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: Using AutoComplete with Disjointed Lists.

Using AutoComplete with Disjointed Lists

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 18, 2015)

4

The AutoComplete feature of Excel is pretty handy. When you are entering information into a cell, it automatically provides you with a list of the previous entries in the column that match what you've typed. Thus, if you type the letter T, then it lists all those entries starting with T. When you type the second letter, R, then it reduces the list to all those entries starting with TR.

There is a limit to AutoComplete, however: It will only search for matches in the column until it hits a blank cell. For instance, if you have values in the cells in A3:A17 and in A19:A26 (cell A18 is blank), then when you start to enter information in cell A27, only the entries in the range A19:A26 are used to display the AutoComplete list.

If you want to have Excel use everything in the full range (A3:A26) as fodder for the AutoComplete list, then there is no way around it—you will need to enter something in the blank cell (A18). A good choice is, perhaps, a single character, like a minus sign, an x, or a z. Select A18, type your character, and then press Enter. The cell now contains something, so AutoComplete will reference the entire range (A3:A26) when entering information into A27.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9427) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Using AutoComplete with Disjointed Lists.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Showing Text Boundaries for Pages, not for Paragraphs

Word allows you to configure how your document is displayed rather extensively. One configuration that has been around quite ...

Discover More

AutoFilling with Weekdays

Need to fill a range of cells with the days of the week? Excel makes it easy to do so using AutoFill.

Discover More

Filling a Cell

One way you can format a cell is so that its contents are repeated over and over again for the entire width of the cell. It's ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Using an Input Mask

When you are entering information in a worksheet, it sure would be handy to have a way to "mask" the information being ...

Discover More

Ensuring Rows and Columns are Empty

Before you go about deleting rows and columns helter-skelter, it is a good idea to determine if there is anything in the row ...

Discover More

Can't Enter Years in a Cell

Sometimes getting the right thing to show up in a cell can be a bit tricky when working with dates. If you enter a year ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 2?

2015-04-20 03:44:44

Des Lavender

Wow, yes. If the cell adjacent to the blank cell isn't blank then the whole of the current column is available for auto-complete.


2015-04-18 16:49:22

Dale

I have found that using "ZZZ" or "zzz" as a placeholder in Excel or Word is quite useful.

No valid English word has 3 consecutive Z's in it so you won't face the possibility of an inadvertent legitimate use of it in the worksheet or document.

It also is easy to use the Search & Replace function later to remove it or substitute another common placeholder.


2015-04-18 06:11:55

Willy Vanhaelen

This limitation also does not apply when the adjacent cell to the left or the right of the the blank cell is not empty.

If as in the example of this tip cell A18 is blank but B18 is not, AutoComplete will reference the entire range (A3:A26) when entering information into A27


2015-04-18 04:53:24

Khushnood Viccaji

This limitation does not apply if you are using auto-complete in a column within an Excel Table.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.