Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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 October 19, 2013)

3

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, and 2013. 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 9 + 6?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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