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Navigate and Select Data


This information is to help you lay a baseline of skills that will benefit you in more complicated work later on. I’m sure we all know that one person that lists themselves as “Experienced” in Excel, but can’t make a basic pivot table. Don’t do that. Establish your baseline of skills and knowledge of how excel works and then work up from there.

The first thing you should know is that there is always more than one way of doing something in Excel. I like to think of data in my spreadsheet as a Rubix Cube like puzzle where I have my data, I have my end goal, and its all about the clicks, twists, turns, formulas, and formatting in order to reach that goal. Your way may not be the same as someone else’s, and that’s okay.

Data Selection

Selecting all

The column and row headers are your best friend. They make selecting data quick, and any changes you apply to your selection will apply to everything in that column or row.

Clicking on column B for example will select your data in that column, and all of the empty cells past it. The same goes for selecting row 2 and clicking the Select All box (left of column A and above row 1).


Note that there are disadvantages to selecting data in this manner. Let’s say that I got this file as a raw data export and I need to paste it into a template that has formulas in columns E and F. Doing the above selections would remove those formulas because you are pasting the blank raw data cells on top of the ones in the template.

Selecting only data

My preferred method of selecting data is to click with my left mouse button and then drag my mouse cursor to form the selection I want. Only do this when the selections are small, i.e. you can see everything you need to select on your screen already. If your row count is in the hundreds or thousands, do one of the below methods.

Select A1 if you want your headers
Select A2 if you only want your data
For the below examples, let’s assume you have selected A2

Selects all data from A2 to your last column, last row of data

I get a lot of questions from users on where the “End” key is. On most keyboards it is located near the backspace key, often on it’s own “Control Pad” between the alphanumeric keys and the numpad

Selects all data from A2 to the last cell in Column A

Selects all data from A2 to the last cell in Row 1

The arrow key methods will stop at the first blank cell they encounter


1 Comment

  1. Vlookup says:

    […] that you want to find your address in; in this case, J2 through M5. Using the lessons learned in Navigate and Select Data, you can […]

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