Deleting Rows before a Cutoff Date

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 4, 2017)

Barry has a large worksheet containing several thousand rows of data. Column B contains a date, and he needs to delete all the rows in which the date in column B is earlier than a specific cutoff date. Barry wonders about the easiest way to do this for so much data.

This is rather easy to do, with the approach you use dependent on how often you need to do it and how you want to work with your data. If you don't care what order your data is in, then the easiest method is what I refer to as the "sort and delete" method:

  1. Select cell B2. (This assumes that B2 is the first date in your rows of data because row 1 contains headers.)
  2. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Sort Oldest to Newest tool. Excel sorts the data according to the dates in column B, with the oldest date in row 2.
  4. Select and delete the rows that contain dates before your cutoff.

This works great if you only need to perform that task once in a while and if you don't mind the rows in the data being reordered. If reordering is a problem, then you may want to add a column to your data and fill that column with values from 1 to however many rows of data you have. You can then perform the "sort and delete" method, but afterwards resort your data based on the values in the column you added.

Of course, you could also use a "filter and delete" method, which will leave your data in its original order without the need of a helper column:

  1. Select cell B2. (This assumes that B2 is the first date in your rows of data because row 1 contains headers.)
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+L. Excel applies AutoFilter to your data. (You should be able to see the small drop-down arrows next to the headers in row 1.)
  3. Click the drop-down arrow next to the Date header in cell B1. Excel displays some sorting and filtering options.
  4. Hover your mouse pointer over the Date Filters option. Excel displays even more options.
  5. Choose the Before option. Excel displays the Custom AutoFilter dialog box.
  6. In the box to the right of "Is Before," specify a date one day after your cutoff date.
  7. Click OK. Excel applies the filter and you can only see those rows that are at or before your cutoff date.
  8. Select all the rows, but not row 1. (That's because row 1 contains your headers.)
  9. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  10. Click the Delete tool. Excel deletes all the selected rows.
  11. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  12. Click the Filter tool to remove the AutoFilter.

If you need to perform the task of removing rows often, then you won't be able to beat the convenience of using a macro. The following macro assumes that you've placed the cutoff date into cell K1. It grabs this date and then looks at each row in your data, deleting any rows that are before this cutoff date.

Sub DeleteRowsBeforeCutoff()
    Dim LastRow As Integer
    Dim J As Integer

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    LastRow = Cells(Rows.Count, 2).End(xlUp).Row
    For J = LastRow To 1 Step -1
        If Cells(J, 2) < [K1] Then
            Cells(J, 2).EntireRow.Delete
        End If
    Next J
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1566) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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