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: AutoFilling from a Custom List.

AutoFilling from a Custom List

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 19, 2020)

3

A great timesaver when entering data is to use Excel's AutoFill feature. To use the feature, enter enough cells that Excel can figure out how you want to fill the remaining cells in a series. For instance, enter 1 and 2 into two cells, or 5 and 10 into two others, or Monday and Tuesday. Select the two cells and then click and drag the Fill handle at the bottom-right corner of the selection border.

As cool as AutoFill is, an even cooler timesaving feature is to define your own series of values that AutoFill can use. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. If you are using Excel 2007, make sure Popular is selected at the left of the dialog box. If you are using Excel 2010 or a later version, click Advanced and then scroll toward the end of the options until you see the General area.
  3. Click Edit Custom Lists. Excel displays the Custom Lists dialog box and hides the Excel Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Custom Lists dialog box.

  5. Select NEW LIST in the Custom Lists list.
  6. In the List Entries portion of the dialog box, start typing the items in your fill series, in the order they should appear. For instance, you might type a list of department managers in alphabetic order. Press Enter at the end of each element.
  7. When you are done, click the Add button.
  8. Click OK to close the Custom Lists dialog box. The Excel Options dialog box reappears.
  9. Click OK to close the Excel Options dialog box.

You can now use the custom list for the AutoFill feature. Simply type whatever entry from the custom list you want to start with, select the cell, and then drag the Fill handle. Excel fills the selected cells with the items from your custom list, in order.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6241) 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: AutoFilling from a Custom List.

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 five more than 5?

2019-08-21 06:14:37

Richard Curtis

I just tried a different approach, defining a custom number format. Here is a simple example: "xxch"0"yy". In this case, a channel number has a prefix 'xx' and a suffix 'yy'. Apply this format to a range of cells (in my case, 16 cells in a column). Type 1, 2, 3 in the first three cells and autofill to the end. This gives a sequential list starting with xxch1yy and finishing with xxch16yy.
This format is only available in the current workbook, but that's okay for me.


2019-08-21 05:58:11

Richard Curtis

I'm generating some unique text strings to represent multi-channel electronic devices. Suppose I have a 16-channel device. The 16 strings will contain a load of fixed characters and embedded within those are the sequence ch1, ch2, ... , ch16. I can define a custom list for ch1 to 16, but will Excel recognise these list items within a larger string?


2017-02-20 16:49:43

Chris

very Helpful ! Thanks - just wondering if there is a short cut key for the Edit custom List . Thanks


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