Selecting Cells

Excel allows you to select cells in several different ways, using both the mouse and the keyboard.

Selecting with a mouse by dragging

Look at the following example. It contains 16 cells filled with data. To select them, click cell B2 and drag the cursor to cell E5. After you release the mouse button the cells will be selected. You can start selecting them from any corner of the table.

Selecting cells by using the Shift key

In the second method of selecting data, we will use the Shift key. In this case, click any corner of the table, then, while holding down the Shift key, click the opposite corner.

Selecting cells with the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut

To use the third method, click any cell that is located in the table, then use the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut.

Selecting the entire worksheet with the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut

To select all cells in a worksheet, use Ctrl + A twice or click the icon in the upper-left corner of the worksheet.

Selecting non-adjacent cells

If you want to choose non-adjacent cells, click or click and drag different cells while holding down the Ctrl key.

Excel 365 Update

  • Improved Navigation Pane: Introduced in Excel 2013 (but worth mentioning for users familiar with 2016), the Navigation Pane offers a convenient way to jump to specific sheets, named ranges, or defined names within a workbook. This can indirectly improve selection efficiency, especially when working with large spreadsheets.
  • Select by Color:¬†Excel 365 allows selecting cells based on their fill color or font color. This can be useful for quickly targeting specific data points that share a visual characteristic.
  • Extend Selection with Drag and Drop: Briefly mention that dragging the selection border while holding Ctrl allows adding or removing cells to the selection. This technique can be helpful for building non-contiguous selections.
  • Conditional Formatting for Highlighting:¬†Similar to selecting entire rows or columns, conditional formatting can be used to visually distinguish cells meeting specific criteria. This can aid in selecting groups of cells that share those characteristics.

Tomasz Decker is an Excel specialist, skilled in data analysis and financial modeling.