Select cells, ranges, rows, or columns on a worksheet

On a worksheet, you can select cells, ranges, rows, or columns — for example, to format the data in the selection, or to insert other cells, rows, or columns. You can also select all or part of the cell contents and turn on Editing mode so that you can modify the data.

You can select cells and ranges in a Microsoft Excel table just as you would select them in a worksheet, but selecting table rows and columns is different from selecting worksheet rows and columns.

Note   If a worksheet has been protected, you might not be able to select cells or their contents on a worksheet.

What do you want to do?

Select cells, ranges, rows, or columns

Select the contents of a cell

Select rows and columns in an Excel table

Learn more

Select cells, ranges, rows, or columns

To select

Do this

A single cell

Click the cell, or press the arrow keys to move to the cell.

A range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then drag to the last cell, or hold down SHIFT while you press the arrow keys to extend the selection.

You can also select the first cell in the range, and then press F8 to extend the selection by using the arrow keys. To stop extending the selection, press F8 again.

A large range of cells

Click the first cell in the range, and then hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell in the range. You can scroll to make the last cell visible.

A large range of cells without scrolling

Click the first cell in the range to select it, and then click in the Name box at the left end of the formula bar.

Name box

Name box

Type the cell reference of the last cell in the range that you want to be selected, and then hold down SHIFT while you press ENTER.

All cells on a worksheet

Click the Select All button.

Select All button

To select the entire worksheet, you can also press CTRL+A.

Note If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+A selects the current region. Pressing CTRL+A a second time selects the entire worksheet.

Nonadjacent cells or cell ranges

Select the first cell or range of cells, and then hold down CTRL while you select the other cells or ranges.

You can also select the first cell or range of cells, and then press SHIFT+F8 to add another nonadjacent cell or range to the selection. To stop adding cells or ranges to the selection, press SHIFT+F8 again.

Note You cannot cancel the selection of a cell or range of cells in a nonadjacent selection without canceling the entire selection.

An entire row or column

Click the row or column heading.

Worksheet headings

Row heading.

Column heading

You can also select cells in a row or column by selecting the first cell and then pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

Note If the row or column contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key selects the row or column to the last used cell. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW key a second time selects the entire row or column.

Adjacent rows or columns

Drag across the row or column headings. Or select the first row or column; then hold down SHIFT while you select the last row or column.

Nonadjacent rows or columns

Click the column or row heading of the first row or column in your selection; then hold down CTRL while you click the column or row headings of other rows or columns that you want to add to the selection.

The first or last cell in a row or column

Select a cell in the row or column, and then press CTRL+ARROW key (RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW for rows, UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW for columns).

The first or last cell on a worksheet or in a Microsoft Office Excel table

Press CTRL+HOME to select the first cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list.

Press CTRL+END to select the last cell on the worksheet or in an Excel list that contains data or formatting.

Cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner)

Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END to extend the selection of cells to the last used cell on the worksheet (lower-right corner).

Cells to the beginning of the worksheet

Select the first cell, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+HOME to extend the selection of cells to the beginning of the worksheet.

More or fewer cells than the active selection

Hold down SHIFT while you click the last cell that you want to include in the new selection. The rectangular range between the active cell and the cell that you click becomes the new selection.

Tip   To cancel a selection of cells, click any cell on the worksheet.

Note   

  • Excel marks selected cells or ranges by highlighting them. These highlights do not appear in a printout. If you want to display cells with a highlight when you print a worksheet, you can use formatting features to apply cell shading.

  • When SCROLL LOCK is on, Scroll Lock is displayed on the status bar. Pressing an arrow key while SCROLL LOCK is on will scroll one row up or down or one column left or right. To use the arrow keys to move between cells, you must turn SCROLL LOCK off.

  • If the selection is extended when you click a cell or press keys to move around the worksheet, it may be because you pressed F8 or SHIFT+F8 to extend or add to the selection. In this case, Extend Selection or Add to Selection is displayed on the status bar. To stop extending or adding to a selection, press F8 or SHIFT+F8 again.

Top of Page

Select the contents of a cell

To select the contents of a cell

Do this

In the cell

Double-click the cell, and then drag across the contents of the cell that you want to select.

In the formula bar Button image

Click the cell, and then drag across the contents of the cell that you want to select in the formula bar.

By using the keyboard

Press F2 to edit the cell, use the arrow keys to position the insertion point, and then press SHIFT+ARROW key to select the contents.

Top of Page

Select rows and columns in an Excel table

You can select cells and ranges in a table just as you would select them in a worksheet, but selecting table rows and columns is different from selecting worksheet rows and columns.

To select

Do this

A table column with or without table headers

Click the top edge of the column header or the column in the table. The following selection arrow appears and indicates that clicking selects the column.

Table column selection arrow

Note    Clicking the top edge one time selects the table column data; clicking it two times selects the whole table column.

You can also click anywhere in the table column, and then press CTRL+SPACEBAR, or you can click the first cell in the table column, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+DOWN ARROW.

Note    Pressing CTRL+SPACEBAR one time selects the table column data; pressing CTRL+SPACEBAR two times selects the whole table column.

A table row

Click the left border of the table row. The following selection arrow appears, and indicates that clicking selects the row.

Table row selection arrow

You can click the first cell in the table row, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW.

All table rows and columns

Click the upper-left corner of the table. The following selection arrow appears, and indicates that clicking selects the table data in the entire table.

Table corner selection arrow

Click the upper-left corner of the table two times to select the whole table, including the table headers.

You can also click anywhere in the table, and then press CTRL+A to select all table data in the table, or you can click the upper-left most cell in the table, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+END.

Press CTRL+A two times to select the whole table, including the table headers.

Top of Page

Learn more

Note   In some cases, selecting a cell may result in the selection of multiple adjacent cells as well. For tips on how to resolve this issue, see this post How do I stop excel from highlighting two cells at once? in the community.

Applies To: Excel Starter, Excel 2010



Was this information helpful?

Yes No

How can we improve it?

255 characters remaining

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. Review our privacy policy.

Thank you for your feedback!

Support resources

Change language