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Basic Excel Training: Moving Columns

The ability to move columns around where they are needed is extremely helpful when working in Excel. The entire column; along with its text, values, formulas and comments can easily be moved using a very simple method. In fact, they can be removed from one worksheet altogether and inserted into another. You can even put them into a different workbook. This will prevent you from wasting critical time entering the information all over again and shifting data around to accommodate it. This Excel tutorial is going to teach you exactly how to move columns from one place to another.

There are two methods you can use to move columns around and each is explained below. The first thing to do is highlight the column that you wish to move. If this includes several, then Excel will move all of them in the same sequence that they are currently in. To highlight multiple columns, simply press down on your mouse while moving horizontally across in either direction, or press the Shift key on your keyboard while you click on each one. Know that columns need to be situated adjacent to each other to include them into the group.

It is important to note that highlighting columns will include every row inside it. Only do this if you are certain that all the information belonging to each row in the column must be moved. If it is only some cells in the column that you require, then rather highlight those cells:

  • Drag and Drop Columns

    This is the quickest and easiest method to use when moving columns. Simply hover over the border surrounding the selected columns or cells and wait for the Drag icon to appear. It looks like this:

    Click on it, drag the columns to your desired location and release it when you arrive there.

    We must warn you that dragging columns will replace the contents of the column that you drag it to, which may or may not be what you require. This method is mostly used when moving into empty columns. However, it does happen that columns need to be replaced sometimes. Either way, Excel will send you a warning before replacing data. If this is what you want, then click on OK. If you do not want to do this, click Cancel and use the next method instead.

  • Cut and Paste Columns

    This is the more popular of the two methods because you are able to copy columns, as well as cut them entirely and paste them elsewhere. In addition to this, your columns will be inserted into the desired location; instead of replacing existing columns that contain data you do not want to lose. Begin by right-clicking on the selected columns. A drop-down menu will appear:

    • Cut

      Select Cut if you wish to take the columns out of their current location and insert them elsewhere.

    • Copy

      If you do not want to cut the selected columns out of their location and simply want to copy them; click on Copy.

    You are also able to select Cut, Copy and Paste in the Clipboard box; under the Home tab of your Excel toolbar.

    Once you have chosen what you want to do, go to where the columns must be inserted and select where you want them to begin. Excel will insert columns exactly where you click now, and in the same sequence. Right-click again on the new column and choose Paste from the drop-down menu (or simply press Enter on your keyboard):

    When you click on Paste, Excel will immediately move the columns for you (or copy them as instructed).

Now that you know how to move columns around your spreadsheet, you can also cut them out of one workbook and paste them into another. The process is exactly the same except you will need to open the other workbook and paste in the correct location.

Several students in our Excel training courses in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding South Florida area suggested we write this article for you. There are many features, tools and methods that will make spreadsheet creation and maintenance an absolute pleasure. To find out more about them, please feel free to watch our Excel training videos.


Hector Garcia CPA and QuickBooks/Excel Trainer

Hector Garcia CPA and QuickBooks/Excel Trainer

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