How to Select Rows, Columns, or Worksheets in Excel

It's quick and easy to accomplish many different tasks in Excel when you select a specific ranges of cells, such as entire rows, columns, data tables, or even complete worksheets. Changing column/row dimensions, hiding columns/rows, inserting new columns/rows, and applying cell formatting, can all be accomplished quickly by selecting spreadsheet cells.

Person selecting a column of figures in Excel
Lifewire / Luyi Wang 

Instructions in this article apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007; and Excel for Office 365.

Select Entire Rows in a Worksheet

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select an entire row.

Use Shortcut Keys to Select Rows

  1. Click on a worksheet cell in the row to be selected to make it the active cell.
  2. Press and hold the Shift key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the Spacebar key on the keyboard.
  4. Release the Shift key.
  5. All cells in the selected row are highlighted; including the row header.
Shift+Spacebar

Use Shortcut Keys to Select Additional Rows

  1. Press and hold the Shift key on the keyboard.
  2. Use the Up or Down arrow keys on the keyboard to select additional rows above or below the selected row.
  3. Release the Shift key when you've selected all the rows.

Use the Mouse to Select Rows

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the row number in the row header. The mouse pointer changes to a black arrow pointing to the right.
  2. Click once with the left mouse button.

Use the Mouse to Select Additional Rows

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the row number in the row header.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button.
  3. Drag the mouse pointer up or down to select the desired number of rows.

Select Entire Columns in a Worksheet

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select an entire column.

Use Shortcut Keys to Select Columns

  1. Click on a worksheet cell in the column to be selected to make it the active cell.
  2. Press and hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the Spacebar key on the keyboard.
  4. Release the Ctrl key.
  5. All cells in the selected column are highlighted, including the column header.
Ctrl+Spacebar

Use Shortcut Keys to Select Additional Columns

To select additional columns on either side of the selected column:

  1. Press and hold the Shift key on the keyboard.
  2. Use the Left or Right arrow keys on the keyboard to select additional columns on either side of the highlighted column.

Use the Mouse to Select Columns

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the column letter in the column header. The mouse pointer changes to a black arrow pointing down.
  2. Click once with the left mouse button.

Use the Mouse to Select Additional Columns

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the column letter in the column header.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button.
  3. Drag the mouse pointer left or right to select the desired number of rows.

Select All Cells in a Worksheet

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select all cells in a worksheet.

Use Shortcut Keys to Select All Cells

  1. Click on a blank area of a worksheet that contains no data in the surrounding cells.
  2. Press and hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Press and release the letter A key on the keyboard.
  4. Release the Ctrl key.
Ctrl+A

Use 'Select All' to Select All Cells

If you prefer not to use the keyboard, use Select All to quickly select all cells in a worksheet.

As shown in the image above, Select All is located in the top left corner of the worksheet where the ​row header and column header meet. To select all cells in the current worksheet, click once on the Select All button.

Select All Cells in a Table

Screenshot of Excel showing how to select all cells in a table.

Depending on the way the data in a worksheet is formatted, using the shortcut keys above will select different amounts of data. If the active cell is located within a contiguous range of data:

  • Press Ctrl+A to select all the cells containing data in the range.

If the data range has been formatted as a table and has a heading row that contains drop-down menus:

  • Press Ctrl+A a second time to select the heading row.

The selected area can then be extended to include all cells in a worksheet.

  • Press Ctrl+A a third time to select the entire worksheet.

Select Multiple Worksheets

Sheet1 and Sheet2 tabs in Excel

Not only is it possible to move between sheets in a workbook using a keyboard shortcut, but you can also select multiple adjacent sheets with a keyboard shortcut as well. Simply add the Shift key to the key combinations above.

To select pages to the left:

Ctrl+Shift+PgUp

To select pages to the right:

Ctrl+Shift+PgDn

Selecte Multiple Sheets

Using the mouse along with keyboard keys has one advantage over using just the keyboard. It allows you to select non-adjacent sheets as well as adjacent ones.

Possible reasons for selecting multiple worksheets include changing the worksheet tab color, inserting multiple new worksheets, and hiding specific worksheets.

Select Multiple Adjacent Sheets

  1. Click on one sheet tab to select it.
  2. Press and hold the Shift key on the keyboard.
  3. Click on additional adjacent sheet tabs to highlight them.

Select Multiple Non-Adjacent Sheets

  1. Click one sheet tab to select it.
  2. Press and hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard.
  3. Click on additional sheet tabs to highlight them.