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Select cell contents

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In Excel, select cell contents to help manage your work efficiently across a workbook.

Select a cell

  • You can select a cell using a mouse or by navigating to that cell using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Select a cell range

  • Select a cell, hold the right bottom edge of the cell and drag over the cell range you want to select.

  • Or to select a range using the keyboard, hold the Shift key while navigating across the cell range using the arrow keys.

Select a row, column, or worksheet

  • Use one of the following methods to select a column:

    • If you donā€™t want to select the title of the column, select the cell below the title, press Shift, and then double-click the bottom edge of that cell.

    • To select the entire column, select any cell in that column (for e.g., A2), and then press Ctrl + Space.

  • To select the entire row, select any cell in that row (for e.g., A2), and then press Shift + Space.

  • To select a list, select any cell in that list, and then press Ctrl + A.

  • To select the entire worksheet, select any cell and press Ctrl + A + A.

  • To select a table without the heading or title of the table, select any cell and then press Ctrl + A.

  • To select a table with heading or title of the table, select any cell in that table and then press Ctrl + A + A.

  • To select the entire worksheet which is in table format, select any cell and then press Ctrl + A + A.

  • Select the letter at the top of a column to select the entire column.

  • You can also select the Select All Select All button at the top left corner of the worksheet to select the entire worksheet.

Select non-adjacent columns

  • Hold Ctrl while selecting the column headings of the non-adjacent columns. For example, hold Ctrl and select A, C, E, G, H, I, K.

Select non-contiguous cells or ranges

  • Hold Ctrl while selecting non-contiguous cells or ranges.

Type data in non-contiguous cells at once

  1. Select non-contiguous cells.

  2. Start typing data.

  3. Press Ctrl + Enter.

Hide columns

  1. Select a column.

  2. Right-click and select Hide.

Hide non-contiguous columns

  1. Select non-contiguous column ranges.

  2. Right-click one of the selected column ranges and select Hide.

Copy only visible columns

  1. Select a cell range with hidden columns.

  2. Press Alt + ; and then Ctrl + C to copy only visible columns.

  3. You can paste them in any worksheet in your workbook by simply pressing Ctrl + V.

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

In this worksheet maybe I want to copy all those names from column A to a different worksheet.

I don't want the title, I'm going to click right here in cell A2.

If I want to highlight all the cells from here downward, I'll be holding down the Shift key and take one of two actions.

I'll either double click the bottom edge, see what's happening, I've highlighted all the cells.

Whenever you do have cells highlighted, if you'd like to move around the corners of the range, you can press Ctrl + period.

I'm holding down Ctrl, I'll press period. It moves me to here then back up top.

I'm pressing Ctrl + period, simply moving around the corners, so if I wanted to copy that, I can press Ctrl + C and paste it somewhere else.

If I wanted the entire column, I could simply click in column A somewhere and press Ctrl + Spacebar, that's another way to select the column, that's easy enough too.

At other times, I might want to copy the data from a row, I might want to copy the data for Lisa Page, I'll press Shift + Spacebar, so Shift + Spacebar selects the entire row.

Now do I have any data off to the right there?

If I do, I'm about to pick up that data, so that might not always be what you want to do, but there could be situations where you want to select the entire row and maybe not just for copying, but maybe for formatting, so Ctrl + Spacebar selects an entire column, maybe think of control and column both beginning with the letter c, but for the other one, you just have to remember it, Shift + Spacebar selects the entire row.

There are times when you want to select the entire worksheet or maybe just an entire list. I'm going to scroll back a bit.

On this worksheet, there's other data off to the right.

I might want to highlight those yellow cells. Let's face it, most of us probably just click and drag across it, but I can click within the yellow list over there and press Ctrl + A.

If I press Ctrl + A again, it highlights the entire worksheet like that.

If I click on the list to the left somewhere, anywhere in here, and even on an empty cell within the list here, it's okay too, if I click within there and press Ctrl + A, I'm highlighting just the contiguous data.

This will extend out to column N on the right and over to column A on the left and all the way down.

And I can press Ctrl + period if I want to make sure that I've highlighted all the data that maybe I'm about to copy for example.

I'll press Ctrl + period a few times.

This moves the active cell around the corners.

Now you can also highlight a list by pressing control asterisk, not necessarily better than Ctrl + A, but that does the same thing.

Remember, for those of you using laptops, the asterisk is probably not on its own separate key, so it will be Ctrl + Shift eight, or Ctrl + Shift asterisk, separate way there.

Now, sometimes you do want to highlight the entire worksheet, maybe you want a font change, a color change, or maybe just want to delete all the data.

If you click in an empty cell that's not part of a list, for example, maybe we're out here, click out here.

If I press Ctrl + A, I'm selecting the entire worksheet.

Now because Ctrl + A has different meanings, in other words, if I click in Ctrl + A, Ctrl + A highlights that list or I click over here, it highlights this list.

In both of those situations, pressing Ctrl + A twice, and you don't have to let go of control, but I'm holding down control for example.

I'll press A twice, highlights the entire worksheet.

Click on the data to the left, hold down Ctrl, press A twice, highlights the entire worksheet, but another way to highlight the entire worksheet quickly without having to press Ctrl + A twice, click in the upper left hand corner just above the row numbers to the left of the column letters.

That selects the entire worksheet. Now sometimes you work with tables.

The next worksheet over has a table in it.

When you click within a table and press Ctrl + A, you're highlighting all of the table except for the title row, Ctrl + A, and that might not be obvious, depending upon the color scheme.

When you press Ctrl + A again, it will add that title row and press it a third time, it will highlight the entire worksheet.

I just might want every other column to be different in color, so I'll click column A and now with the Ctrl key held down, I'll just keep it held down, I'll click column C, E, G, I, and K.

And then on the Home tab, in the Font group here, the Fill Color bucket, maybe I'll just make a light blue color there and I might keep it that way for a while or I might not, but I was able to select the non-adjacent cells quickly and easily.

I'm not going to keep this, I'll just press Ctrl + Z.

And we can use this in other ways too. I'm going to jump over to the profits sheet here.

Maybe I'm about to pass this on to a friend of mine or maybe I'm going to be using this in a meeting. I want to highlight certain cells ahead of time.

Maybe the numbers are unusual or I want to talk about this particular expense or sales number. I'm going to select this May number right here.

Maybe I'm going to be comparing it with a previous year. I want to select another cell too, it's this 20 down here, which maybe is unusually low and this 140 here which is unusually high, perhaps.

I highlight the ones I want using the Ctrl key to select non-adjacent cells, and again, I might just apply a background color or make them Bold, something like that, make them stand out from the others somewhat differently.

So it's easy to set these up.

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