rows and columns difference

Rows or Columns? What is the difference?

Rows are units of cells that are on a horizontal line across(left to right) and Columns are units of cells that are on a vertical line(up and down) 

Rows and columns are usually used in software such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets but you have rows and columns in any table. You can usually adjust the size of both rows and columns to fit your needs. 

Here is a table with 3 rows and 5 columns:

Row 1/Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5
Row 2
Row 3


Rows usually start from Left to Right on the page(Horizontally). 

In programs that store large amounts of data, numbers are usually shown on the left side so you can keep track of each input. 

What is the maximum number of rows?

There is no maximum of rows in programs such as excel and sheets but it may be difficult to process a high number of rows. Excel usually shows row numbers up until 1 million. 


Columns usually start from the top to the bottom of the page(Vertically).

Letters are usually used to show the different columns in programs like excel. They start from A, B, C, etc.

What is the maximum number of Columns?

Columns usually run from letters A-Z so there is usually a maximum of 26 columns. If I need more columns I can always start a new sheet.

What do you put in rows vs columns?

You usually input different titles or pieces of data. Columns usually have categories of information because it is more difficult to move your sheet from side to side than it is to move it up and down. 

For this reason, many people put category titles in row one and change the colour of that row and then put the pieces of data in each row below for each item. 

rows and columns example

How to remember the difference

When you think of columns, think about the columns of the Roman and Greek buildings that have big columns at the front. To remember “rows”, think of the shape of a rowing boat that is long and not very tall but has a long width. 

Rows(Other meanings)

A row/rəʊ/ can mean anything that appears in a sequence that appears to be a straight line or something continuous. 

Can you put the seats in a row so we can fit more people?

We won three national championships in a row. 

Row/rəʊ/ is also a verb that we use to move boats forward with oars.  

Row/raʊ/ also means to have an argument. In this case, it is a homophone because it has the same spelling but different pronunciation. This is only common in British English.

I had a row with my girlfriend.

Columns(Other meanings) 

A column also means an upright pillar that is used in architecture. It is very common in classical design made famous by ancient Greece and Rome.