How to Select Multiple Cells in Excel

How to Select Multiple Cells in Excel - Technozu

I’ll show you how to select multiple cells in Excel in this tutorial. These cells could be close together (contiguous) or far apart (distributed) (non-contiguous)

While this is a simple task, I’m confident you’ll learn a few new strategies to help you work faster and more efficiently.

So let’s get started!

Select Multiple Cells (that are all contiguous)

If you can select one cell in Excel, I’m sure you can choose many cells as well.

But bear with me as I go through this.

Assume you want to choose cells A1:D10.

The steps to accomplish so are as follows:

  • Select cell A1 with the mouse.
  • Cell A1 should be selected (by using the left mouse button). Maintain your grip on the mouse button.
  • Drag the pointer to cell D10 and release it (so that it covers all the cells between A1 and D10)
  • Keep the mouse button pressed.

Isn’t it simple?

Let’s look at some more examples now.

Select Rows/Columns

You’ll frequently be asked to select a whole row or column (or even multiple rows or columns). These options could include hiding or deleting these rows/columns, moving them around in the worksheet, highlighting them, and so on.

You may pick a row or a column by simply clicking on the row number or column alphabet, just like you can choose a cell in Excel by placing the pointer and clicking the mouse.

Let’s take a look at each of these scenarios one by one.

Select a Single Row/Column

In Excel, here’s how to pick an entire row:

  • Place the cursor on the row number of the row you wish to pick.
  • Select the entire row with the left mouse click Entire row chosen

You’ll notice that the color of the selection changes when you choose the complete row (it becomes a bit darker as compared to the rest of the cell in the worksheet).

You can choose a column in the same way that you can choose a row in Excel (where instead of clicking on the row number, you have to click on the column alphabet, which is at the top of the column).

Select Multiple Rows/Columns

What if you don’t want to pick only one row?

What if you want to select several rows at once?

For instance, suppose you want to select rows 2, 3, and 4 at the same time.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Place the cursor in the second row of the spreadsheet.
  • While your cursor is on row number two, press the left mouse button (keep the mouse button pressed)
  • Hold down the left mouse button and move the pointer down to row 4.
  • Keep the mouse button pressed.

As you can see, this selected three neighboring rows that you had covered with your mouse.

You can choose several columns by following the identical techniques we used to choose three nearby rows.

Select Multiple Non-Adjacent Rows/Columns

What if you want to choose multiple rows that aren’t contiguous to each other?

You could choose to choose row numbers 2, 4, and 7 as an example.

You can’t use the mouse drag technique described above in this scenario since it will select all the rows in between.

You’ll need to use a keyboard and mouse to accomplish this.

In Excel, here’s how to select non-adjacent multiple rows:

Place the cursor in the second row of the spreadsheet.

Keep your keyboard’s Control key pressed.

While your cursor is on row number 2, press the left mouse button.

Keep the mouse button pressed.

Select the next row by moving the pointer over it (row 4 in this case),

Keep your keyboard’s Control key pressed.

While your cursor is on row 4, press the left mouse button. Leave the mouse button pressed once row 4 is also selected.

Row 7 should be selected in the same way.

Leave the Control key

Select numerous rows that aren’t adjacent.

Multiple non-adjacent rows in the worksheet would be selected using the steps above.

You can choose multiple non-adjacent columns with the same way.

Select All the Cells in the Current Table/Data

When you need to pick numerous cells in Excel, you’re usually selecting cells from a specific table or dataset.

A simple keyboard shortcut can be used to do this.

The steps to select all the cells in the current table are as follows:

  • Select any cell in the table or any cell in the data collection.
  • All cells in the table are chosen if you hold down the Ctrl key and then press the A key.

All of the cells in the data set would be selected using the processes above (where Excel considers this data set to extend until it encounters a blank row or column).

When Excel meets a blank row or blank column, it considers the data set to be complete (and hence nothing beyond the blank row/column is selected).

Select All the Cells in the Worksheet

Another often performed activity is to select all of the cells in the worksheet.

I frequently work with data downloaded from several databases, and this data is frequently prepared in a specific way. And as soon as I get this data, the first thing I do is pick all of the cells and delete all of the formatting.

To select all the cells in the active worksheet, follow these steps:

  • Choose the worksheet where you’d like to select all of the cells.
  • Click on the small inverted triangle at the top left part of the worksheet
  • This would select all of the cells in the entire worksheet at once (note that this would not select any object such as a chart or shape in the worksheet).

If you’re a fan of keyboard shortcuts, you can utilize the following one:

A + A + Control (hold the control key and press the A key twice)

You do not need to hit the A key twice if you have selected a blank cell with no data around it (just use Control-A).

Select Multiple Non-Contiguous Cells

You’ll need to select several non-contiguous cells more frequently as you work with Excel (such as A2, A4, A7, etc.)

I’ve included an example where I only want to select records from the United States. And, because these aren’t next to one other, I’ll have to figure out a way to select all of these many cells at once.

You can do this with a combination of keyboard and mouse once more.

The steps to accomplish so are as follows:
  • On the keyboard, hold down the Control key.
  • Select all non-contiguous cells (or ranges of cells) that you want to keep chosen one by one.
  • When done, leave the Control key

When you want to choose non-contiguous rows or columns, use the same method as above. You can pick non-adjacent rows/columns by holding down the Control key.

Select Cells Using Name Box

We’ve seen cases where we were able to manually select cells since they were near together.

However, you may need to pick numerous cells or rows/columns that are spread out over the page in some circumstances.

You can certainly do it manually, but you’ll quickly discover that it’s time-consuming and error-prone.

If you have to do anything again (e.g., choose the same cells or rows/columns), you can save time by using the Name Box.

In Excel, the Name Box is the little field to the left of the formula bar.

When you input a cell reference (or a range reference) in the name box, all of the cells in that range are selected.

Let’s say I want to choose cells A1, K3, and M20, for example.

I’d have to scroll a little if I tried to select these with the mouse because they’re so far away.

This may be acceptable if you just need to do it once in a while, but if you need to choose the same cells frequently, the name box can be used instead.

The procedures to selecting numerous cells using the name box are as follows:

  • Select the name box by clicking on it.
  • Enter the cell references you want to pick (separated by commas) in the name box.
  • Hit the enter key.

All of the cells you’ve entered in the name field will be selected automatically if you follow the instructions above.

One of the chosen cells would be the active cell (and the cell reference of the active cell would now be visible in the name box).

Select a Named Range

You can also utilize the Name Box to refer to the complete named range if you’ve made one in Excel (instead of using the cell references as shown in the method above)

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a Named Range, it’s when you give a cell or a range of cells a name and then use the name instead of the cell reference in calculations.

The steps to quickly establish a Named Range in Excel are as follows:

  1. Choose the cells you want to include in the Named Range.
  • Select the Name field (which is the field adjacent to the formula bar)
  • Enter the name you want to give to the selected range of cells (no spaces allowed). Creating a Named Range Using the Name Box
  • Hit the enter key.

For the cells you picked, the procedures above would generate a Named Range.

Instead of selecting these cells manually, you may now go to the Name box and type the name of the named range (or click on the dropdown icon and select the name from there)

This would choose all of the cells in the Named Range at the same time.

So, these are some of the strategies you can use in Excel to select multiple cells.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.


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