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Difference between row and column

In this article, we are going to discuss the comparison between row and column. Although many of us are familiar with both terms, it is still important to know the difference between them. The common difference between them is of directions that are horizontal and vertical. But in this article, we will also see other differences between row and column.

If the basics are not clear, the difference between rows and columns might get confusing. Here, we will discuss both terms separately, and then we will see their comparison. So, without any delay, let's start the topic.


A row is defined as a horizontal arrangement of things. They spread from left to right. It is said to be the group of cells that are arranged horizontally to provide consistency. In a spreadsheet, rows are represented by the numbers written on the left-hand side. The total of the row values is shown at the extreme right. A row is an order where figures or objects are placed in a straight line. In the below diagram, we can see the arrangement of rows placed horizontally form left to right.

row vs column

In the Database management system, rows are called records that contain fields. Each row has a unique number that represents it. In Microsoft excel, there are 1,048,576 numbers of rows. Examples of a row include the seats of a classroom in a school; seats of a movie theatre are allotted as 'row number 2 seat number 101', etc.

The arrangement of data in the form of rows makes the data convenient, prominent, and understandable for the user. So, that is the description of rows. Now let's see the description of columns.


The column is defined as a vertical arrangement of things. It is said to be the group of cells that are aligned vertically. In the Database management system, columns are called fields that contain the collection of characters. They spread from top to bottom. The alphabet generally represents the headings of columns. The total of column values is shown at the extreme bottom. In the below figure, we can see the arrangement of the columns placed vertically from top to bottom.

row vs column

In a table, columns are separated by lines that increase the attractiveness and readability of data. The line between the columns helps to make the comparison between columns and placing them side by side.

In Microsoft excel, there are 16,384 numbers of columns.

Row v/s Column

row vs column

Now, let's see the comparison between row and column. We are comparing both terms on the basis of some characteristics.

On the basis of Row Column
Basic The order of objects in a row is horizontal. In a column, the objects are placed vertically.
Arrangement The arrangement of rows is from left to right. Columns are arranged from top to bottom.
Total The total of the values of rows is shown at extreme right. The total of the values of columns is shown at the extreme bottom.
Known as In DBMS, rows are also known as records. In Matrix, horizontal arrays are rows. In DBMS, columns are known as fields. In Matrix, vertical arrays are columns.
Indication of headings In a spreadsheet, the row headings are indicated by numbers. In a spreadsheet, the columns headings are represented by alphabets.
Example Examples of a row include the seats of a classroom in a school, etc. The examples of a column include an application form.


Some advantages of using tables or rows and columns in workbooks are given below:

  • It enables the uniformity and consistency of data and data sets.
  • Simply adding or deleting rows and columns makes it easier to update data over a period of time.
  • In rows and columns, data can be professionally displayed and examined.
  • You can easily create tables and give them a name, which makes it easier to refer to them.
  • Data can be filtered in MS-Excel to be separated.
  • The comparison and analysis of data are rapid and simple with the help of using various formulas.


The total number of rows and columns that can be present on a spreadsheet often has a maximum. The value here is predetermined. The limitations of a few well-known programs are listed below:

  • Limitation in Google Sheets: A Google sheet restricts the number of cells. The most cells a Google sheet may have in one worksheet or across many worksheets is 5 million. This translates to the fact that it will not permit any further cells once the upper limit of 5 million cells (either columns or Rows) is achieved.
    The total number of columns on Google Sheets is restricted to 18,278, while the number of rows is unlimited. Additionally, there is no restriction on the number of tabs, although this depends on the 5 million cell limit.
    In a new worksheet, the predefined number of cells is 26000, i.e., 26 columns and 100 rows. Users can have a maximum number of 192 worksheets if this limit for columns and rows is followed.
  • Limitations in MS Excel: The maximum number of columns and rows in MS Excel spreadsheets is 16,384 and 1048576, respectively. The final column has the symbol XFD, which stands for column number 16384.
    As you know, there are 26 letters in the alphabet overall and each column is represented by a different letter, the next column number is continuing with the beginning of the letters once more after the 26th column (Column Z).
  • Limitation of rows and columns in the database: Although MySQL restricts a maximum of 4096 columns per table, the actual maximum for a specific database may be fewer due to a variety of circumstances, such as the maximum row size or limitations imposed by storage engines, because the total length of columns cannot be larger than the row size.
    For example, InnoDB restricts the number of columns per table to 1017. For 4KB, 8KB, 16KB, and 32KB page size options, InnoDB sets the row size as less than half a page. That's why if the default page size is 16 KB, the maximum row size is a little under 8 KB.
    Regardless of the fact that the storage engine's potential ability to accommodate more rows, the MySQL table has a maximum row size of 65,535 bytes.

