Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Deleting Blank Columns.

Deleting Blank Columns

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 10, 2021)

2

When importing information from an external source, it is possible that the data will contain blank columns—columns with nothing in them. If you import a lot of data, then deleting these columns can be a bother. There are a couple of ways you can approach how to delete these columns.

The first approach works very well if your data is sorted by column. In other words, the data that you import is in ascending order, or you want it in sorted order. In this case, follow these steps:

  1. Select the columns that represent your data. Make sure you select, as part of the range, all the blank columns as well.
  2. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Sort tool. Excel displays the Sort dialog box.
  4. Click the Options button. Excel displays the Sort Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Sort Options dialog box.

  6. Choose the Sort Left to Right radio button.
  7. Click on OK to dismiss the Sort Options dialog box.
  8. Using the first Sort By drop-down list, specify the row by which you want to sort.
  9. Click on OK.

When sorting in this manner, all the empty columns end up "pushed" to the right, and your data is in a sorted order.

If you don't want your data sorted, then you can use a nifty macro that will check for blank columns in a selected range and then delete those columns. The following macro will do the trick:

Sub DeleteEmptyColumns()
    first = Selection.Column
    last = Selection.Columns(Selection.Columns.Count).Column
    For i = last To first Step -1
        If WorksheetFunction.CountBlank(ActiveSheet.Columns(i)) _
          = ActiveSheet.Rows.Count Then
            Columns(i).Delete
        End If
    Next i
End Sub

To use the macro, select the range of columns in which you want blank columns deleted. The macro steps through the columns and if the column is truly blank, it is deleted. You should note that this macro will delete only columns that are truly empty. If cells within a column include a formula that returns a zero value (and you have the display of zeros values turned off) or that returns an empty string, then the column isn't empty—it contains formulas. In this case, the column won't be deleted.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6149) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Deleting Blank Columns.

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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What is two more than 3?

2021-04-11 04:35:45

JohnT

I often do this, import text into Excel and then want to clean it up by deleting unwanted rows (or columns) .Often the unwanted ones have something specific to identify them (a value in a given cell) or it could the that the wanted ones have that marker.
So to delete unwanted rows, I add a column usually to the left. Sequence the cells (1 in A1, =A1+1 in A2 and copy it all the way down. Make it fixed (Ctl-A to select all, Ctl-C to copy all, then paste special values.
Now we're set up.
Sort the spread sheet by the column with the markers and quickly delete unwanted rows..
Finally resort by column 1 (with the sequences) and then delete column 1

It's actually a lot easier than it sounds.


2021-04-10 08:17:18

Mark

If you do this import often I'd suggest using Power Query (PQ). Not only can you very easily discard the empty columns you can also perform any other data preparation functions you might need.
I'll admit that as of now it's not trivial to set-up PQ for variable file names but there are some good tips in other web-sites on how to make it more flexible.

One such source is: https://www.excelguru.ca/blog/2014/11/26/building-a-parameter-table-for-power-query/

Thanks


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