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4.3.6 Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows

In addition to the Long Name, the Origin worksheet header area allows other supporting information that might be associated with the dataset to be displayed. By default, the workbook template that ships with Origin only shows the Long Name, Units, Comments and F(x) row headings.

Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows.png

In some cases -- for instance, when importing data files in which header information has been pre-defined -- these optional worksheet row headings and the supporting information will display automatically. The information contained in these header rows then becomes available for plotting and analysis operations.

Note, however, that once an optional header row has been displayed, you can manually enter information in any header row cell by double-clicking on the cell and editing the cell contents. Data in these fields do not have to derive from file import operations in order to be displayed or to be used in any of the enhanced worksheet and plotting operations that make use of header row (column heading) data. The text and numbers in these header rows -- like text and numbers in data rows -- can be formatted using the Style and Format toolbar buttons.

For information on the worksheet column Long Name, see Origin worksheet column naming conventions.

Also, be sure to see Simple Utilities for Filling Columns with Data.

Note: The functionality discussed in this page is available to users writing LabTalk script. For more information, see Column Label Row Characters.

Displaying supporting information in column label rows

By default, the Origin worksheet template displays four column label rows -- Long Name, Units, Comments and F(x)= (column formula). These column label rows can be added to or hidden depending on your need to display supporting information in the worksheet.

There are two ways to control label row display:

  • Right-click on (a) the window's title bar or (b) the empty space to the right of the worksheet columns (but inside the workbook window) and choose View from the shortcut menu (see the picture below) and make your row heading display selections.
Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows-02.png
  • Right-click in the area of the worksheet column label rows and choose Edit Column Label Rows from the shortcut menu. This opens the Column Label Rows dialog box where you can select those label rows that you wish to display. Drag to reorder label rows or double-click to rename UserDefined parameters.
Edit column label rows5.png


The Units row stores the units for the worksheet data columns. Origin can make use of this information to annotate graphs. For instance, if the Long Name and Units are specified, they can be used to automatically label the X and Y axes of a 2D graph.

Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows-3.png

Another possible use for the Long Name and Units information is in the graph legend.

Note to upgrade users: When opening Origin project files (.OPJ) created with versions 7.5 or older, the second line of the old column Label property is assigned to the Units field.

For more information, see Origin Child Window Naming Conventions.


Each worksheet column can have one or more lines of Comments. Multiple comment lines can be typed into the Comments cell by pressing CTRL + ENTER at the end of each line. If you are importing files in which you've pre-defined multiple lines of comments, these are preserved and placed in the Comments cell.

Note to upgrade users: When opening Origin project files (.OPJ) created with versions 7.5 or older, the third line and any remaining lines of the old column Label property, are assigned to the Comments field.

For more information, see Origin Child Window Naming Conventions.


The F(x)= header row displays either:

  • The column formula. This is a mathematical expression that is typically used to fill the column with values.
  • The Formula Text. This is alternate text that can be typed directly into the cell or entered into the Formula Text dialog box to display in place of the column formula. For instance, when displaying a long formula in the cell is not practical, enable display of the Formula Text and display some reminder as to what the column formula calculates.

Direct editing of the cell can be turned on (default) or off. To turn off direct editing of F(x)=:

  1. Open Set Values (with the column selected, choose Column: Set Column Values).
  2. Click the Options menu.
  3. Clear the check mark next to Direct Edit Formula Cell.

For help with creating column formulas, see Set Values, Quick Start and Set Values, Options Menu.

Use the Hotkey CTRL + SHIFT + U to show/hide the F(x)= row. You also can hide/show this row using corresponding shortcut menus, see this section.

Creating the F(x)= expression

Expressions are entered into the F(x)= cell in one of three ways:

  • Double-click on the cell and type an expression directly into the cell (assumes direct-edit is not disabled, as discussed in the previous section).
  • Enter an expression in the upper panel of the Set Values dialog box.
  • Enter an expression using a shortcut menu command (see next section).

Beginning with Origin 2017, you can use a simpler spreadsheet notation when defining your column formulas. This new notation supports references to data in other books and sheets. For more information, see Column Short Name Restriction and Column Formula Examples.

F(x)= shortcut menu commands

Assuming direct editing is enabled, you can right-click on the F(x) cell, and enter information into the cell using one of the following:

Copy / Paste

Copy or paste the column formula to or from the clipboard. Note: the contents of the (Set Values) Before Formula Scripts box will not be included.

Load / Save As

Load a pre-saved column formula or save the current column formula. The contents of the (Set Values) Before Formula Scripts box will be included.

