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: Making AutoComplete Work for an Entire Column.

Making AutoComplete Work for an Entire Column

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 23, 2020)

2

The AutoComplete feature in Excel can be a great boon for data entry, making it very easy to enter multiple instances of the same text in a column. One of the constraints on the AutoComplete feature is that it only works on contiguous ranges of cells in a column. For instance, if you have data in cells B7 through B25, then AutoComplete will work just fine if you are entering data in cell B6 or B26. It will not, however, work in cells B5 or B27 if cells B6 or B26 are left empty.

The only way to get around this limitation is to make sure that you have something in every single cell in the range. Some people put characters, such as periods, in the cells they otherwise would have left blank. The problem with this, of course, is that the periods show up on a printout, and need to be removed as a final step of creating your worksheet.

A better approach is to use a non-printing character in the otherwise blank cells. Instead of a period, use a space. Better yet, you can use a 0 (zero) value. You can then instruct Excel to suppress the display of zeros in the display.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11106) 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: Making AutoComplete Work for an Entire Column.

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

Displaying the Ruler

The ubiquitous ruler appears at the top of every Word document. It is so common place, that you may forget that it is ...

Discover More

Removing Specific Fields

Word allows you to place all sorts of fields in your documents. If you want to search for only specific types of fields, ...

Discover More

Copying Worksheet Code Automatically

When creating a workbook to be used by others, you may want any worksheets they add to the workbook to contain some ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Measuring Efficiency of Formulas and Macros

As the limits on what you can store in Excel have increased, so has the need to consider how to make your workbooks and ...

Discover More

Disabling a Function Key

Function keys are used to perform common tasks in Excel. If you want to disable one of the function keys, it's rather ...

Discover More

Can't Access the Registry

Many Windows applications rely on information stored in the Registry. If that information cannot be accessed, the ...

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 four minus 0?

2020-05-23 13:03:10

J. Woolley

@Willy Vanhaelen
Thank you for explaining that. It makes AutoComplete much more useful.

@Allen
When you re-post an earlier Tip, it would be useful to include the earlier comments.


2020-05-23 11:06:07

Willy Vanhaelen

When the cell at the right and/or the left of an empty cell in a column has data Excel considers this cell not as an empty cell for AutoComplete. Consequently this empty cell becomes part of the contiguous range in the column.

So, in this tip's example, B7 and B25 being empty, AutoComplete will work if cell A7 or C7 and A25 or C25 have data.


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.