Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Shortcut for Selecting a Data Range.

Shortcut for Selecting a Data Range

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 18, 2018)

10

The quickest way to select a range of data on your worksheet is to use Ctrl+Shift+8. (This is the same as Ctrl+*.) This selects, using the currently selected cell as the starting point, the contiguous cells that contain data. The selection stops when a blank row or a blank column is reached. The shortcut also results in the upper-left cell of the range being the active cell.

To see how the shortcut works, suppose you have data in the range A1:A325, and more data in the range C1:E190. If you start with cell A7 selected and then press Ctrl+Shift+8, then A1:A325 is selected. (The other data range isn't selected because column B is blank.) If you start with cell D12 selected and press Ctrl+Shift+8, then the range C1:E190 is selected. Again, the selection doesn't extend to column A because column B is blank.

There is another keyboard shortcut that will also select a data range: Ctrl+A. In most Windows-based programs, Ctrl+A stands for "select all," meaning everything in whatever file the program is working on. Not so in Excel. If you have a cell selected within a data range, pressing Ctrl+A once will function almost the same as Ctrl+*, meaning that it selects the data range, minus any headers. If you press Ctrl+A a second time then Excel expands the selection to include any headers. Press it a third time (or press it a single time if you have a cell outside of a data range selected) and Excel selects the entire worksheet.

There is another difference between Ctrl+* and Ctrl+A: Pressing Ctrl+* not only selects the data range, it also makes the top-left cell in that data range the active cell. Pressing Ctrl+A to select the data range leaves the active cell unchanged.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8966) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Shortcut for Selecting a Data Range.

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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Comments

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What is 8 + 1?

2018-07-29 09:36:46

Ruthie A. Ward

@Willy
I used my previous macro only to reset the range as I don't necessarily want to jump to the last cell when I'm resetting the range. For example, when working with filtered lists, I just want to remove blank rows/columns without changing the active cell.

This morning I found an even shorter one liner that does exactly that.

Sub ResetRange()
ActiveSheet.UsedRange
End Sub

Thanks


2018-07-28 09:19:47

Willy Vanhaelen

@Ruthie
I use this one liner which does the same job and jumps to the "really" last cell:

Sub ResetLastCell() 'assigned shortcut: Alt+Ctrl+End
ActiveSheet.UsedRange.SpecialCells(xlLastCell).Select
End Sub


2018-07-27 06:33:09

Ruthie A. Ward

@ Willy Vanhaelen, @ J. Woodly, @ Billy Thomas

If you reset the used range on your worksheet, Ctrl + End shouldn't pick up those "empty" cells. I use the following macro because I run into this a lot with workbooks I get from other people.

Sub ResetLastCell()
Dim x As Long
Dim y As Long
x = ActiveSheet.UsedRange.Rows.Count
y = ActiveSheet.UsedRange.Columns.Count
End Sub


2018-07-20 09:46:23

Willy Vanhaelen

@ J. Woodly, @ Billy Thomas

Crtl+End selects the last cell in a worksheet.

Ctrl.+Shift+End extends the selection from the active cell to that last cell.

The last cell in a worksheet is the cell in the bottommost row and rightmost column of the worksheet that contains data or it can be empty but has been formatted. So this cell can be anywhere in the worksheet below and/or to the right of your data.

If your worksheet is well maintained, the last cell will will be the last cell containing data.

If you entered data in a cells byond that and deleted it (with or without formatting), Excel remembers the old position until you save the workbook.

If you forgot to delete the formatting you still get the old position after saving.


2018-07-19 11:04:30

J. Woolley

Ctrl+Shift+End apparently selects an extra empty row at the bottom if it has been formatted differently, including different height. And Ctrl+Shift+End apparently selects an extra empty column at the right if it has been formatted differently, but not if width is the only difference.


2018-07-18 11:24:06

Billy Thomas

Ctrl Shift End will also select all data in a contiguous section, including the current row and column and all rows below and to the right.


2018-07-18 10:56:45

David Gray

This is a realy useful tip, and I just tried it in a worksheet that I created yesterday. Users should be aware that Excel treats cells that contain formulas as occupied, even when the formula resolves to a blank.


2013-10-22 13:00:30

Bryan

I see now. The Google cached version shows the same page, so it just looks like the comments got removed. The Way Back Machine version shows that it was, in fact, a shorter article before the edits, so now removing the comments makes more sense. (I did wonder why I bothered to comment about Ctrl+A when it was already in the article). I guess I didn't realize my comments got integrated into articles when they were rewritten.

http://web.archive.org/web/20111110024804/http://excelribbon.tips.net/T008966_Shortcut_for_Selecting_a_Data_Range.html


2013-10-21 11:44:21

awyatt

That is by design, Bryan -- it is not a problem.

This tip, as republished, is different than the older version. It includes many of the substantive comments, reworked into the tip itself. Had the comments been left there, they would have been superfluous, repeating what was now within the body of the tip.

Old comments go away, by design, when tips are republished.

-Allen


2013-10-21 09:44:14

Bryan

Allen, I think there is a problem with your website. Occassionally when you post a premium tip, the comments which were there before are deleted.

----

James Cameron 30 Sep 2013, 21:11
Also, in keeping with Excel's penchant for having multiple ways of acheiving the same end, CTRL+A and CTRL+Shift+Space appear to function identically.

----

Richard Meijles 30 Sep 2013, 15:09
ctrl+Shift+8 puts the active cell directly in the left-upper cell of the selection, whereas ctrl+A leaves the active cel unchanged.

If you define a table as a table, pressing ctrl+a for the first time selects the data of that table. Pressing ctrl+a for a second time also selects the headers. Pressing ctrl+a for a third time selects the whole sheet.

If you define a table as a table and you press ctrl+shift+*, the entire table is seelcted including the headers. Pressing this combination a second or third tie doesn't change anything.

Ctrl+Shift+* will also select a rectangle shape when the active cell is directly next to a cell from a table.

So there are a few differences.

----

Bryan 30 Sep 2013, 10:45
Ctrl+A seems to do the same thing, but it's a lot easier for me to hit. The only difference I can see is if you are not in a data range at all, Ctrl+A will highlight the entire sheet, whereas Ctrl+Shift+* only works within data.

----

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