Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Adjusting a Range's Starting Point.

Adjusting a Range's Starting Point

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 29, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When I select a range of cells in a worksheet, the most common method I use is to hold down the Shift key as I use the cursor-control keys to move to the ending point in the range. Sometimes, after selecting a range, I realize that I should have started a bit earlier in my selecting. For instance, I may originally select the range C3:H12, and then realize that I should have started the selection at B2 instead of C3.

While I can start the selection all over again, there is a much simpler way to extend my selection so that it includes the revised starting point. The key is to remember that when you hold down the Shift key, selections are always expanded (or contracted) in relation to the "currently selected cell." Try these steps, and you will see what I mean:

  1. Using the keyboard, select the range C3:H12. Notice that the selected range is shaded, but one cell (C3) is a different color than the others. This tells you that C3 is the selected cell.
  2. Release the Shift key, then press Ctrl+. (that's the period) two times. Notice that the selected cell moves first to H3 (the top right corner of the selection) and then to H12 (the bottom right corner of the selection).
  3. Hold down the Shift key as you press the Up Arrow once and the Left Arrow once. Notice that the selection is extended on the top-left corner, opposite of the selected cell.

See how easy that was? All you needed to do was to modify the selected cell, without getting rid of the original range. There is another way to accomplish the same task, which involves one less keystroke. All you need to do, in step 2, is continue to hold down the Shift key as you press the Tab key. H12 immediately becomes the selected cell.

This alternative method of accomplishing the task actually brings up some interesting possibilities that you can experiment with. Again, remember that all range extending is done relative to the currently selected cell. With your initial range selected, you can press Tab or Shift+Tab to step through the cells in the range, one at a time. When you press Tab, you cycle through them from left to right and top to bottom; when you press Shift+Tab, you cycle through them in reverse order.

The interesting part comes in when you select a cell that isn't on a corner of your original range, and then try to expand your selection. Try different combinations of "active cells" and holding down the Shift key while pressing the arrow keys. You will find the different permutations rather interesting.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12468) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Adjusting a Range's Starting Point.

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

Selecting a Graphic Behind a Text Box

How to select a graphic that is obscured by a text box can be perplexing. Here's an overview of the different ways you ...

Discover More

Visually Showing a Protection Status

Need to know if a worksheet or workbook is currently protected? Excel provides some tell-tale signs, but here are some ...

Discover More

Resetting Paragraph Formatting

Tired of the formatting used in a paragraph? One way to 'start over' is to make sure that the formatting is reset to its ...

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)

Dates Copied Incorrectly

Under the right circumstances, you may notice problems when copying dates from one workbook to another. This tip explains ...

Discover More

Editing Individual Cells

Need to edit the data within a cell? There are any number of ways you can perform the edit; this tip documents them all.

Discover More

Stopping the Deletion of Cells

You can delete cells from a worksheet, and Excel will move the remaining cells either to the left or upwards. Deletions, ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 seven more than 6?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.