How to Move Columns in Excel

Rearrange and swap columns like a real Excel pro

What to Know

  • The easiest way to move a column in Excel is to highlight it, press Shift, and drag it to the new location.
  • You can also use cut & paste or do Data Sort to rearrange columns from the Data tab.
  • Columns that are part of a merged group of cells will not move.

This article covers how to move a column in Excel using the mouse, cut and paste a column, and rearrange columns using the Data Sort function. These instructions apply to Microsoft Excel 2019 and 2016 as well as Excel in Office 365.

How to Move Columns in Excel

There are several ways to rearrange the columns in an Excel worksheet, but one is easier than all the others. It just takes a highlight and a drag-and-drop motion. Here's how to move columns in Excel using your mouse.

  1. In the worksheet where you want to rearrange columns, place your cursor over the top of the column you want to move. You should see your cursor change to an arrow. When it does, click to highlight the column.

    The arrow indicating a column selection in Microsoft Excel.
  2. Next, press and hold the Shift key on the keyboard and then click and hold on the right or left border of the column you want to move and drag it to the right or left.

    As you drag your cursor across the columns, you'll see the borders darken to indicate where the new column will appear. When you're happy with the location, release the mouse click.

    The darkened border that displays when moving a column in Excel.
  3. You column will be moved to the location indicated by the darker border.

    An Excel column in a new location after being moved.

How to Move a Column in Excel With Cut and Paste

The next easiest way to move a column in Excel is to cut and paste the column from the old location to the new. This works much as you would expect it.

  1. Highlight the column you want to move, and then press Ctrl + X on your keyboard to cut the column from its current location. You'll see the "marching ants" around the column to indicate it has been cut from its current location.

    A column in Excel that has been "cut" from it's current location.
  2. Next, highlight a column to the right of where you want to move the cut column to, and right-click. In the menu, select Insert Cut Cells.

    The Insert Cut cells option in the context menu on Microsoft Excel.
  3. The new column is inserted to the left of the selected column.

    A column that was moved in Microsoft Excel.

How to Move Columns in Excel Using a Data Sort

Moving columns with a data sort is probably not the easiest way to move things around if you only have one or two columns that need to be moved, but if you have a large spreadsheet and you want to change the order of numerous columns, this little trick could be a major time saver.

This method will not work if you have Data Validation in place on your existing columns. To proceed, you'll need to remove data validation. To do so, highlight the cells with data validation, select Data Validation > Settings > Clear All, and click OK.

  1. To start, you need to add a row to the very top of your spreadsheet. To do this, right-click the first row and select Insert from the context menu.

    The Insert option in Microsoft Excel.
  2. A new row is inserted above your top row. This row must be at the top of the page, above all other header rows or rows of information.

    Go through your spreadsheet and number the columns in the order you want them to appear in the spreadsheet by entering a number in the new top row. Be sure to number every column you're using.

    A new row in Excel that's been used to number the preferred order of the columns.
  3. Next, select all the data in the spreadsheet that you want to rearrange. Then on the Data tab, in the Sort & Filter group, click Sort.

    The Sort option in Microsoft Excel.
  4. In the Sort dialog box, click Options.

    The options button in the Sort dialog box on Microsoft Excel.
  5. In the Sort Options dialog box, click the radio button next to Sort left to right and then click OK.

    The Sort Left to Right option in Microsoft Excel.
  6. You're returned to the Sort dialog box. In the Sort By drop down menu select Row 1 and then click OK.

    The Sort By row options in Microsoft Excel.
  7. This should sort your columns according to the numbers you listed in that first row. Now you can right click the first row and select Delete to get rid of it.

    An Excel sheet sorted by column using the Sort Feature.
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