Row vs Column | Difference & Definitions

Commonly Confused Words updated on  February 5, 2024 2 min read

A row consists of people, things, or information placed in a straight line, side by side. A column consists of elements arranged one on top of the other.

In other words, the difference between a row and a column is that a row is horizontal, whereas a column is vertical.

An effective way to distinguish between a row and a column is to remember this rhyme: “row means left to right, column means height.”

Examples: Row in a sentence

Examples: Column in a sentence

The books were aligned in a row from left to right.

The plates were stacked one on top of the other, forming a neat column.

We were seated in the first row.

My baby brother knocked down the column of folded clothes.

The kids were standing in a row for their class photo.

It took me hours to stack the coins into neat and organized columns.

What is a row?

A row is a horizontal arrangement of objects, information, or people. Rows are common in everyday life, from theater seats, which are aligned from left to right, to spreadsheets, where data is organized into horizontal lines across the page.

Examples of rows
A row of ducks can be found swimming in a lake or pond.
Books are often placed neatly on a shelf in a row.
Children are sometimes told to sit next to each other in a row.
Some neighborhoods have rows of houses built side by side.

What is a column?

A column is a vertical arrangement of elements, such as objects or information. The word “column” can describe text printed vertically on a page, data inserted atop and below another in a spreadsheet, or supporting pillars of a building.
“Column” can also denote that something is formed linearly, extending up and down, like a column of smoke coming from a chimney.

Examples of columns
Newspaper articles are often presented vertically in columns.
Books stacked neatly on a desk can be considered a column.
Large, impressive columns are found in front of many ancient Greek buildings.
The columns in the periodic table of elements contain similar chemical properties.

Using rows and columns in spreadsheets

Differentiating between rows and columns is essential, especially when using spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets.

A spreadsheet is a computer program in which data is organized into rows and columns so that it can be sorted and calculated accordingly. Confusing the words “rows” and “columns” can lead you to input information in the wrong box, which can lead to costly mistakes.

Remember, rows run horizontally. In spreadsheets, these are typically labeled numerically.  Columns are vertical and are usually identified alphabetically. “Cells” are where the row and column meet.

For example, in the image below, the highlighted cell is B2.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Commonly confused words



Possum vs opossum

Straw man fallacy

Play on words

Weather vs whether

Post hoc fallacy


Inter vs intra

Fallacy of composition


To vs too

Tu quoque fallacy


Subjective vs objective

Either-or fallacy

Frequently asked questions about row vs column

What are rows?

The term “rows” refers to anything arranged horizontally (i.e., side by side), such as products on a grocery store shelf or desks in a classroom.

What are columns?

The term “columns” describes elements that are placed vertically (e.g., a stack of coins) or formed linearly (e.g., a column of smoke). It can also refer to pillars on the outside of a building (e.g., the columns of ancient Greek buildings).

What are rows and columns in spreadsheets?

In spreadsheet programs like Excel and Google Sheets, rows are the boxes that run from left to right (typically labeled numerically) and columns run up and down (typically labeled alphabetically).


Gina Rancano

Gina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as a certificate in professional and public writing from Florida International University. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading.

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