Copying Columns for Different Views of the Same Data


Origin has a feature called Copy Columns to that allows you to copy one or more columns from one or more worksheets into new columns in a worksheet. The copied columns are linked to the source data and update when the source data updates.** It’s useful in a number of scenarios. In this blog post, I will focus on two:

  • Sorting imported Data Connector data.
  • Creating multiple views of the same filtered data based on different filter criteria

** This is dependent on the Recalculation mode when setting up the copy process.

Sorting Imported Data Connector Data

By their nature, Origin’s Data Connectors bring in data in the order in which it is in the source file or URL. This means that were you to sort the data in the imported worksheet, that sorting would be lost in subsequent imports from the same file.

This issue can be overcome by using Copy Columns to to create a second view (worksheet) of the imported data. You’d then use that view of the imported data for graphing and analysis. You can copy as few or as many columns you think you may need. The sorting is performed based on one column during the process of copying the columns. Watch this brief video about how this can be done.

Observe in the video that I copied all four columns. Also observe how, in the Copy Columns to dialog, I specified the column to sort the copied data on.

Now, when I re-import the data, my sorting order will be preserved. It’s very simple and effective!

Creating Multiple Views of the Same Filtered Data based on Different Filter Criteria

The next use of Copy Columns to that I’ll discuss is based on the need to apply a filter to a column and create multiple views of the data based on different filter criteria. Let’s say you have data based on country and want to graph or analyze each country separately. You can’t do this with just one worksheet because every time the filter changes, all associated graphs and analyses update based on the changed filter criteria.

So, what can be done is to apply a filter criteria, Copy Columns to another worksheet, and “Lock” the filter in the copied columns. This preserves the criteria for those columns. Now, you can change the filter criteria in the source worksheet and it won’t effect the copied columns. Watch this video to learn how to do this:

Observe that the copied columns have “Germany” as the filter criteria. Then I go back to the source worksheet and change the filter to “United States”. Still, back in the copied columns, the filter remains as “Germany”.

If I repeat this process for every country, I am able to graph and/or analyze each countries data individually. It’s not a complicated process but it did require some explanation.


I hope this post has provided some insight into a feature in Origin that you may not be aware of but either have wanted to do or may want to do in the future. Thanks for reading it.

About Chris Drozdowski

Chris Drozdowski is a Product Support Engineer at OriginLab. He loves to talk to customers and educate them. He particularly relishes diagnosing and solving difficult, edge-case issues. As well, he contributes code to help solve problems or enhance user experience. In his down time at work, he likes to research and write about esoteric product features. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his family, having fun with C++, working on his aquarium, and exploring craft beers.

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