes and then Edit Note (or right-click and select Edit Note).
- Make your changes in the yellow Note box.
- Click out of the Note to save and exit.
Delete Note – To completely remove a Note, click in the cell, right-click and select Delete Note.
Use the Review Tab to View All Notes
- Unlike Comments, in the Review tab, when you click Notes, in the drop-down menu you can Show All Notes, but they will display in the document, not the side panel. Toggle this setting off to hide the Notes again.
- For the Notes icon, you can choose Previous and Next Note to make sure you’ve viewed all of them.
BONUS! If you use Excel 365 now … and you have older spreadsheets (saved as Excel 2010, 2011,2013…) you can convert them to the newer style. Go to the Review tab and under the Notes option, in the drop-down menu, you’ll see the option to Covert to Comments.
Collaborate with Others on Google Sheets Using Comments
Comments in a Google Sheet work similarly to Excel, but in addition to adding, editing, and replying to other comments, you can tag other team members so that they get a notification.
Add a Comment
- There are three ways to add a Comment. 1) Highlight the cell and either click the Comment icon in the toolbar, 2) Go to Insert in the menu and select Comment, or 3) Right-click and pick
- A box will open with your profile image and name.
- Type your Comment in the box.
- Click the green Comment button to save and close.
Edit or Delete a Comment
- Click on the cell with the Comment and click the More option (three vertical dots).
- Choose to Edit and make your changes.
- Or Delete the Comment.
View All Comments
- In the top right, click the Open Comment History icon (it looks like a speech bubble with horizontal lines in it.)
- Or, at the bottom of all Comment boxes that you’ve added, you can click Open all comments.
- Your Comments will display in the right window.
- To close the pane, click the “X” in the right corner.
Tag Another Person in Your Comment
You can tag or mention someone in your Comment and they will receive an email notification.
- Insert and type your Comment.
- Anywhere in your comment text box, enter “@” and the person’s name or email address will show in the drop-down list. When the correct person is suggested in the list, click their name.
- TIP: If you add someone to the comment that does not have permission to view the spreadsheet, you will be asked to share the file.
- Click the green Reply button to save it.