Open Dialog

Open the Set Values dialog for advanced options.


The Categories column label row displays when you have designated the worksheet column as containing categorical data (select the column, right-click and choose Set as Categorical ). The cell contents will show (a) whether data are sorted or unsorted (<auto> is selected) or (b) a space-separated list of categories:

  • If you double-click this cell, you open the Categories dialog box (same as the Column Properties, Categories tab), with controls for display of the categorical data in this column.
  • If you right-click this cell, you open a "categorical" shortcut menu that duplicates some key Categories tab controls.
  1. Set or clear column as categorical
  2. Copy categories (includes setting the column as categorical)
  3. Paste categories (includes setting the column as categorical)
  4. Set as <auto> (displays sorting info, dynamically generates categories from list) or display space-separated categories (not dynamically updated)
  5. Load previously saved categories (default path is \User Files\Categories\)
  6. Save categories to file
  7. Choose Properties to open the Categories dialog box

For information on creating and customizing graph legends for plots of categorical data, see Legends for Categorical Data.


The Parameters rows can be used for displaying supporting data such as temperature, pressure, humidity, wavelength, etc. but since these built-in parameters cannot be renamed, most will find the UserDefined parameters to be more useful.

For an example of how worksheet Parameter information might be incorporated into an Origin graph, see Customizing Waterfall Plots.

To manually add a single parameter to the worksheet:

  1. Right-click in the upper-left corner of the worksheet and select View: Parameters from the shortcut menu
  2. Enter parameters directly in the Parameters row cell(s).

To manually add multiple parameters to the worksheet:

  1. Enter the parameter information directly into the upper-most rows of data (Insert rows, if necessary).
  2. Select the row headers of the rows that you intend to mark as containing parameters, right-click and select Set As Parameters. The parameters row headings are applied with each successive parameter being enumerated by 1.
  3. Enter parameters directly in the Parameters row cell(s).

Sampling Interval

In an effort to reduce file size, some data files -- particularly those consisting of data collected at regular intervals -- may exclude the independent variable (X column). When this is the case, the Sampling Interval row will display the sampling (X) interval. You can see a quick demonstration of how this works by dragging and dropping a .WAV file into the Origin workspace.

Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows-4.png


Sparklines can provide a quick view of a set of related datasets contained in the Y columns in a worksheet. This is much easier than creating individual graph windows for each XY plot and then attempting to arrange them in the workspace so that they can all be viewed simultaneously.

Each sparkline is an editable embedded graph which can be opened by double-clicking on the sparkline object (see the picture below) above each column of worksheet data. Additions to the graph are stored -- though not necessarily displayed -- in the embedded object. Hovering on a sparkline shows a preview of the data plot.

Sparklines popup.png

See the section on Embedding Graphs and Images in Worksheet Cells.

User-Defined Parameters

You can add any number of user-defined parameter rows and assign any name to them.

To add a user-defined parameter row to the worksheet header:

  1. Right click on any column label row and select Add User Parameters from the context menu.


  1. Activate the worksheet and select Format: Worksheet from the menu. This opens the Worksheet Properties dialog box.
  2. Click the Edit Column Label Rows button to open the Column Label Rows dialog box.
  3. Right-click in the empty space below the labels and choose Add User-Defined Parameter from the shortcut menu.
    Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows-6.png
  4. Double-click on the word "UserDefined" to edit the label.
  5. Use the Show boxes to control which labels to show or hide.
  6. Drag the grid cells (see the picture below) to the left side of the Labels column to rearrange the label order in the worksheet header rows.
    Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows-7.png

Note that user-defined parameter rows can also be created on data import, provided your data files contain metadata in the header and you have pre-defined parameters using the Origin Import Wizard.

  • To move the contents of a built-in label row (e.g. Comments) to a user-defined parameter row, double-click on the built-in row heading; or right-click and choose Set As User Parameter. These actions open a Move to User Parameter Row box where you can enter the name of your user-defined parameter and move the row content to the user-defined parameter row.
  • To rename a user-defined parameter, double-click on the parameter row heading and enter a name in the Rename box.
  • While all label row data are stored as string data, numeric-like data in Parameters and User-Defined Parameters rows can be formatted like numeric data. Right-click on a row header or cell, select Set Parameters Style: More and choose Properties. On the Format tab, set Format and Display.

Formatting User Parameters Data

All worksheet column label row data are stored as strings, even data that appear to be numeric. User Parameter rows do support the formatting of data that have the appearance of being numeric (e.g. a Julian date value such as "2458395"). Other column label rows cannot be so formatted.

