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: Shortcut for Selecting a Data Range.

Shortcut for Selecting a Data Range

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 9, 2019)

4

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, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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 two more than 5?

2019-03-12 09:35:18

Gerhard Seljehammer

Hi,
When talking about selecting ranges, it's useful to know that you can check what area that is selected by pressing CTRL+ . (period) . This will highlight each corner subsequently as you continue to press CTRL + .


2019-03-12 05:54:44

Gerhard Seljehammer

Hi,
When talking about selecting ranges, it's useful to know that you can check what area that is selected by pressing CTRL+ . (period) . This will highlight each corner subsequently as you continue to press CTRL + .


2019-03-09 17:19:06

Ron

I also found that both Ctrl+* an Ctrl+A selected the headings along with the data with no easy way to get it to exclude the headers. I find the most versatile way to select all the data is the one not mentioned, F8 (extend selection) then Ctrl-End (or Ctrl+arrow(s)). I select the uppermost cell I want (e.g., A2) and then use F8 followed by Ctrl-End to select all the data. This does include blank rows and columns which is usually what I want.


2019-03-09 09:18:04

John Mann

Useful tip reminding me of things I had forgoten. Experimenting with this a bit (good reinforcement), I could only get the Ctrl+A to recognise headers if the range in question was formated is a table. If I simply typed some headings over columns they were not seen as headers when I pressed Ctl+A once, insteadthey were included in the selection.

I also noticed that if \I selected a blank cell that was surrounded by a range of cells containing data, then both methods selected the entire range, provided thar at least one cell adjacent to the selected blank cell contained data. That included diagonally adjacent cells. |Once no adjacent cell contained data, but the larger range did, then Ctrl+A selected the entire sheet while Crt+* did nothing. My test range was M3:R10, the test cell was P7, and the range were |I was gradually deleting data was O6:R8. Any one cell in the range O6:R8 could contain data, and selecting P7 then using either Ctrl+* (once) or Ctrl+A selected M3:R10.


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