Office challenge: Why can't I use Excel's Subtotals feature?

In this week's Office challenge, test your Excel skills by solving a disabled feature mystery and learn the solution to last week's Excel custom view error challenge.

Excel's Subtotals feature automatically calculates subtotals and grand totals for columnar values. In Excel 2003, you'll find Subtotals on the Data menu. In Excel 2007 and 2010, Subtotal (why Microsoft removed the "s" in later versions is a mystery) is in the Outline group on the Data tab. One morning a worried user calls because Excel is broke!—the Subtotals item is grayed out. With one quick question, you immediately ascertain the situation. The user will have to make a choice, but she won't be blue (clue alert!) for long—with your help, she'll be able to make an informed decision. So, what's going on with this sheet and what would you do to help this user?

Last week we asked…

Why is an Excel custom view generating an error? Appletude responded correctly. You can't protect portions of a custom view. Technically, any view settings that violate the protection settings will generate an error. What that means is - don't apply protection to a sheet that's part of a custom view. There's no workaround. Either you remove the protected sheet from the custom view or you disable protection for the sheet. Thanks Appletude - you were right on the money!


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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