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: Picking a Group of Cells.

Picking a Group of Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 11, 2017)


Excel allows you to define a group of cells in preparation for doing an action, such as formatting the cells. This is different than picking a range of cells, however. A range of cells is contiguous in nature—every cell between a starting and ending point is selected. A group of cells does not need to be contiguous. Instead, they can be anywhere on the worksheet.

In some Microsoft documentation, a group of cells is called a selection set. To put together your own group of cells, you need to use the mouse. Click on the first cell in the group. As you click on each subsequent cell in the group, simply hold down the Ctrl key. Each cell you click on is added to the group. If you click on a cell a second time (with the Ctrl key pressed), the cell is removed from the group. If you click on any cell without holding down the Ctrl key, that cell is selected and the selection set is gone.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12362) 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: Picking a Group of Cells.

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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What is five more than 3?

2017-04-26 05:43:04

Alan Elston

Nice Tip. I have done this in VBA but not in a spreadsheet.

An interesting use of this :- for cells in the same row or rows, or in the same column or columns -
You can copy ( Ctrl+c) the multicell sel ection .
If you then paste ( Ctrl+v ), the output is compressed.

So it is a nice way, for example, to go down a long list sel ecting the cells with information you want. Copy the multicell sel ection, then paste that sel ection and you get a list just of the cells you sel ected. This is a neat trick in VBA, but possibly someone could use it to good effect manually to quickly compile a short list from a larger list

2017-03-24 12:03:12

Willy Vanhaelen

" If you click on a cell a second time (with the Ctrl key pressed), the cell is removed from the group." doesn't work in Excel.

If you want to do this you can use a macro as in


2017-03-23 09:26:18


I use Excel 2010. Selecting multiple cells using the CTRL key works just fine, but deselecting a cell the same way has never worked for me. One 'oops' and it's start all over.

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