  1. Right-click on a row heading.
  2. From the shortcut menu, choose Set User-Defined Style: More. This opens the Worksheet Properties dialog box for the selected cells.
  3. Click the Format tab and set Format and Display drop-down lists to the desired format.
Format worksheet header param rows.png
  • When formatting column label row data as Text & Numeric, Date or Time data, you do not have the same Custom Display options that are available, for instance, in the Column Properties dialog box. You must choose an existing option from the Format Cells dialog's Display drop-down list.
  • You can apply formatting to Date and Time data only if the string stored in the user-defined parameter row is in numeric form (i.e. a Julian Date value as used internally by Origin). Formatting such numeric strings will also allow you to use these column label row values for calculation purposes such as in a worksheet cell formula (e.g. =value(wcol(j)[D1]$)).
  • The user should always remember that despite whatever formatting options are applied, column label row data are still string data -- not numeric data.

Define a Formula when you Add User Parameters

You can add a user-parameter row to the worksheet expressly for the purpose of calculating some column statistic, such as mean or standard deviation.

  1. Right-click on the column label row headings and choose Add User Parameters from the shortcut menu.
  2. In the Add User Parameters dialog that opens, enter a name for your user-defined row, then click the flyout menu to pick from a list of common statistics. The statistic will be calculated for each data-containing column in the worksheet.
User parameter define formula.png

To make changes to a User Parameter row Name or Formula, right-click on the User Parameter row heading and choose Edit from the shortcut menu.

Shortcut Menu for Column Label Rows

The right-click menu of the column label rows offers controls to edit worksheet headers.

Insert Parameters or User Parameters

Select Insert:Parameters/User Parameters from the right-click menu to insert the Parameter or a User Parameter above current column label row.

Hide/Show Column Label Rows

To hide one or more rows, you can right-click on column label row to select Hide or Clear and Hide from the context menu. If you select Clear and Hide, the information in the current label row will be cleared up and the entire row will be hidden.

Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows 09.png

To show the hidden column label rows, you can do selections from the View shortcut menu or go to the Column Label Rows dialog. See the details in this section.

Rename Row Label

To rename the row label for column label rows:

  1. Right click on the column label row, select Rename… from the context menu.
  2. Enter a new name in the Rename dialog.
  3. Click OK to close the dialog.

Note: If either the Long Name, Units, or Comment fields are renamed, they will change into a user-defined parameter automatically (see "tip" under User-defined Parameters).

Edit Customize Label Rows

Right click on the column label row and select Edit Column Label Rows... from the context menu, it will open the Column Label Rows dialog. In this dialog, you can hide/show a column label, reorder label rows, add a user-defined parameter, and specify the height for each label row.

Move Column Label Rows

To move column label rows:

  1. Right click on the column label row, select Move Column Label Rows, then select Move to Top/to Button/Up/Down in context menu.
    Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows 10.png

Set Other Rows as Label Rows

To set one or more rows (column label rows or data rows) as three of the standard column headings (Long Name, Short Name and Units), system parameters or user-defined parameters, right-click and select Set As Long Name/Units/Comment/Parameters/User Parameters from the context menu.

Append Rows to Label Rows

To append one or more rows to column Long Name or Comment:

  1. Right-click on one or more rows (column label rows or data rows), select Append To Comment/Long Name from the context menu.
    Displaying Supporting Data in Worksheet Header Rows 08.png

Set Styles

To change the text style in the label rows, right click on one column label row, point to the Set Label Name Style menu item, you can set the text in the label rows to rich text, wrap text and/or Float. By clicking the More... item, you can directly go to the format tab of worksheet properties.

Copy and Paste Column Label Rows

You can copy and paste column label row data:

  • To copy only label rows, highlight the source column(s), right-click and choose Copy : Copy (label rows) from context menu, or press Ctrl+Shift+J. Select the destination column(s), then right-click and choose Paste from context menu, or press Ctrl+V.
  • To copy label rows + data, highlight the source column(s), right-click and choose Copy: Copy (including label rows).
  • To copy the formula row, label rows and data rows, highlight the source column(s), right-click and choose Copy: Copy All or press Ctrl + Shift + A.

Column labels rows that are not turned on in the destination column(s) will automatically be turned on, as needed, but the Order of column label rows in the destination column(s) may differ.

As of Origin 2016 SR1, empty label rows will not be copied and pasted. This includes when copying and pasting to another application such as MS Excel. Note that sparklines are never copied and pasted.


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