If you’re working with a huge database, Excel’s filter tool can be useful. It is used to greatly simplify data analysis and summarization.
The Excel filter function is a very important and often-used feature that is most likely used in many circumstances. It allows you to filter a range of data by a specific condition, resulting in a new set of data that only displays the rows/columns from the original data set that fit the criteria/condition set in the formula.
However, there may be times when the filter function may not work well or get stuck. Typically, such an issue occurs when there are blank cells in the dataset. So, deleting these cells provides a quick fix for the problem.
But what if the problem persists? Let’s learn more about different causes and solutions for fixing the filter function in Excel through this article.
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The Filter Function In Excel
The filter function “filters” a set of data based on the criteria you provide. The result is an array of values from the original range that match. In layman’s terms, the filter function will retrieve matched records from a batch of data using one or more logical checks. Logical tests are provided as they include arguments and can contain a variety of formula criteria. The Filter option, for example, can match data from a given year or month, data containing specific text, or values larger than a certain threshold.
The array, include, and if_empty arguments are passed to the filter method. The range or array to filter is denoted by Array. One or more logical tests should be included in the include argument. Based on the examination of array values, these tests should return TRUE or FALSE. The final input, if_empty, specifies what should be returned when the filter finds no matching values. This is usually a message like “No records found,” although other values can also be returned. To display nothing, enter an empty string such as (“).
The filter’s output is dynamic. When the values in the source data change, or the source data array is resized, the filter results are automatically updated. The filter results will “spill” into numerous cells on the worksheet.
Why is the Excel Filter not Working
Let’s understand why your Excel application’s filter function isn’t working through the below list of reasons:
- Blank rows or hidden rows in the dataset
- Merged Vertical Cells
- Error in Data Value
- More than one worksheet is selected (grouped)
- Password-protected worksheet
How to Fix the Excel Filter Problem
Now, let’s get started with the techniques to fix the different causes discussed.
Blank or Hidden Rows in Dataset
If you have blank rows or columns in your dataset, it may not choose the row or column below or past these cells due to which Excel will be unable to filter out all of the information in your dataset. You can manually choose the data and prevent the error. Nextly, click on the Filter option and arrange it as per your choice. You will be able to secure all your datasets through this method.
You can also delete the blank rows by specifying the data in the Filter box. Follow the below steps:
- Step 1: Navigate to the column that displays the filter list.
- Step 2: Uncheck the option for Select All by clicking the drop-down arrow.
- Step 3: Scroll down and select the option for Blanks.
- Step 4: To save the filter changes, click the OK button.
The manual way to delete these cells is to right-click on the row next to the blank cell and click the Delete button.
If your dataset contains hidden rows or columns, Excel will not apply the Filter function to these data cells. Hence, you have to unhide any hidden rows or columns from your spreadsheet.
- Step 1: Find the hidden row or column.
- Step 2: Inside the row headings, it should seem like a double line. Another indicator of how to spot hidden rows/columns is a skipped order of numbers or alphabets.
- Step 3: Choose both adjacent rows/columns.
- Step 4: Go to the Home tab and select Format.
- Step 5: Select Hide & Unhide from the drop-down option.
- Step 6: Lastly, select Unhide Rows or Unhide Columns from the menu.
Merged Vertical Cells
Merged cells in your dataset can also cause issues with filtering your sheet. Excel frequently ignores data on merged rows/columns. Therefore, before using the filter option, it is recommended that you first unmerge all data cells.
Follow this step-by-step guide to know how to do it.
- Step 1: On your spreadsheet, select the Merged Cell.
- Step 2: Navigate to the Alignment section from the Home tab.
- Step 3: Select the Unmerge cells option from the Merge and Center drop-down menu.
Error in Data Value
If your table contains data errors, the filter function may not function on your data set. As a result, it is preferable to delete these data errors from the table.
- Step 1: Navigate to the column displaying the filter list.
- Step 2: Uncheck the box next to Select All by clicking the drop-down arrow.
- Step 3: Scroll down and select the #Value option.
- Step 4: To save the filter changes, press the OK button.
In some unusual circumstances, the current filter that you are trying to configure may not function on your data set. So, an easy way to fix this is to clear the existing filter and create a new one. Follow the below steps to get it done.
- Step 1: Go to the Data menu.
- Step 2: Click the Clear icon next to the Filter button.
- Step 3: Choose the column heading or the dataset.
- Step 4: Click the Filter option.
Repairing a Gray-Out Filter in Excel
Here are a few useful ways to use when the filter option in your Excel application is grayed out.
More than one worksheet is selected (grouped)
If you have more than one sheet selected, Excel will not let you use the Filter tool. But first and foremost, ungroup the sheets.
To do so, right-click on a sheet in the bottom bar and select Ungroup Sheets from the menu that appears.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is whether or not your bedding is protected. When you safeguard a sheet, Excel automatically grays out the Filter option. So, to remove the sheet’s protection follow the below steps.
- Step 1: Open the Excel spreadsheet.
- Step 2: Navigate to the Review tab in Excel.
- Step 3: Select Unprotect Sheet from the menu.
- Step 4: You will see a pop-up window appearing; enter your sheet password here.
- Step 5: Now, press the OK button to confirm your decision.
- Color filter not working
If your color filtering on your spreadsheet isn’t working, there are two possibilities. The first is if all of your cells are the same color or if you have shared the workbook.
To unshare, go to the Review option and click on the Unshare Workbook.
- Look at the Column Headings
Examine the data that just contains one row of column headings.
To get many lines for the header, simply type the first line into the cell. After that, use “ALT + ENTER” to enter a new line in the cell.
The Wrap Text function is useful for accurately formatting the cells, in such issues.
- The ‘Equals’ Filter not working
If your Excel is not displaying the correct data when using the Equals, Number, or Date Filters, check to see if the format of your data is the same.
Let us assume that we have two cells and have input 1000 as data in each cell. One cell is formatted as “Currency,” whereas another is formatted as “Number.” When we choose the “Number Filters, Equals” option, Excel will only return matches in which we have also inputted the number format.
Typing the word 1000 will only search for matches for cells in the number format. Whereas typing $1,000.00 will check for cells that are labeled as ‘Currency.’
The same rule applies when it comes to dates. For example, the dates 16-Jan-19 and 16/01/2019 are not the same. Hence, to avoid the filter function not working in Excel, you need to ensure that the entire data column is formatted in the same format.
The first thing Excel filters look for is whether your data is consistent with its basic layout guidelines. If you follow all of the Excel filter guidelines mentioned above, you will not encounter the Excel filter not working issue. Hence, you need to double-check that you are following all of the above-mentioned Excel Filter criteria accurately.