Difference between Row and Column with Basic to Advanced Examples

Difference between Row and Column with Basic to Advanced Examples

4 mins read1.1K Views Comment
Syed Aquib Ur
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager
Updated on Jan 23, 2024 12:18 IST

While the difference between row and columns is clear to many, there is still room for doubt when they are used in different contexts. Find them out in this quick-to-read row vs. column blog.


The first visual difference between row and columns in MS Excel is how data is arranged. In a row, the data appears horizontally and is read from left to right. On the other hand, data is sorted vertically in a column and is read from top to bottom. Let’s take the rows vs. columns debate a little further beyond Excel spreadsheets. 

  1. Row vs. column: Basic comparison
  2. Definition of a row
  3. Definition of a column

Row vs. Column: Basic Comparison

To get started with row vs. column, check out the following table with the major parameters of distinction.

Parameters Row Column
Alignment Left to right Top to bottom
Spreadsheet Indication Denoted by numbers Denoted by letters
Alternate names in DBMS Record Field
When to store information in relational databases When you need to rewrite columns in a row When you need to store value in a single column
Placement of total number Placed in the extreme right corner Placed in the bottom

Definition of a Row

A row is a horizontal set of information that is read left to right. It is not just present in Excel spreadsheet, but may also be referred to in the following cases. 

Related: MS Excel courses

Row in a Relational Database – Databases like SQL contain a large quantity of digital information and are highly structured in table format. Each row in the table is independent of the other, and it does not matter if the order of the rows is haphazard. 

Related: Database and SQL courses

Row in Excel – It follows a similar representation as a database. The information is laid out horizontally across each cell, and they are labelled as numbers on the first column of the spreadsheet. 

Cell References in Excel – Shiksha Online
Cell References in Excel – Shiksha Online
References in Excel are a fundamental part of the spreadsheet. They refer to each cell of a workbook and thus access the value contained in any of them. Cell references...read more
How to Split Cells in Excel?
How to Split Cells in Excel?
Splitting cells in Excel involves dividing the contents of a single cell into multiple cells. This can be incredibly useful for organizing and formatting data in a way that makes...read more

Row on a Computer Keyboard – Here, the horizontal keys from left to right represent rows. If you have to count the number of rows on a keyboard, there are six. 

Other examples of rows include

  • Rows in a theatre to represent seating areas
  • Rows of houses on a single side of the street
  • Horizontal number arrangement in a matrix, often termed horizontal arrays

Definition of a Column

A column presents items or information vertically, from top to bottom. 

Column in Excel – On any spreadsheet, the column is represented with letters from A – Z. While mentioning a column, the row is also considered. Suppose the column is A and the row is 1. They will together be named A1. And, if the row is 2, but the information is only available in the first column, it will be A2. 

Column in a Relational Database – There are specific rules/characteristics of columns in relations databases. In a NoSQL database, each row can also have a number of columns grouped. Another rule is that a column should have only a single type of data. Two columns also should not have the same name in the same table. 

Master SQL in No Time: The Ultimate Tutorial for Beginners!
Master SQL in No Time: The Ultimate Tutorial for Beginners!
Forget years of struggle; conquer SQL in weeks! This beginner-friendly guide cuts through the jargon and outlines a crystal-clear path to SQL mastery. No prior coding experience? No problem! Dive...read more
ALTER TABLE in SQL is used to change the structure of the existing table. In this article, we will briefly discuss how to add, modify, drop, rename columns, constraints, and...read more

Other examples of columns

  • Columns in a newspaper
  • Pillars of a structure, for instance, in ancient Greek and Roman architecture
  • Vertical arrangement in a matrix

Rows and Columns in Data Science - Know the Difference

Machine Learning Data Preparation

Let's say, you have a list of people's information.

In machine learning, this list is organized into a table with rows and columns.

Each person is a row, and the details about them (like age, height, favourite colour) are in columns. This setup helps the computer easily understand and learn from the information. For example, if you want the computer to predict someone's favourite colour, it will look at the columns (details like age, height) to find patterns and make a good guess.

Statistical Analysis

In statistical analysis, rows and columns help organize data neatly, like in a big spreadsheet.

Using R or Python's pandas library: Think of it like a giant Excel sheet where each row is an item (like a person, a city, a day) and each column is information about that item (like the person's name, the city's population, the weather on that day). This makes it easy to work with a lot of data. You can quickly find specific information, calculate averages, or even spot trends.
In both machine learning and statistical analysis, having data in rows and columns makes it easier to work with, sort, and understand large amounts of information. It's like having a well-organized filing system where you know exactly where to find what you need.

Parting Thoughts

So these were the basic differences between row and column. Hopefully, by knowing these differences, you have acquired more clarity in how they are used in a variety of situations, from Excel to relational databases.


Which side is row in Excel?

Row is on the left side of an Excel spreadsheet that runs from left to right.

What is a column in a table?

It is the number of cells that run vertically in a table. The list of values in a column must belong to a specific field, but each value is a unique record.

About the Author
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager

Aquib is a seasoned wordsmith, having penned countless blogs for Indian and international brands. These days, he's all about digital marketing and core management subjects - not to mention his unwavering commitment ... Read Full Bio