Column vs Row Oriented Database

We have already discussed rows and columns in MS Excel. Now, let's instead examine the meaning of rows and columns in database tables.

There are two different kinds of ways for organizing data in terms of relational databases:

  • Row oriented
  • Column-oriented (This is also known as C-store or Columnar)

Both rows and columns are the primary part of a table and are used to store data. Now, let's see some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to rows and columns.

Let's look at the following table to clarify the difference between these two terms:

row vs column

Row-oriented databases: In these types of databases, records serve as the organizational unit for data. To put it another way, it arranges all the information pertaining to a record next to one another. Furthermore, this indicates that rows are arranged in direct succession.

Since this way of data storing has been widely used for a long period of time, hence, it is referred to as "traditional." Effective reading and writing of rows are one of the most significant benefits of row-oriented databases. Even on the same page, the columns in a single row are placed together (considering the size of the row is smaller as compared to the size of the page).

Performance is improved when a query is executed for several columns of a single row using this style. This situation frequently occurs in online transaction processing (OLTP) applications. PostgreSQL and MySQL are two examples of popular row-oriented databases that come to mind rapidly.

In a row-oriented database, the data in the above table will be shown as follows:

row vs column

Column-oriented databases: Every row of a column is located next to other rows in the same column in columnar databases. Put it into other words, the information from each column is kept in one place on the disk. As it is the fact that the columns are stored together, only blocks containing the necessary data are read, and unnecessary material is skipped.

Data access becomes increasingly speedier as a result. When you are working with a huge amount of data, column-oriented databases are the best option. Column-oriented databases are most frequently used for Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) applications. BigQuery and Amazon Redshift are a couple of prevalent examples.

The below picture demonstrates columnar data storage:

row vs column

Row-oriented vs Column-oriented- Making a Choice

It is time to talk about a significant query that may have come up several times while you are reading about rows and columns. We have been discussing databases, data, rows, and columns. But how will you decide whether to store the data in rows or columns?

Put on another way, should the database be column-oriented or row-oriented?

This is the solution to the conundrum. Without a doubt, one needs that all databases must be fast in speed. In order for the queries that are run to respond quickly, the best database must be chosen.

A few kinds of queries can run faster with a simple change in how data is stored in memory, which will affect the performance of databases. As was previously said, row-oriented databases and column-oriented databases have different fundamental architectures for storing data.

As the names describe, row-oriented databases function on rows with horizontal partitions, while column-oriented databases work on columns with vertical partitions. This decision could have a significant effect on the performance of the query.

When the data that has to be retrieved is primarily stored in columns, and there is no need to execute a query for each field in the rows, a columnar store is a better option in this situation. A row store, on the other hand, is a preferable option if numerous columns in each row are required to identify the relevant rows.

The advantage of columnar stores is that partial reads are more effective. This is due to the low amount of data that is loaded because only the pertinent information from the record is read. Row stores are said to as "traditional" since columnar stores are considered to be more recent than row stores.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1 - Define row and column in a matrix.

Answer 1 - In a matrix, the horizontal arrangement of the numbers is called rows, and the vertical arrangement of data is called columns.

Question 2 - How the headings of rows and columns are represented in a spreadsheet?

Answer 2 - In a spreadsheet, the headings of rows are represented with numbers, whereas the headings of columns are represented with alphabets.

Question 3 - How elements are arranged in rows and columns?

Answer 3 - In rows, elements are arranged from left to right, whereas in columns, elements are arranged from top to bottom.

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