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Row vs Column: The Difference Explained

, November 16, 2019
A row is from left to right. A column is from up to down. These are common terms to describe the structure of data and things. The following are illustrative examples.

Spreadsheets such as Excel are tools for processing tables of data. Rows in a spreadsheet are horizontal from left to right. Columns are vertical from up to down.

Databases

In a database, a row is also known as a record and a column is a field. Conceptually, this is no different from a spreadsheet.

Matrix

A matrix is a two-dimensional structure that contains data organized into rows and columns. Conceptually, this is the same as a database table or spreadsheet.

Tables

Table is a generic term for the two-dimensional grids of rows and columns used in spreadsheets, databases and matrices. For example, tables are commonly used to arrange data and visual elements in a webpage.
 Column A Column B Row 1 some data some data Row 2 some data some data

Physical

Physical things can be organized into rows in columns. For example, seating can be arranged into a grid. In this case, rows are parallel to the front of the room and columns are perpendicular to the front. Another way to say this is that rows go across a room and columns go from front to back.

How to Remember

A column is an architectural term for a support beam that rises vertically through a building. This is a reasonable way to remember the delineation between row and column. Columns always have a vertical feel to them.
 Summary Row Column Definition An arrangement of elements that goes from left to right. An arrangement of elements that goes from up to down. Direction Horizontal Vertical Orientation Parallel to the horizon or the front of a room. Perpendicular to the horizon or the front of a room. Example The front row of desks in a classroom. Columns that are used as vertical structural supports in architecture.

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